TPP: The Pewter Plank
MH: Matt Ham, Niner’s Noise
TPP: I don’t want to take anything away from your 3-1, but a lot of people view the 49ers as overrated. You beat two really awful teams, lost to the Cowboys when you were leading and Romo had half a lung and beat an Eagles team even your own players say quit on the game. What have you seen that truly makes you believe the 49ers are for real and can make a serious championship run?
MH: This is the first time in 3 years the 49ers haven’t been picked by the so called “experts” to win the west and be “darkhorse” contender. The fact is this is the best 49er team we’ve seen since 2002, the talent is there. The real question with the 49ers is the QB position where we are stuck yet again with Alex Smith at the helm. What I have seen out of this team that makes me believe we will in fact win the west and return to the playoffs for the first time since that 02 season is we finally have a coach that is putting it all together. The defensive front 7 of the 49ers is excellent, one of the very best in the league, teams cannot run the ball vs the 49ers. Alex Smith is finally making sound decisions and statistically is 2nd to only Tom Brady vs the blitz this season. In short, this team isn’t going to shoot itself in the foot like it has so often in past seasons. The 49ers will win the games we’re supposed to win and even surprise you in a couple others this season just like we did in the Eagles game.
TPP: Alex Smith was viewed as a guy who wasn’t even going to have a starting job let alone one in San Fran. Now he is the starter of a 3-1 squad and has yet another new head coach. Is Alex Smith finally going to develop into the quarterback the 49ers wanted from the start or is still just a stepping stone to another quarterback like Colin Kaepernick?
MH: As of right now I’m not going to give Alex Smith any long term credit. He looks good this season yes, but this is year number seven. Alex is going to have to play good-great all season long to make 49er fans believers that he’s anything more than a stop gap before we turn it over to Colin Kaepernick. With that said I do believe if Alex can do it, it’s going to be under the coach Harbaugh, this is his last chance to prove himself that’s for sure.
TPP: There is no denying that what San Fran has been lacking in offense they have more than made up for in defense. But are they ever going to be able to shine on an elite level or will they go down in history as a defense that was never able to blossom due to a faulty offense? What effect has the poor offense holding back the strong defense had on Patrick Willis?
MH: You nailed it right on the head here, the defense up until this point hasn’t been able to garner the credit they deserve due to the offense. Over the past few seasons the defense was on the field way too much and had no chance to pull the team out of some of the games we lost. While the front 7 is elite, and the defensive backfield is improving we still have some work to do in pass coverage. The thing the defense and this team has going for them is aside from a few veterans they are a young team, I believe the 49ers are close to putting it all together so to answer your question the defense will be known as an elite unit soon enough.
TPP: What is your impression of Jim Harbaugh at this point in his tenure in the bay area? Is he largely responsible for this 3-1 start or is he inheriting a team that was waiting to blossom?
MH: Without Jim Harbaugh this team would either be 2-2 or 1-3. Watching him on the sidelines is completely different than say a Mike Singleary or Mike Noaln lead team. He has the team playing with confidence, the QB making good decisions and he calls a good offensive game.
TPP: Finally, both of these teams are playing inspired but in your honest and elite football opinion: who wins on Sunday and why do they win?
MH: It’s going to be a very close game that will come down to 4th quarter execution. This game will be won in the trenches and that’s why I think the 49ers edge out the win.