Cal from Chandler, Ariz., writes: Regarding your comments on the "Harris' hit on Lutui", you should listen to Fitz's comments on what Deuce Lutui was saying while he was on the ground. Pretty funny. It is at the 38:00 point in the audio link below. BTW, really enjoy your articles.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Cal. Very good link. I'll provide a partial transcript of the conversation involving pass-rusher Bertrand Berry and receiver Larry Fitzgerald, relating to Tommie Harris' punch against Lutui during the Cardinals' victory over the Bears in Week 9.
Berry: Let me just say this, the Academy Award goes to ... because if you notice, it was like a 2- or 3-second delay before he actually rolled over (supposedly in pain). A little gamesmanship went on.
Fitzgerald: It was so funny, Deuce was on the ground holding his face and he was like, 'Fitz, what is going on? Are they throwing him out?' It was hilarious.
Looks like I was on the right track when I suggested some of Harris' fine should go to establish Deuce Lutui Professional Wrestling School. As for the rest of this mailbag, it's heavy on 49ers-related questions. That wasn't my choice, but rather a reflection of what was new Friday night. I spend quite a bit of time discussing NFC West teams in the comments sections and on Facebook. Sometimes I get fewer mailbag items as a result.
Jon from San Francisco writes: Mike, I just cringed during the Thursday night game because those five picks could have easily been off Alex Smith if they had let him throw more. Please let me know when you jump on the Shaun Hill wagon because it has to happen when Alex has a Jay Cutler-like game here in the next couple of weeks.
Mike Sando: What makes you think Hill could throw the ball all over the field without getting picked off? The 49ers need to take this incrementally on offense. They will need to throw it around at times because they will fall behind, like most teams. I think the 49ers can win with Hill or Smith at quarterback as long as they have a strong supporting cast. The offensive line is not good enough, in my view, and I think that puts limits on what Smith or Hill can accomplish consistently. The 49ers need to become less predictable by mixing up their personnel and tendencies a little more.
Kyle from Tempe writes: I am not sure how Greg Manusky feels about the 4-3 defense, but I know Mike Singletary is more experienced with a four-man front. With Patrick Willis proving he can be a dominating enough force in the middle and Aubrayo Franklin showing he can get it done up front, what are the odds the 49ers draft an elite defensive tackle and move to a 4-3? The reason I ask is because Takeo Spikes is on his way out and the reason the switch was made in the first place was to make the scheme fit the talent on hand.
Mike Sando: The 3-4 tendencies in San Francisco predated Takeo Spikes. Mike Nolan brought them from Baltimore. Singletary was there in Baltimore as well. Singletary's 4-3 roots date to his playing days 20 years ago. His coaching roots are more in the 3-4. It seems to me they are too far down the 3-4 road to make the 4-3 switch lightly.
Kyle from Tempe follows up: Mike, after reading this whole Jake Locker-to-San Francisco or Seattle angle, I am interested in whether you think the 49ers see QB as that pressing of a need. I know most 49er fans feel we need to grab a QB in the first round, but I would like to see help at safety and up front.
Mike Sando: The 49ers should proceed with caution before taking a quarterback early. I do not think the 49ers see it as a necessity to take one early. I'm sure they would love to find a franchise quarterback, but drafting a quarterback early does not make that quarterback a franchise player.
Kevin from Sylmar, Calif., writes: First of all, I want to praise you for all the hard work that you do. I was so glad that the Niners' four-game losing streak is over and we can move on. But can we get some love for the defense? I know everyone is thrashing Jay Cutler for the five picks, but the defense still has to take advantage of those mistakes and that's what the Niners did.
I mean, four interceptions by the secondary, which had been plagued with injuries, is impressive and they held a really good back to less than 50 yards rushing and no TDs.
My main question is why don't the Niners employ more play-action in the offense? I mean, Alex Smith would get more time in the pocket, help the O-Line, which needs as much help as they can get, and maybe we wouldnt have so many three-and-outs. What do you think?
Mike Sando: They're playing more shotgun with Smith under center, which diminishes traditional play-action as an option. I think they need to call more early-down runs from three-receiver personnel. They did it on Frank Gore's 14-yard touchdown run.