San Francisco 49ers: Predicting Top Offensive, Defensive Stat Leaders
The San Francisco 49ers have been making strides already this offseason. The front office brought in some additional firepower through the NFL draft and free agency and, most importantly, retained all 11 starters on the league's best defense.
As we patiently await training camp a mere month away, there is already the anticipation of what the 2012 campaign will look like.
Out of the 32 NFL teams, San Francisco is one that is clearly on the rise, and organizations and analysts are beginning to take notice. This was a team that had a remarkable resurgence under Jim Harbaugh, taking a 6-10 team that had been stockpiling high first-round talent for nearly a decade and rapidly turning them into Super Bowl contenders.
In 2012, the 49ers are expected to field their most talented roster in almost 15 years. Considering what we saw from San Francisco's players last season, there are some assumptions to be made about the stat leaders for the '12 team.
With the proper personnel moves, system progression, chemistry and overall improvement, the following is a list of the projected stat leaders on both offense and defense this coming season.
Offensive Stat Leaders
Receiving Touchdowns: Vernon Davis, TE
Besides being Alex Smith's go-to guy, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis should have an expanded role in the red zone this season.
San Francisco knows they need to get better in scoring situations, and they are aware of what Davis brings to the table. The addition of Randy Moss will also work to open up opportunities for Davis, especially in goal situations with Moss out wide.
As one of the unique hybrid tight ends in the league, Davis is also capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Davis possesses that 4.3 speed to turn a shallow crosser into a 70-yard touchdown score.
Receptions/Receiving Yards: Michael Crabtree, WR
Michael Crabtree was the leading receiver last year in San Francisco, and in 2012, he has the surrounding cast to finally break out.
Crabtree saw his best numbers as a pro lining up from the split end receiver spot. Moss will draw the attention of the No. 1 cornerbacks, while Crabtree is more than capable of gutting teams on the underneath and intermediate routes.
The former first-ever two-time Biletnikoff winner from Texas Tech could break the 1,000-yard mark—a feat which hasn't been accomplished by a receiver in San Francisco since Terrell Owens in 2003.
Rushing Yards/Touchdowns: Frank Gore, RB
Gore might not be as fantasy-worthy as he once was, but he will get the majority of the touches and remain the starter in San Francisco.
He is still a tremendous football player with unbelievable vision and a unique running style. Even though he is in a crowded backfield, he will be leading that crowded backfield—Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman would not disrespect the franchise's all-time leading rusher by making him take a back seat.
Defensive Stat Leaders
Who will lead the San Francisco 49ers in tackles in 2012?
Tackles: NaVorro Bowman, LB
It's a bold prediction, but one supported by logic. NaVorro Bowman became an AP All-Pro in his first year as a starter with 143 total tackles—the guy is a stud.
But since he is paired with the one and only Patrick Willis, No. 52 is the one that fullbacks and guards are hunting for.
In one of the 49ers' losses of the season, Baltimore's Vontae Leach was clearly assigned to constantly get a helmet on Willis, which freed up Bowman.
Against the pass in 2011, Bowman's assignments were typically for the running back, while Willis' responsibilities lay with the covering the tight end, taking away that passing option.
Even with Willis healthy all year, there is a good chance Bowman is the 49ers' tackle leader because of what's asked of him. More often than not, the quarterback will check down and Bowman will make the tackle while Willis is 25 yards downfield in coverage.
Interceptions: Carlos Rogers, CB
Carlos Rogers was always a good cover corner, but he finally broke out in 2011, showing the league that he does indeed have hands.
Rogers recorded six interceptions last season, tying for first in the 49ers and fourth in the NFL. Rogers will again be the Niners' No. 1 corner and will have more opportunities to get his hands on the football. He is also on a defense that is still evolving, leaving him room to improve as an individual.
Sacks: Aldon Smith, OLB
As a rookie in 2011, first-round pick Aldon Smith only played 49 percent of the defensive snaps. In limited action, Smith posted 14 sacks for the 49ers as a pass-rush specialist. He is expected to assume full-time duties at the right outside linebacker position this year and will have more opportunities to get to the quarterback.
Even though he is the clear-cut sack specialist for San Francisco, it's going to be difficult to improve on 14 sacks. Either way, Smith could hit double-digits again and lead San Francisco in sacks for a second consecutive season.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?