San Francisco 49ers: 5 Positions of Need for This Offseason
It's never too early to start thinking about the offseason, especially in the NFL.
Last year, the San Francisco 49ers solidified their roster with significant additions in both free agency and the NFL draft.
The list of newbies included five starters in Carlos Rogers (Pro Bowl), Donte Whitner, Jonathan Goodwin, Bruce Miller and Aldon Smith.
This year, the 49ers will have plenty of opportunity to solidify an already playoff-winning roster.
Here are some key positions to look for:
The Right Guy at Right Guard
Wouldn't it be nice to have two of these guys?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
In the 2010 draft, the San Francisco 49ers drafted two offensive linemen in the first round, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.
Yet, the San Francisco 49ers' pass protection was pretty shaky for most of the 2011 season.
Especially at the right guard spot.
Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder rotated in and out at right guard all season with marginal effectiveness.
This inconsistency also impacted the play of right tackle Davis.
As a result, the San Francisco 49ers had an open wound on the right side of the offensive line.
The problem is so bad, the 49ers might approach this need through both free agency and the draft.
Look for them to find a new starter who possesses the strength, agility and acceleration to handle the multiple pulls, traps and counters that the 49ers like to run the ball behind.
A Play-Making Receiver
Down goes Morgan
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
When Josh Morgan went down in Week 5 against Tampa Bay, the San Francisco 49ers became instantly depleted at the wide receiver position.
Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams would round out the group returning for 2012.
This corps is serviceable but lacks consistent explosion.
The 49ers could make a big free agent splash on a play-making receiver if one becomes available.
More Defensive Backs
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Both Carlos Rodgers and Dashon Goldson are Pro Bowlers but also free agents.
It is unlikely that the 49ers will keep both going into 2012.
With Tarrell Brown and Chris Culliver coming into their own at corner and Rogers turning 31 over the offseason, Rodgers is the likely candidate to be let go over Goldson.
A Future Heir Apparent to the Great Frank Gore?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Although his hair is the best on the team, Anthony Dixon doesn't seem to be establishing himself as the heir apparent to Frank Gore.
Replaced by Kendall Hunter this season, Dixon's total carries decreased by 41 attempts.
Kendall Hunter, who is a perfect complement to Gore but at 5'7", might not have the bulk to be a featured back in the NFL.
Gore won't last forever, and as often and aggressive as the San Francisco 49ers run the ball, looking towards the future is never a bad thing.
The Front Seven
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The San Francisco 49ers showcased the best front seven in the entire NFL during the 2011 season.
The only departure that the team should see out of this core group is linebacker Parys Haralson would be replaced by rookie sensation Aldon Smith.
Meanwhile, although Justin Smith seems to be getting stronger with every snap at right end, he's sadly not getting any younger.
Look for the 49ers to add some depth for the front seven this coming offseason.