Before we get to the scintillating, stratifying inquiries that you've been missing all these months, I'd like to begin with a question for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh:
Would you like to be a "32Q" guest columnist one of these weeks?
Harbaugh, you see, likes to question questions like few others in NFL circles. Lately, he has been offering heartfelt critiques of the queries he receives from people in my business, which makes me believe he fashions himself an expert on the subject.
Last Friday, before the Niners headed off to Wisconsin for their season-opening showdown with the Packers at Lambeau Field, Harbaugh took issue with CSN Bay Area reporter John Henry Smith's question about Kyle Williams, whose overtime fumble set up the Giants' game-winning field goal in last January's NFC championship game. "Why do you continue to bring that up?" Harbaugh demanded. " "What is the reason?"
Back in August, Harbaugh became agitated during a media session, chiding reporters for asking "a lot of master-of-the-obvious questions today." And, of course, there was the understated interview last June with espn.com's Mike Sando in which Harbaugh referred to those who question his hard-to-fathom claim that the 49ers didn't pursue Peyton Manning over the offseason as residents of "a diabolical world."
In the football world, no coach is hotter than Harbaugh: On Sunday the Niners went into Lambeau and knocked off the Packers 30-22, defeating an NFC rival that last year didn't lose its first (and only) regular-season game until the week before Christmas. In doing so, the Niners looked potent enough to ascend to the top spot of our season-opening, weekly referendum on the NFL's pecking order, edging out the defending AFC champion Patriots, the team I picked to win the AFC and the defending AFC North champions, who happen to be coached by Harbaugh's brother, John.
As fate would have it, the Niners will put their No. 1 ranking on the line Sunday night at Candlestick Park against the Lions, meaning many of my media colleagues and I will be revisiting the post-handshake fracas that broke out between Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz after their game last October.
When the subject was broached at his media session Monday, Harbaugh – you guessed it – shut down the line of questioning, saying, "It's completely irrelevant to put it next to the game itself."
[Jason Cole: NFL QBs turned lose in Week 1, leads to record scoring]
Harbaugh and I go way back, and at the risk of being a master of the obvious, I kind of get the feeling he could use a stress-relieving diversion. So, when I see him at the 'Stick Sunday night, maybe I'll throw out my offer to let him be the first guest columnist in 32 Questions.
Hopefully, he won't mind my asking.
2. Baltimore Ravens: Would this be considered having your quarterback's back – and how many of Joe Flacco's peers on other teams are jealous right about now?
[Dan Wetzel: Ravens Lewis, Reed finally backed with explosive offense]
3. Houston Texans: Did J.J. Watt really pick up the Dolphins' snap count from "Hard Knocks," or does he just enjoy tweaking Dolphins owner Steve Ross?
4. New England Patriots: In the wake of the left-handed compliment Wes Welker threw at his buddy Tom Brady, can a One Tough Metrosexual clothing line be far behind?
5. Atlanta Falcons: How big of a bummer is that season-ending injury to the vastly underrated Brent Grimes – and how stoked is general manager Thomas Dimitroff that he swung that trade for Asante Samuel over the offseason?
6. Denver Broncos: When John Elway asked me after Sunday night's game if I "got those shoes from [former Broncos kicker] Jim Turner," did he instantly surpass Brady as the world's toughest metrosexual?
[Morning Rush: Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III give bosses sigh of relief]
7. Dallas Cowboys: During Kevin Ogletree's breakout game last Wednesday night, was I the only one reminded of legendary Slapshot thug Ogie Oglethorpe?
10. Pittsburgh Steelers: Can an increased dosage of Jonathan Dwyer give the Steelers' offense some balance – and help make a subpar offensive line look decent?
11. Detroit Lions: When Jim Schwartz says his recent meetings with Jim Harbaugh were "without incident," does he really mean "without speaking"?
13. Washington Redskins: Where the heck did Alfred Morris come from, and is there any doubt that Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary and Reuben Droughns are nodding in appreciation?
14. New York Jets: When Rex Ryan rails against the perception that his team operates amid a circus atmosphere, he does realize that he's the ringmaster, right?
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Who absorbed more punishment on Sunday – Michael Vick, or the people who started him on their fantasy teams?
16. San Diego Chargers: Who knew fresh meat could be so tough (and that undrafted rookie Michael Harris would be the dude protecting Philip Rivers' blind side)?
19. Seattle Seahawks: While wideout Doug Baldwin is recuperating from a dental procedure after he "officially got his teeth knocked in" against the Cardinals, will he console himself by watching movies featuring a certain international man of mystery?
[Jason Cole: Mistake by replacement refs deny Raiders a final play]
20. Cincinnati Bengals: If Cincy's secondary gets abused by Brandon Weeden next Sunday the way it did by Joe Flacco Monday night, would panic be a reasonable response?
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: When Warren Sapp called Gerald McCoy Sunday night, did the former Bucs star ask to speak to a "bigger and stronger" version of himself?
24. Minnesota Vikings: Has any kicker ever nailed a more impressive field goal in his first NFL game than Blair Walsh's 55-yarder at the end of regulation on Sunday?
25. Carolina Panthers: If one disappointing game earned Cam Newton a Jimmy Clausen comparison, would a second one bring him into JaMarcus Russell territory?
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Is it just me, or does it seem like the football gods are having some fun with Mike Mularkey in response to his ridiculous policy of fining players $10,000 for talking about injuries?
27. Cleveland Browns: After the way the Browns have treated their former starting quarterback over the past few months, doesn't the "clamoring for Colt" one game into Weeden's career seem like poetic justice?
28. Buffalo Bills: If Ryan Fitzpatrick is correct that Sunday's season-opening defeat to the Jets was a "wakeup call," why the heck were he and his teammates sleeping for the past eight months?
29. Indianapolis Colts: Which outstanding opening-day performance caused Colts fans to wince more violently – Peyton Manning's, or Robert Griffin III's?
32. Miami Dolphins: After telling a Miami Herald reporter that Ross doesn't have "blind faith" in general manager Jeff Ireland, did "a friend of" the team owner add that Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood have been enlisted as minority owners – and that "Can't Find My Way Home" is the organization's new theme song?
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