McCloughan's Mailbag - April 2

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Check out our twelfth round of questions for General Manager Scot McCloughan. If your question wasn't selected this round, please try again. Keep in mind that due to NFL rules, McCloughan cannot answer questions about any potential free agents and will refrain from giving detailed information on any draft-eligible players.Please submit your questions to askmccloughan@niners.nfl.com  

Q: What's up Scot? Do you truly believe that either Shaun Hill or Alex Smith could lead the team to the playoffs or possibly even the Super Bowl? – Rayvel Williams
A: I feel they both have a chance to be successful quarterbacks in the NFL. They're different quarterbacks in terms of what they bring to the table, but I'm excited about both of them competing. I do know they will be as good as our offense lets them be. Meaning our offensive line has to produce, our tight ends, running backs and wide receivers also have to produce. They'll make the starting quarterback a better player. We need smart play on offense; we need an identity on offense. We need to establish the line of scrimmage and let the quarterbacks make the play when they're supposed to make the play.

Q: Thank you again for taking your time to answer our questions. Because of the speed that Patrick Willis has, why isn't he more of a pass rusher? - Alex Recinos, Los Angeles
A: That's a very good question. With what we do with him on defense, you'll see him blitz every now and then, especially on third down. But his value sideline-to-sideline is so important to us that we keep him in coverage a lot of time on a running back, because there's a lot of check-downs nowadays with these offenses and we need a guy who can really cover some ground. It also frees our safety up so he can stay deep. I'm pretty sure in the future you're going to see more blitzing out of Patrick.

Q: Scot, I agree with your comments on building great players in the system through the draft. I love what's going on with the defense and the offensive line looks to be filling out. But, when will the 49ers get an identity on offense and stick with it? How do we draft players for a system that changes every year? -Tony, NC
A: The most important thing is getting an offense in place for more than one year. We have that now with Jimmy Raye. You'll see our identity in the preseason and it won't change during the regular season. On offense we have to draft good football players. Not so much that fit the system, but good football players who fit the identity that we're looking for. That's going to be big guys, tough guys and intelligent guys at all positions. The main thing for us to do is have an offense in place for more than one year.

Q: I'm curious to know what attributes you look for in quarterbacks and how you prioritize them. Every coach tends to like their own order of skills and attributes, but as a 49ers fan, I would like to know how our general manager evaluates QB's, particularly those still in college. Thanks a lot if you chose to answer this question. - Oscar, San Mateo
A: All quarterbacks are different. I've been lucky enough to be around Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck, and I've learned that leadership is very important. There are a lot of quarterbacks out there who have strong arms or ones who can run around and make some plays, but the great quarterbacks are able to control the huddle. They can walk up to the line of scrimmage and everybody on the offensive side of the ball and everybody that's watching knows they have a chance to make the play and win the game for you. They're hard to find. There have been quarterbacks who have a good two or three years, but aren't good leaders. I think when it's said and done, the number one important factor for a great quarterback is leadership.

Q: I feel that the signing of Marvel Smith filled a huge whole for us. Do you feel like now we can go in any direction with the tenth pick? – John Fuller
A: Yes, but I felt that way beforehand. There's going to be a good football player at the tenth pick and we're going to take him. Marvel gives us a proven commodity, he's a guy who has gone out there and played on two world championship teams. He's also been to the Pro Bowl. But he understands that there's a question about his durability. We wouldn't have signed him if we didn't think he could play for us. We protected ourselves with the contract, but if he plays and I anticipate him playing well for us, we got better because of it. We're going to take the best player at the tenth pick.

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