San Francisco 49ers: 5 Reasons Why the Offense Will Exceed Expectations in 2012
For the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, perhaps the most significant free agent acquisition was kicker David Akers.
He booted his way to a 166-point NFL single-season record for most points scored without a touchdown. His 44 made field goals qualified as another all-time league mark.
Akers’ 49er teammates, coaches and fans in San Francisco and beyond, certainly appreciated his contributions to 43.7 percent of the team’s 2011-point total.
But not that much.
In 2012, the 49ers will acquire key playmakers through the draft and free agency.
They will enable Alex Smith to orchestrate a dynamic West Coast offense worthy of a top 10 ranking by season’s end.
And will relegate Akers and his field goals to the sideline more often than not.
Come join me as I detail why the Niners’ 2011 offensive deficiencies will truly be a thing of the past.
Note: This is a hypothetical scenario. But screw the unable-to-be determined. Let’s dream.
Sign a WR
Free agency will be a veritable frenzy come March 13.
Expect the usually low-key 49ers to play a more active role this time around.
My bet is on Steve Johnson, the former Bills wide out. He has strong Bay Area ties—born in San Francisco and attended Angelo Rodriguez High in Fairfield, CA.
He possesses solid measurables (speed, height), runs exceptional routes and has reliable hands—amassing 75-plus receptions in each of the previous two seasons.
I foresee Johnson desiring to return home and play for a Super Bowl-contending team, after his miserable experience with Buffalo’s tragic collapse last season.
No. 13’s ultimate value lies in his perfect compatibility with the schematics of a West Coast offense—his precise underneath routes and good hands will regularly move the chains.
Successfully fulfilling his role will then open up room for big plays down the field.
Speaking of which…
Draft a WR
The 49ers own the 30th selection in the first-round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Big-time wide receiver, here we come.
Surveying the interminable draft data covering this position lent credence to two attractive options possibly available to the 49ers.
Mohamed Sanu and Alshon Jeffery. As always, much respect for B/R’s own Matt Miller and his New Era Scouting.
Sanu is more likely to land in San Fran, since Trent Baalke would have to engage in some draft day dealings to snag the higher-rated Jeffery. However, Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft says otherwise.
In any case, both are legitimate downfield weapons, with Sanu being equipped with better speed, and Jeffery possessing superior height and leaping abilities.
Then watch, as Alex Smith attains the fundamental goal of a West Coast offense, by hitting the big play to Sanu streaking down the middle or to a mid-air Jeffery in the end zone.
I see this coming to fruition more than a couple times.
Josh Morgan—Get Healthy
Morgan displayed his worth in both 2010 and the early part of 2011 by averaging over 15 yards per catch and hauling in deep balls.
He has a great rapport with Smith, and the coaching staff appreciates his work ethic and value within their system.
If fully healthy, he buttresses an already formidable wide receiving corps if the 49ers do indeed sign those aforementioned playmakers.
Salivate over the combination of Sanu/Jeffery, Johnson, Crabtree, Davis, Walker (Delanie) and…
I confidently envisage this explosive, change-of-pace back occupying a spot in the fraternity of all-important, all-purpose offensive NFL threats for the Niners in 2012.
Hunter showed potent abilities (preseason varietal) in limited action, in both the run and passing game last year. He accrued 473 rushing yards at a 4.2-yard clip, and contributed just under 200 yards and an impressive 12.2 yard per reception in the passing attack.
He will become more involved in the offense, after a complete offseason studying the playbook and spelling an aging Frank Gore.
Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman’s version of the West Coast offense will utilize his big play potential out of the backfield, and perhaps even out wide.
I anticipate Hunter doubling his production in 2012, and being a major factor in this surging offense.
Harbaugh and Roman Bring It All Together
Last but not least, we come to the architects of the 2012 49ers offense that will climb the NFL ranks into a top 10 attack.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman will have the luxury of a prototypical offseason, unimpeded by an odious lockout.
They will have ample time to develop, expand and innovate their playbook. More importantly, they will be able to actually share it with the team and put it into practice at minicamps, OTAs and a full training camp.
Harbaugh will incorporate his ingenious use of tight ends with Davis and Walker into a West Coast offense that finally features a NFL-caliber group of wide receivers.
Both coaches will further capitalize on a killer passing game by grounding and pounding opponents into the dirt with Gore and Hunter as the game expires.
As the chain-smoking Ray Arnold (played by Samuel L. Jackson) from Jurassic Park famously said, “Hold on to your butts.” It’s gonna be a wild ride.