Friday, August 13, 2010
2010 San Francisco 49er's Preview
2009 saw the 49ers continue to improve under hard-nosed head coach Mike Singeltary. Alex Smith started to show a little of the promise that encouraged SF to take him 1st overall a few seasons ago. Fans are hoping for much of the same this season from a team that just might surprise some people around the league.
At points last season, the 49er offense looked sluggish until QB Alex Smith regained his starting role and began to move the ball down the field. Smith is competent working out of the shotgun in the spread offense. The Niners also went out and got him a deep threat in WR Ted Ginn Jr., so expect to see more of that formation this season. WRs Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan are very good threats on the outside and TE Vernon Davis is a fantasy stud and a matchup nightmare for defenses. No linebacker in the NFL can stay with him, and he's too strong for most safeties. He might be the third best TE in the league; behind Antonio Gates & Jason Witten. This will allow Ginn to streak down the slot for long bombs. Hopefully he can hold on to the football this season, as his 7 drops last year were among the league's leaders. The OL is decent but an broken foot suffered by C Eric Heitmann will hurt the effectiveness of RB Frank Gore early on. If healthy he'll still be able to rack up another 1,000 season. Rookie RB Anthony Dixon will get a few looks our of the backfield when Gore needs a breather.
Defensively, the Niners take on a lot of the characteristics of their scrappy head coach. The DL has good size, but LB Patrick Willis is the heart of soul of the defensive unit. He racks up a ton of tackles, a few picks, forces fumbles and also manages to get a handful of sacks to boot. He's the best middle linebacker in the NFL. To aid him SF picked up veteran LB Takeo Spikes in the off-season and combined with Manny Lawson they form a very solid tandem. The DBs are decent, with CB Nate Clements being the most capable of shutting down opposing receivers.
If the offense can muster up enough points with Alex Smith under center the Niners should continue to improve, challenge for the division title and a playoff spot. The defense is good enough to always keep them in games. Look for the young up-and-coming team to improve as the season progresses and be competitive week in and week out.