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49erswebzone.com recently had another Q&A with Matt Maiocco of The Press Democrat. Mr. Maiocco is an award-winning San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter who has covered the 49ers on a daily basis for more than a decade. Fans and staff of 49erswebzone.com had the opportunity to ask questions regarding 49ers training camp. We would like to thank Mr. Maiocco for the time he took out of his busy schedule to answer these questions.
HarforBuzz: Compare Alex's '05 camp confidence to Alex's '06 confidence in terms of pocket awareness, eyes downfield, scrambling, throws in traffic.
MM: I think he looks a lot better in every aspect this year. He’s certainly more confident and he has better players around him. I loved the play he made to ABryant in the scrimmage. Davis was running a seam route, and Smith pump-faked that way, drawing the safety. That left Bryant all by his lonesome down the left sideline.
GhostofFredDean: We're getting mixed signals on Alex Smith's performance in camp. I'd like your take on his performance so far and if you feel Smith is ready to lead this team.
MM: He is a good leader. What I’ll be interested to witness is when ABryant starts screaming at him on the sideline. Let’s see how he reacts then. As for Smith’s performance in camp, he started shaky but has looked better and better as we’ve gone along.
GhostofFredDean: Who's been the most impressive rookie in camp so far?
MM: Geez, it might be Delanie Walker. He looks really good. Does he look better than Davis? Probably not, but we all have such high expectations for Davis. I believe Walker catches the ball more gracefully than Davis, though. I’ve been impressed by Michael Robinson and Marcus Hudson, too. Can’t wait to see Lawson in a game.
Oscar: Last year, Coach Nolan took over the defensive play calling. How much will Coach Nolan be involved in the play calling this year? Will the offense be Turner's to do as he wishes?
MM: Nolan is very hands-on when it comes to defense. He and Billy Davis are almost co-coordinators … or at least that’s the way it looks from my vantage point. As for the offense, it’s all Norv’s show.
Oscar: How much did new front office hire Lal Heneghan factor into the draft pick negotiations? Was he a driving force behind the contract language and/or the negotiations or did Paarag do most of the work?
MM: Paraag Marathe did most of the work, and Heneghan was there to oversee things.
Oscar: How confident are they in 5th round pick Parys Haralson? Is he someone who will develop into a starter soon, or will he have to spend some time on the bench in order to develop his skills?
MM: Haralson has a good motor. My concern for him is his size. He’s going to be dwarfed by some of the guys he has to go against. My guess is that he will play this season but that he’ll have to make some adjustments to be productive.
Oscar: Are the 49ers seriously entertaining a trade for Lelie?
MM: Yes and no. They are interested in acquiring Lelie because they believe he could help their WR corps. But they are not willing to give up a third- or fourth-round pick for a player who is in the final year of his contract. Also, they’d be reluctant to sign the guy to the kind of long-term deal that he wants.
Oscar: Will a zone-blocking scheme help or hurt Barlow is his quest to remain the starter?
MM: Good question. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea once the games start and we can analyze it then. Sorry for the cop-out answer.
9erStorm: How well is Trent Dilfer adapting to the role of mentor for Alex Smith? How much do you feel Smith can develop with Dilfer as his mentor?
MM: Dilfer has been in this role before with Seattle and Matt Hasselbeck. He wanted this role. I think it’ll help, but having Dilfer on the team is not, in itself, going to make Smith a Pro Bowl QB.
9erStorm: What have been your impressions of running back Michael Robinson so far? How does he fall into the 49ers' future plans?
MM: Quite impressed. He played QB last year, but he looks like a running back. You see him in the locker room without his shirt and you have to remind yourself that this guy was a QB just last year. He has looked very good, and I’d suspect he will find his niche as a third-down back.
Jordache49: How does this year's secondary look compared to last year's at this time of year? What kind of impact do you see Sammy Davis having for us?
MM: Last year the starters were CBs Plummer and Spencer and S Tony Parrish and Mike Rumph. On paper, it looked pretty decent last year. But then we found out that Plummer didn’t want to play, and Rumph was not cut out to be a safety. I think Spencer will be better, and Walt Harris – though he might not be great – is better than anyone they had starting there last year. All the backups have played in the NFL, unlike last year when they were grabbing guys off the street and sticking them in the starting lineup. Davis has done well in camp, but we’ll see about his consistency. Remember, the Chargers finally gave up on him and traded him for Rashaun Woods, so we know how much they wanted to get rid of him.
HartfordBuzz: How are the backup defensive ends looking?
MM: They’re looking a little iffy. You’re talking about guys like Ronald Fields, Melvin Oliver and Scott Scharff. Those are young fellas who have a lot to learn.
BayAreaNinersFan: Has Soapoaga become the starting nose tackle?
MM: Nope, still Anthony Adams, but I believe Sopoaga has looked good and will be a factor this season.
RayWersching: How do you pronounce your last name?
MM: Ah, it’s a debate that has raged in the Maiocco family for decades. I pronounce it “May-OH-co.” I have a brother who pronounces it “My-OH-co.” The latter is probably the truest Italian pronunciation. I answer to both … and a lot of other things, too.
Matt Maiocco's 49ers blog, "INSTANT 49ers," can be found here:
If you have feedback for Matt, do not use the below feedback form. Matt can be contacted at MMAIOCCO@AOL.COM.