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Five questions with the San Francisco 49ers

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This week the San Francisco 49ers travel across the country into the apparently soon to be frozen tundra of Lincoln Financial Field. In anticipation of that game, I traded some questions with Fooch of the great niners blog Niners Nation.

Check out over there for my answers to his questions.

Since we don't have a Cardinal on our helmet, can we expect the Niners not to be super motivated this weekend? I kid sort of... But seriously, is it me or have their two best efforts by this year been against the Cards?

I think part of the reason (a big part) for the strong performances against Arizona is the fact that they're a divisional foe.  They see them twice a year, every year, and I think that makes it easier to figure them out, and not get caught off guard each year.  However, they've actually put together some other impressive efforts.  They gave up a lot of yards to Peyton Manning but sacked him 3 times (a season high at that point for Manning) and gave up no passing touchdowns to Manning.  They put up a strong effort against Brett Favre and the Packers.  The 49ers problem has been inconsistency at times.  They blew a very winnable game against Seattle that would have made this game an even bigger wildcard battle.  Instead, the 49ers are on the wrong side of the playoff bubble, looking to just stay alive.

More after the jump.

The 49ers haven't been a very good road team this year, with just one win and that coming against the aforementioned Cards in week one. Is that on the coaching? The youth? Bad luck? I'd imagine traveling across the country on a short week won't help.

The biggest concern I have, aside from facing DeSean Jackson, is having to deal with him and the rest of the Eagles in a 10am pacific time start.  The 49ers, and other west coast teams struggle with the early starts.  While the NFL has helped teams like the Patriots in packaging west coast trips into one long road trip, the 49ers, Seahawks and others, get screwed with early games and the NFL doesn't really give a crap.  The 49ers road woes overall have come in games that the team could have won.  The problem has been a mix of everything from coaching issues to execution, to some pretty hideous luck.

Is the QB who is going to eventually lead the 49ers back to the postseason on the roster right now?

I think so.  Alex Smith will likely be the starting QB in 2010, and with the addition of some offensive line help, it might be enough to get this team back to the playoffs.  Nate Davis may or may not be the long term answer for the 49ers, but for now, I think Alex Smith can help guide this team to the playoffs.  Maybe he's not a franchise QB, but he's definitely a solid option.  The 49ers are long shots to make the playoffs, this year, but I expect a playoff appearance next season behind Alex Smith.

What are the big holes on the roster right now?

Offensive line is far and away the biggest issue to be addressed this coming offseason.  Whatever offense the team settles on, they need to improve the line to keep Alex Smith on his feet and Frank Gore finding holes.  That has been the biggest issue this season.

Beyond that, the team could use some help in the secondary.  Other than that, we've seen an improvement in the pass rush with the trio of Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson and Ahmad Brooks.  An extra body could be helpful, but much of the defense seems to be settling in.

Give us one guy who we probably don't know but will surprise us this Sunday. Bear in mind that we know Patrick Willis & Frank Gore...

CB Shawntae Spencer isn't really a "young guy" anymore, but expect to see him covering DeSean Jackson for much of the day.  Alongside him, we might see CB Tarell Brown get some coverage on Jackson.  Given Jackson's performance in special teams, expect to be impressed by the leg of punter Andy Lee.  He's got impressive distance and hang time.  Finally, keep an eye out for nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin.  He doesn't put up the crazy stats, but he is an a big-time impact player against the run.