In this week’s Invading the Nest series, I was able to ask Joshua Russell of NinersNuggets.com some questions about his beloved 49ers. His team may be sitting at the bottom of their division at 0-4, but they’re definitely much better than their record indicates.
Read below to see Josh’s feelings on his 49ers and some thoughts he has on the upcoming matchup with the Eagles.
BirdsFan: There can’t be any 49ers fans happy with how the team's record sits right now. However, they’ve played some good teams very tough. What is holding them back from getting over the hump?
NinersNuggets: It has been a very frustrating year so far. Three things stand out so far:
1. Ironically, despite Mike Singletary as the 49ers coach, the Niners seem to lack a killer instinct.
2. Though it pains me to say it, the 49ers have been out-coached and out-strategized thus far.
3. See below, but the quarterback position has been subpar to say the least.
BF: What are your feelings towards Alex Smith? He seems to be playing very mediocre and I’ve seen some 49ers fans being quite negative towards him.
NN: I just wrote a blog post about this very issue. It is shocking to me that Alex Smith has kept his starting job given how poorly he has played. Mike Singletary has banked on him and for whatever reason, feels he cannot go back. 49ers fans are done buying into the idea that Alex can be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. No more excuses. If he performs poorly one more time, I think fans will be calling for his head and rightfully so.
BF: Eagles long-time great Brian Westbrook now plays for the 49ers; however, he’s seen basically no action this year. Why is that? Do you think he should be used more?
NN: I was going to ask you the same question. We signed Westbrook in the offseason when 49ers backup running back Glen Coffee suddenly retired. I cannot fathom the reason why Westbrook hasn’t been integrated into the offense. Only thing I can think of is that he is still learning the playbook. But the 49ers have a new offensive coordinator and my hope is that they find a way to use Westbrook more to help open up the offense.
BF: What player has been the most pleasant surprise for the 49ers? Which player has been the opposite?
NN: I wish I had a long list to choose from, but when your team is 0-4, the reality is nobody is playing particularly well. However, the most pleasant surprise thus far for me has been rookie Taylor Mays, who just earned a starting job after showing some real promise against the Falcons and scoring his first career defensive/special teams touchdown. I thought he would be slower to come along.
As for disappointing, it has to be a tie between Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree. I thought there would be a chemistry and rhythm between them both and that they would both have breakout years. So far, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
BF: As a 49ers fan, do you let out a sigh of relief knowing that you will play against Kevin Kolb and not Michael Vick? What are your thoughts on Kolb?
NN: In a word, yes. I actually believed that the 49ers should have gone after Michael Vick when he was available. But I guess they didn’t want to deal with the animal rights headaches. As for Kolb, I thought he was going to have a very good year based on what I saw last year. Now, I believe he’s in a real tough position because the fans have seen what Vick can do and that is just not Kolb’s game. So, I think he’s in a no-win situation.
BF: On Sunday, where will the 49ers have an advantage on offense? On defense?
NN: Unless proven otherwise, the 49ers will never have the advantage on offense. As long as they have Patrick Willis, their defense will be the catalyst.
BF: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?
NN: I haven’t seen much of the Eagles this year but with no Vick and maybe no McCoy, and with the way Alex Smith and the offense has been playing, I think they definitely have the advantage on defense. No question.
BF: What player could be a potential x-factor for the 49ers?
NN: Brian Westbrook—what better way to get integrated into the offense than against his old team. If the 49ers can work him in, I think he can help spread the offense out and provide a much needed and missing weapon.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
NN: Eagles 16, 49ers 13