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How have the 49ers done it?

Here's my prediction for the Super Bowl


Paul from De Pere, WI

If you were looking at a mock draft, and what the board looks like when we get on the clock in the first round, is offense or defense more likely?

There were 15 offensive and 17 defensive players selected in the first round of last year's draft, but that balance was achieved in spurts. The first five players selected last season were on offense. Twelve of the next 14 picks were on defense. I think we're going to see something similar to that this year. I think the deep crop of defensive linemen will cause a run at the position after the first few defensive linemen are picked, which was exactly the case last season. Where that kind of run starts will determine where it ends and what's available for the Packers at pick No. 26. At this point in time, I would expect more defensive talent than offensive talent to be on the board late in the first round.

Colin from Beloit, WI

Vic, I know wide receivers are a dime a dozen and that we could get one in the later rounds, however, after watching the Senior Bowl practices, I was just curious about your thoughts on Baylor WR Terrance Williams.

He was outstanding in the first practice of the week, on Monday, which was a no-pads day, but then he kind of disappeared when the pads went on the next two days. That's when Markus Wheaton of Oregon State began to rise. Wheaton has a little bit of a running back's physique, and he plays like it.

Sebastian from San Jose,Costa Rica

Vic, what happens to a team that goes over the salary cap?

If the team fails to get under the cap, the league steps in and begins voiding contracts in chronological reverse order until the team is under the cap.

Brad from Denver, CO

When do teams start getting their draft boards in order? Is it an ongoing process throughout the year or do specific events such as the Senior Bowl and the combine have major influence in shaping it?

The Senior Bowl does, the combine usually doesn't. Most teams have their board done before they go to the combine. The reason for that is they don't want "underwear" workouts to weigh too heavily in their player rankings. They want real football to be the No. 1 factor in grading and ranking players. When they come back from the combine, they use the information they gathered there to tweak or adjust their boards.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

Now that you have admitted (in a previous column) that BAP and needs drafting amount to basically the same thing for most teams, let's devise a new label for this: value drafting. Its definition would be drafting in such a way as not to overpay for the man selected. Thoughts?

Whatever works for you is OK with me, as long as it means that a value-picking team is picking from the top of its board. I am adamant about that, and not only because of how it pertains to a team's payroll structure and salary cap, but because I think it's insane to leave a better player for your competition to draft.

Dustin from Seward, NE

Joe Flacco does not seem to be thrilled about the idea of the Super Bowl being played at MetLife Stadium next year. What do you think about it?

I'll reserve judgment until I see how it turns out, but I'm among the crowd that believes the Super Bowl should be played in warm, sunny places, not so much because of the game, but because the Super Bowl should be a place for fans to have fun. We're having a snowstorm in Green Bay today. I am not having fun.

Susan from Neenah, WI

What does it mean when someone is a healthy scratch for a game? Why does this occur and who initiates it?

A "healthy scratch" means a player's physical condition wasn't a factor in him being deactivated for the game. The head coach makes decisions on how to shape his game-day actives, and special teams have a lot to do with it. For example, a fifth wide receiver that doesn't play special teams isn't likely to get much playing time, so why make him active?

Jeff from Milwaukee, WI

You mentioned a team you covered that had major cap issues. Has an NFL team ever had cap problems so severe they were unable to field a proper team? If so, how would the team get out of such a mess if they owed players money several years out?

It was believed that had the CBA of 2006, an agreement the owners would almost immediately regret having signed, not occurred, the Redskins would not have been able to get under the cap. It was believed by most cap experts that cutting players would've only worsened the Redskins' situation because it would've accelerated the players' bonus amortization into the current year's cap. Had there been no CBA of 2006, and had the Redskins not been able to get under the cap, the league would've been faced with a very delicate matter involving one of the league's premier franchises. The Redskins would've, no doubt, been hit with huge penalties. More importantly, the whole salary cap system could've collapsed. It might be the only thing about the CBA of 2006 that was good; it allowed the Redskins more cap room so they could get under.

Nick from State College, PA

After the Senior Bowl, what are your thoughts on John Jenkins?

Big-time plug at nose tackle for a 3-4 team, and a player whose quickness allows creativity in how Jenkins might be used.

Dustin from Bloomington, MN

If Jeff Saturday signed a one-day contract to retire as a Colt, would the $825,000 in dead money still count against the Packers' cap, even though he signed with another team?

Yes, because that $825,000 isn't salary, it's bonus money, and that stays with the team that paid it.

Mike from Bussey, IA

Regarding the Jeff Saturday situation, you wrote that he'll only count $825,000 in dead money. Is it really possible to use the terms "only" and "$825,000" in the same sentence?

Yeah, it is, because $825,000 of dead money for a player a year after you signed him in free agency is an extremely minor amount of money. First of all, that's what's going to be left on the Packers' cap; it is not a reflection of the cap room the Packers will realize this year as a result of the salary Saturday was to make being extinguished. He's $825,000 in dead money but he's a cap savings. It leaves no doubt in my mind the Packers structured his contract with protection in case Saturday was a one-year fix. It's a perfect example of how protective the Packers are of their salary cap health, which is another way of saying being protective of the team's future.

Greg from Keauhou, HI

Vic, your experience and answers are usually good and helpful, but a strength can also be a weakness. For example, a guy asked about cheerleader reps at the Pro Bowl. It's obvious you didn't know the answer – neither do I – so why not just say, "I don't know," rather than conjure up a pejorative response like, "probably based on the quality of their cheering." Hey, when you have a lot of knowledge, it's hard for the ego to say I don't know, but maybe you should say it once in a while. I think it would improve your image in the minds of some nasty critics that I read as they respond to your opinions.

So you don't think it's the cheering, huh?

Aaron from Seattle, WA

After the Super Bowl, the next thing to look forward to is the combine. When does it take place? What is the criteria used to determine who gets invited?

The combine will be conducted in Indianapolis on Feb. 21-24. The format is a little tighter this year, but it'll basically be the same event to which we are accustomed. It invites what pro football talent people consider to be the top prospects in each year's draft class.

Garrett from Lima, OH

49ers or Ravens? Why?

I believe the 49ers will win because I believe they're the better team. The Ravens got hot at the right time, but these aren't the Ravens of old. These Ravens are a shadow of their former selves on defense. No. 20 against the run? I expect the 49ers to run for a lot of yards, but you never know.

Rob from Vienna, Austria

I just saw a table showing how the 49ers were built. I saw a lot of first-round picks. I'm wondering how they have managed their costs while retaining so many high draft picks. I also saw how many high picks they chose correctly. How could they do it?

They've done a good job in the draft, which is the affordable way to build a team. They also hit on some big-time players that aren't first-round picks: Colin Kaepernick and NaVorro Bowman, for example. A quarterback who wasn't taken in the first round and is on his first contract provides a lot of cap space. That won't happen the next time around. The bill will start coming due for a lot of the young players that are becoming stars, and that's when football will become a game of replacement for the 49ers. In the salary cap era, you must be willing to let players leave or your cap will fall into disrepair.

Evan from Chicago, IL

You have mentioned every team is looking for the next Tony Boselli. I know he was the Jaguars' first-ever pick, but my only memory of him is being taken in the Texans expansion draft and never playing. What attributes made him so great prior to his injury and what was the injury that derailed his career?

He's the best pass blocker I've ever covered. He might be the best pass blocker the league has known since Anthony Munoz, another USC grad. That's what I mean by the USC mystique, and it goes way back, back to guys such as Ron Yary, when right tackle was the premier tackle position. Now we have Matt Kalil. Clearly, if you want a tackle, go to USC to find one. Tony was a natural. He pass blocked like I used to eat hot dogs. Then pass blocking did the same thing to Tony that eating hot dogs did to me; it forced him to quit. He's the only guy I've ever known who had double labrum surgery. Think about all the things you can't do when both arms are wired to your body. Most people get one labrum fixed at a time, but Tony always rushed to get back onto the field. He did the same thing with an ACL.

Brian from Collingswood, NJ

Has a former or current NFL player ever sent in a question to "Ask Vic"?

Fred Taylor was an "Ask Vic" junkie. He even did the column for me once when I went on vacation.

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