McCloughan's Mailbag - Feb. 5th

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Check out our fourth round of questions for General Manager Scot McCloughan. If your question wasn't selected this round, please try again.

Please submit your questions to askmccloughan@niners.nfl.com  

Q: Scot, Thank you for taking time to answer all of our questions. I was wondering how much room in the salary cap does the team have to work with this year? There looks to be a few free agents that are about to hit the market who would have an immediate impact. I think that the team that you have built these past few years is poised to take it to the next level! It's time for the 49ers to re-emerge as one of the top teams of the league. -Jerome Martinez, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A: When it's all said and done, we'll be in the top 10 in the NFL for sure. We'll have room and we'll be one of the teams with the most room. We have enough room to possibly be aggressive and there's enough room to take care of our own guys. Whatever we want to do, we're going to do it. We have some cap room where we can improve our roster because of the room we have. We're in very good shape.

Q: Hey Scot, How do you feel about the progress coach Singletary has made with the interviews and the final hire at offensive coordinator with coach Raye? Did you like the way he handled the search? Also, with the offseason and draft comming up, is quarterback a spot you might be looking to shore up in one of those events? Thanks! -The Jerm! Waterford CA

A: Yeah, I did like it. I liked it a lot from the standpoint of the amount of interviews that we did. We were getting to know not just personalities and the visions of the guys that we interviewed, but also their philosophy on offense. It was great to hear about what they've done in the past that has and has not worked. I also learned a lot just for future reference of possible coaching hires down the line. There was no timetable, but the most important thing was to hire the right guy. If it happened in a week and we found the right guy, great. If it was three months into our search and we found the right guy, that's fine too. Hiring the right guy was all that mattered for the future. I thought the search was handled very professionally. Coach Singletary is very methodical and it was an important hire for the entire organization. That's the way we approached it and I'm very excited about who we ended up picking.

Every year we're trying to improve the quarterback position as we do with every position. You always want to have some youth in place, knowing that they might not be the starter that year, but in the future they have upside and they can possibly be a starting quarterback in the NFL. It's also very important nowadays to have two quarterbacks who have some experience, because you're going to need a second quarterback in a 16-game season. It's definitely a priority, not just this year, but in every year.

Q: Mr. McCloughan, I have been a 49ers fan all my life. I'm 19-years old, and take every down as serious as the players or coaches on the field do. I know you can't talk about draft picks or free agents, but is Shaun Hill going to be fighting for the starting job at quarterback? -Garrett Childress

A: Yes he will be – there's no doubt about it. Shaun has done everything that we've asked him to do. He's been out there with limited reps in the last two seasons, has been put into game situations and he's produced. That's what we look for at any position. For a quarterback learning a new system the last two years and with him being able to step in and win some games for us, proves that he's a good football player. That right there puts him in place to be competing for the starting job.

Q: Scot, I think you've quietly done one the best reclamation jobs in the league recently. With most of the elite teams all seeming to have one dominant safety (Steelers – Troy Polamalu, Ravens – Ed Reed, Cardinals – Adrian Wilson), the guy on our squad who looks and plays the most like that is Nate Clements. He hits and plays with a linebacker mentality. Outside of the contract factoring in, am I wrong in assuming that Nate would be perfect as the free safety position? -Tommy Frazier from Cleveland, OH

A: Nate's a really good football player, but in my opinion, his best position for us and where he helps us the most right now is at cornerback. Not to say later in his career, maybe if he loses half a step, you might move him inside to safety. Safety is a very important position. We feel that we some guys at that position who are good football players. We also feel like we have some talented young players like Dashon Goldson, who we feel has a chance to be really good if he can stay healthy. We feel that he can go out there and compete for a starting job. All of our positions are important and Nate's a good football player. He's the type of guy, no matter where you put him in the defensive backfield, he's going to have some success, because he's a physical guy and an intelligent football player.

Q: Hi Scot, I was just wondering what you thought about the idea of trading out of the top 10 in the draft this year. You could probably get another second-round pick to go with a later first round pick. This way you guys could pick up a pretty good pass rusher and then maybe Rashad Johnson (safety from the University of Alabama) in the second round, because of how coach Singletary said he wanted a safety. Also, I was wondering what you thought about the quarterback from Kansas State, Josh Freeman. He looks really impressive. Thank you. -Spencer, CT

A: We'll discuss anything and we'll go through all the scenarios on draft day. If we stay where we're at, I feel there's going to be a good football player at pick number10 in this year's draft. I have no problem moving back and picking up more picks to add more young guys to this roster. I'm open for anything.

With respect to the quarterback, I will say he's a good football player. I will refrain from going into too much detail with specific players. We'll evaluate him as we do with all the quarterbacks, but he's a good football player and he will be in the NFL.

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