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X's and O's with Nolan, Pre-Seattle

Head coach Mike Nolan checks in again with his latest round of X's and O's, as he prepares his squad for Sunday's game against Seattle. Find out his responses to your questions, and if yours wasn't chosen this time, try again! Coach Nolan will be back next Tuesday morning with more answers.
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Q: With Alex Smith out, there is a need for another quarterback. Why would you go down the same route as last year and sign an older, close to retirement QB? Alex Lourdeaux
A: We signed Jamie Martin as a third quarterback. You are right in that he is older. Our team feels good about Shaun Hill and what he can do if he gets into a game as the backup quarterback. He proved last year that he can move the football and lead us to wins. So, it was best for us to get a quarterback at this stage that has an understanding of our offensive system, especially since we are already past training camp. Jamie worked with Mike Martz in St. Louis, as well as in Washington.

Q: Coach Nolan, my family and I are doctors in Illinois. I take extreme offense when I visit your message boards and then hear and read about journalists who seem to think they have the ability to make medical diagnoses. I read ridiculous comments about Smith not having the surgery until December when the injury occurred in September. Surgery should not be the first option for a guy like Alex Smith who makes his living from his right shoulder. Giving the injury time to heal first on its own is a very reasonable course of action. Mdfamily3205
A: I am not a doctor and I do not try to be. We have a medical staff and experts in the field to rely on. It wasn't my decision whether or not Alex had surgery last year, nor should it have been.

Q: Coach Nolan, with 10 seconds left in the first half against Arizona, they were forced to punt from their own 18-yard line. This puts the punter on the 3. Why not rush 10 (or 11!) players to aggressively block the punt and possibly get a touchdown or at least a close field goal? Even if you rough the punter, at most they get one more offensive play. Unless you take the punt all the way (Rossum did a fair catch), you have no time to do anything. Thanks! Go Niners! - David DesRoches
A: We had 10 seconds to go. I was thinking, 'Look they are going to punt this thing and if we can get a fair catch in front of the 50 then obviously you get a free kick.' The rules allow us to kick from the spot of the ball and the opponent cannot rush the kick. So we were willing to take the free kick. I basically said, 'Get out there on the 50 and if it comes to you, field the ball. Fair catch it so we can get the free kick. So I put two guys back to do it and told them 'If it goes over your head beyond the 50-yard line, just let it go.' I figured just let it go, clock will run out and we'll go into halftime. So I was thinking either a free kick or we aren't going to mess with it. What happened was he walked back and fair caught the ball. He was frustrated because he wanted to return it. So that was his frustration, but I don't blame him. If I had to do it over again, I'd say, 'If you have to back up, go ahead and see what you can get out of it,' because we do have some pretty explosive return guys.

Q: Thank you Coach, and congratulations now that you and your people have assembled football players we can and actually will win with this season. It looked very dark there for a while. In the 3rd and 4th quarters of Sunday's game our defensive packages were ineffective in getting the "D" off the field. The Raiders offensive packages were ineffective in putting up points on Monday night. Please share a coaches mind-set or thought process in not resorting to something extraordinary or something/anything radically different when what you are attempting is obviously failing to produce (i.e., exotic blitzes, etc., or no huddle offense, etc., etc)? - Sammy Moore Jr

A: We did mix up our calls. We are a multiple defense. We had success in the first half. The Cardinals have some good players, and they made some key plays in the second half. We didn't execute as well underneath in the second half as we did in the first half to get off the field. Some of those third downs that they converted in the second half though were cases of their players making a play.

Q: Coach, I read that you said you did not know the specifics on Alex Smith's shoulder. I don't know how you can possibly be the head coach of the 49ers and not know what's going on with one of your players? Jasper from Saratoga
A: I was told by the medical staff what the issues were. Alex and I had a meeting in my office to discuss his situation. I am not a doctor and just told the media that I did not want to get into the specifics. I guess they interpreted me not wanting to get into the specifics with them as me not having an understanding of the situation from our medical staff.

Q: Going to see you guys beat up on Seattle this weekend, and taking my family up there, but my question is...With Gore having a 6.9 avg on runs against the cards on Sunday, why didn't the running game continue in the second half??? I know that we only had 15 offensive plays in the second half, but, we all know that Gore seems to get better as the game goes on, I would have thought that we would have used him more because of the success he and the team had in the first half.-Thanks for taking my question...NINER FOR LIFE. Joe Walker and family-Vancouver, WAA: There is no question that Frank Gore had an outstanding game with 96 yards rushing and the 6.9-yard average. It was more of an issue of the opportunities we had in the second have. We did move the ball well, but it is hard to judge our offense when we had just 15 plays in the second half, and even harder to get the ball to Frank when the offense is mostly on the sidelines.

Q: Coach Nolan, a few turnovers in a game is typical, but 5 shows poor coaching, preparation and execution. Nevertheless, Niners offense made almost 300 yards of offense but effectively played only a little over half-a game, in terms of possession and attempts. Your offensive efficiency was nearly twice the Cards on a per attempt (7.3YPA), almost twice that compared to last year (4.4 YPA), and your points per play for the game was about the same as the Cards (~3.3). How encouraged are you about your offensive production for 2008 and your prospects of winning now if you can hang on to the ball and keep penalties down? Looking better! - Thanks, Don Kloos, Wesminster, CA
A: Turnovers show a lack of protecting the ball. Daily we script over 150 plays. Each play represents an opportunity to secure the ball. This way every player has numerous reps at taking care of the football.

I am encouraged by prospects of our team based on personnel, scheme, etc. We play to win and accountability on every play by each individual on the field is imperative to make potential become reality.

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