The San Francisco 49ers had high hopes for the 2007-08 season. The '06-'07 season ended strong, Alex Smith developed, and quality free agents were added. Everything was great in 49er land.
The season started, and the Niners won their first two games. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! But then.......
Alex Smith gets hurt (let me be clear: I am not in any way blaming Alex Smith's injury for the bad season), and Trent Dilfer comes in.
Trent was soooo horrible, no words could describe how bad he was. The offense was putrid.
The defense was forced into horrible field position, was not rested because the offense never sustained long drives, and had the pressure of preventing the team from getting too far behind (because the offense could not catch up).
As a result the defense played worse. The season went down the drain.
The 49ers have potential and could improve a lot. There are a couple needs. Here they are:
1. Need: Play-making wide receiver.
The Niners lack a No. 1 wide receiver that strikes fear into a defense. Darrell Jackson was a total bust and is nothing more than good 3rd or low-end 2nd receiver.
He might be a decent possession receiver, but is not a deep-threat or game-breaker.
Ashley Lelie never got on the field, and seems to have no ability at all.
Arnaz Battle is a nice receiver with good hands, but nothing special and not super athletic, and therefore, is a 2nd receiver at best.
Byron Gilmore and Jason Hill are okay, but are 3rd receivers at best.
Vernon Davis, even though he is a tight end, can line up wide and could be a decent receiver, but he isn't the answer.
Take either James Hardy, wide receiver out of Indiana University, or Early Doucet, wide receiver out of LSU, at the end of the first round (29th overall pick of Indianapolis acquired in a 2007 Draft day trade).
Maybe even trade for Chad Johnson, who is unhappy in Cincinnati. Another option is Bernard Berrian, who is an unrestricted free agent.
2. Need: Pass-rushing defensive lineman.
The 49ers could not rush the passer at all. The opposing quarterback had time to write an essay (or an article for that matter) before the pass rush would get there.
Giving any QB six, seven, or maybe even more seconds in pocket means you will be picked apart, regardless of how good the defensive backs are.
Bryant Young has retired.
Tully Banta-Cain has not shown to be an impact player. Issac Sopoaga and Marques Douglas are good, but that isn't enough.
Maybe take Quentin Groves, defensive end out of Auburn, or Kentwan Balmer, defensive end out of North Carolina, in the 1st or 2nd round.
Possibly look in free agency to build depth. Pass rushers don't grow on trees, and good ones are very rare. Finding one will be tough.
Outlook: Overall, the 49ers have a bright future.
The running back and tight end positions are solid. The offensive line, for the most part, is good. The wide receiver and quarterback position are in doubt. On defense, the linebackers, corners, and safeties are good. The defensive line needs help and the special teams are excellent.
Overall, this team is good.
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