Q: What is the possibility of taking a quarterback with the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft despite having Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre?
MM: I'll say this, we'll look at every athlete on the board. I think it's important to take the best player available. This is an outstanding year for quarterbacks, so we'll look at everybody. It will definitely be part of our discussions.
Q: Would you rather have a playmaker on offense or defense with the No. 5 pick?
MM: When you pick this high in the draft, you need to have a difference-maker. As a playmaker on offense or defense, he needs to be a player who can help this football team for 10-plus years. That's how I view picking in the top five or the top 10.
Q: How much can this pick help you?
MM: I think a pick this high should help any team in the National Football League. There's going to be a very quality football player at that spot. We need to make sure we get the right one for the Green Bay Packers.
Q: What is the most glaring need for your team? Like everywhere, other than offensive
MM: The season last year was a lot like the one I experienced out west. There's a lot of different players in there, so continuity is a part of our game. I thought the defense was able … as you watched the defense during the season, you saw continuity building. On offense, where most of the injuries were, the continuity wasn't there. It's not a matter of we need this position or that position, our issues right now from my viewpoint are health. We need to get people healthy. We need to get people back. We need to get that continuity back, particularly on the offensive line like we had in the past.
Q: The backfield, too?
MM: In the West Coast offense or the West Coast system, it has the ability to take advantage of all your different personnel groupings. Obviously, the Green Bay Packers have been very fortunate, Brett has played 200-plus games (221) in a row, but my experience in this league is that you have to develop the quarterback position starting in the off-season. We need to improve that position so that whoever is behind the center gives us the best opportunity to use our personnel. We're teaching a system of football that utilizes our players as a whole. We'll never just build around one player. Obviously, who the quarterback is, as a play-caller, you're able to push the envelope based on who is under center, there's no doubt about that. That's really a decision that applies to whether Brett Favre plays next year or not.
Q: What are your thoughts on Samkon Gado?
MM:He obviously jumped in there and made some plays in I think his second game here. I really like the whole stable of backs. One thing that you do see is a lot of depth at that position. I like the group as a whole, but obviously Gado is someone who has been impressive.
Q: Do the Packers need another wide receiver?
MM: That's a great question. I think our No. 1 need is to get healthy. I think the medical progress of those individuals is important to how we go. That's something we hope we'll have more information on between now and the draft.
Q: Are you a head coach sooner than you expected?
MM: My goal, not to be egotistical, was to be a head coach by age 40. Two years too late is definitely OK with me. I think opportunities present themselves sometimes when you least expect it. After our season in San Francisco, I'm not going to lie, I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for an interview.
Q: Your thoughts on Alex Smith last season?
MM:I think he vastly improved. That's playing the quarterback position. There is no substitute for experience. I told Alex over and over throughout the season, I used Brett as an example the most important statistic for a quarterback is availability. You can point out passing ratings, but if you're not available to play week in and week out, you're not going to grow as a quarterback and obviously you're not going to grow as an offense. He played two games, got hurt in the second game and missed five of six, so I think he learned his lesson there. That happens with a lot of young quarterbacks taking hits on the sideline and you've got to protect yourself in those situations. As far as his progress, I thought he improved on a weekly basis.
Q: What do you think about the Niners' new system?
MM: I can't comment on that because I'm really not familiar with Norv's system. I don't think Alex Smith is going to be held back on his development because I think he's a very bright individual. That's a young offense out there. We played with seven rookies on offense. The development as a whole is something I'm sure will be a challenge but I think they're off to a great start. Mike Nolan definitely has that program going the right direction. I think they're only going to continue to get better.
Q: How will you approach the QBs differently at the Combine from last year
when you knew you were taking one?
MM: Obviously, it won't be to that extent. Last year, I watched every single snap of Aaron Rodgers and every single snap of Alex Smith. That will not be the case this year. From a pure evaluation process, just the amount of film and interaction. I don't see myself doing that this year.
Q: Will you watch the quarterbacks?
MM: I'll watch everybody this year. You have to evaluate the quarterbacks every year. It's very important to see where the starting point is. These guys come out of different systems and have a different level of maturity coming out of college because in 4-5 years your paths may cross again. I will always keep my thumb on the quarterback position.
Q: Why did you pass on Rodgers last year?
MM: I don't look at is as we passed on one and took the other. The fact that Aaron Rodgers was considered at No. 1 speaks volumes. I'm very excited he's a Green Bay Packer. I thought Aaron Rodgers was maybe a more polished quarterback than Alex at that point of his career. He had been in a system, a more traditional system than Alex. Alex played in a wide-open system. We just felt that Alex had some growth ahead of him. But as far as the mental part of it and the personality, we felt very good about both of those individuals.
Q: Did you explain to Rodgers why you passed on him?
MM:We didn't get into detail on it, but we talked and I asked him a question and basically addressed the matter. Aaron Rodgers is a great kid. We had a real nice visit about two weeks ago. I'm excited to work with him. Just the fact that he was considered for the No. 1 pick speaks volumes on him as a prospect. He's looking forward to playing the 49ers I think.
Q: Do you still feel that this is not a rebuilding process?
MM: I do not. I'm not going to change on that regardless of who is playing quarterback. Regardless of how our free agency situations play out. … We've got a long time until we play a football game and I'm very confident in the core players that we have under contract and the opportunity to get players back under contract and the people we're going to add in this draft. This is not a rebuilding stage.
Q: What are your feelings on guys who don't work out at the combine?
MM: What is my thought? I think anytime an individual has the opportunity to work out in front of this many people, he's wasting an opportunity. As far as getting emotional and letting it affect the evaluation process, it does not. Anytime you get involved in emotional decisions, I don't think that's smart, particularly in the evaluation stage. Everybody will be there at his workout. You can be mad regardless, but I understand why a lot of them do it. They want to be in the most comfortable environment. That's their choice. Does it effect whether you take them at No. 5 or not? I would say no.
Q: What are your thoughts on the NFC North?
MM: As far as the head coaches, they're guys I have a lot of respect for. I've competed against in the past and I think the division is definitely on the up. Obviously, I think with what Chicago has done last year tells you about where they're at with their program. Detroit has a very talented football team and I hold Rod Marinelli in very high regard. Minnesota is a talented football team and Brad Childress did an outstanding job in Philadelphia. I think it's going to be a very competitive division.