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Xs and Os with Nolan, Post-Lions

Following the 49ers win over the Lions, head coach Mike Nolan responded to questions from our fans.  If your question wasn't chosen this time, try again! Coach Nolan will be back on Thursday with more answers.
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Q: Coach, I feel very strong about our passing attack. We can be a real deep threat when our offensive line protects JT. He's very smart and calm and makes the right plays. He reminds me of Steve Young. My question to you coach is, why hasn't Vernon Davis made any explosive plays this year? Don't you feel that he should get more chances down the field? -Thanks, Eric AlbtownA: This past week vs. Detroit we missed on three opportunities that would have gotten Vernon the ball downfield. Naturally, every game has successes and failures. Vernon is a hard worker and his opportunities will continue. We need to capitalize on those plays when called. Vernon has strengths other than receiving. He plays a key role in our running game and in our protection schemes. It takes a well rounded player to consider yourself elite, and Vernon is working to be the best he can.

Q: Coach, how would you rate Barry Sims' play and contributions against the Lions? -George Woods BakerA: Barry played well. Our line gave up one sack for one yard. Any time you are able to run for 182 yards your line is doing good things. Barry is a smart, tough, experienced player, and we feel good about him when he is on the field.

Q: Coach Nolan, first off congrats on a big win over Detroit this weekend. The offense and defense looked very impressive coach. However, it is obvious that teams stack the goal line for Frank Gore, so instead of trying to pound the ball to Gore when we get in the red zone, why don't we use more play-action passes? And despite the fact that we pretty much shut down the Lions passing game, we still gave up a significant amount of rushing yards to the worst rushing team in the league, so why are we struggling so much against the run this year? -Rashad Bates, United States Soldier, Noxapater/Tupelo, MsA: Thanks for the question Rashad. I also want to thank you for serving our country. Your courage and commitment to do so is admiral.

To answer both questions I first want to say it is very early in the season. There are many plays and situations that have yet to occur both positive and negative. It is too early to get wrapped up in stats unless there was an area of major concern, such as in the bottom 1/3 of the league, which is not the case. We will continue to strive for victory and assess the damages. Thanks again.

Q: Hey Coach Nolan, do you think this is the year the 49ers will make it to the playoffs or at least the Wild Card? –Matt, Las Vegas, NV.A: I am sure if you are a 49ers fan then you know our motto – one game at a time. Preach it, believe it and help us win. Thanks for your support.

Q: Hi Mike, needless to say I'm very pleased with the direction the team is taking. People can argue that "it was just Detroit", etc., but the fact remains that these are all professional football players and can beat you if you're not prepared. J.T. O'Sullivan is the best quarterback I've seen with the Niners since Steve Young, quick on his feet and a gunslinger to boot. No longer can other teams hone in on Frank Gore as the sole weapon. Would you attribute that more to Mike Martz's coaching, or just a very skilled individual, or a bit of both? Also, my compliments to the defense as well. -Steve Wright, Bend, OregonA: I think it is a combination. I have known Mike Martz for a long time, and I knew that he would utilize our players and put them in a position to make plays. We had talent on our team, and we added players like Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson. So a combination of a good coordinator, the addition of some players and the maturity of some players has helped our offense.

Q: Coach, very impressive win over Detroit. Is the plan for this week to have Frank Gore run the ball 25-30 times again this week to keep the time of possession in our favor and not allow New Orleans to run their fast-paced offense? -Andrew McDevittA: We make an effort to get Frank the ball in every game. The amount of carries can change based on how the games go. As much as Frank Gore is a factor rushing the ball and catching the ball, he takes pride in his ability to pick up the blitz. He is leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage, but just today he was talking about how he likes to make blocks. In overtime against Seattle, he made a block that allowed J.T. O'Sullivan to make a key throw that set up the game-winning field goal.

Q: Great win over the Lions, let's hope it translates to next week! After the game, I got to thinking... Josh Morgan seems to catch everything and turn them into big gains. I know Martz knows what he's doing, but to your knowledge are there any plans to implement him into the passing game more as we continue through this season? Wouldn't his speed and the availability of more choices downfield help JT a little more? -Thanks! David, Colorado Springs, Colorado
A: Josh has been impressive, especially for a rookie. He did well during the preseason when
he got playing time due to injuries to Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle. Then he was held back for about two weeks when he was ill. Mike Martz does a great job of using the talent he has and spreading the ball around. I think Josh will make an impact for us this season and that you will see his play-making ability. But right now, Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle are our top three receivers.

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