A new Offensive Coordinator, a few new players, quarterback controversy, growing young defense, inconsistent offensive line, Vernon Davis, a cornucopia of questionable WR's, and...Frank Gore.
This is the 2008 San Francisco 49ers.
I know in a previous article I mentioned that the 49er offense will slump once again, giving the defense more play time than they should thus having yet another losing season. However...
What of Frank Gore? The star of the 49er '06 season, and perhaps the star of all the NFC running backs at that time.
Because of an inexperienced offensive coordinator, the seemingly promising but disappointing O-Line performance, and lack of any air attack whatsoever, Frank Gore's effectiveness diminished in '07.
To some people it may not have been because of all that. Gore could have possibly been a one season wonder.
However I'm here to say it is the former, and how well he does next year will determine the success of the 49er offense, therefore the 49er season.
Consider Cadillac Williams and his one great year, Reuben Droughns and that one good year with the Broncos.
Let's focus on the 49ers and remember a guy named Kevan Barlow sharing time with Garrison Hearst, in which he had one decent season (remember him?).
At that time many thought he really was the future, and now I don't think he's currently on any team- oh the Dennis Ericson days.
Anyway, Frank Gore must succeed. In a popular philosophy many agree with, in order to be successful a team must have a running game.
When we look at Mike Martz in his glory days back with the Rams, he had future hall of famer Marshall Faulk and then Steven Jackson (even his backup running backs I recall were fairly decent).
Critics say he dislikes running the ball but I hardly think so, otherwise we wouldn't call Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson great while Martz was there.
Looking back at Frank Gore's ability, Martz now has that running back: he can run, and has pretty decent hands (not saying he's currently as good as Marshall Faulk, but I claim to be on par with Steven Jackson).
Even with the joke offense the niners had in '07, Frank Gore was still able to surpass the 1000-yard mark.
How is that possible?
Because Frank Gore is incredible and fights for yards. So, provided the Offensive Line gets bolstered in the draft or in the next months of fr, ee agency, and more importantly, improves drastically in consistency and mentality, this Offense will flourish.
Any good running game takes pressure off the QB, opening up the air attack. In order for Martz to have his successful passing game, he needs this great running back, and vice versa.
If that should happen, the 49ers will win the West. Seattle only wins the West because every other team is terrible.
Remember, two seasons ago in Gore's best season, the 49ers beat the Seahawks both times.
In addition, anyone can agree that even though Seattle won the West in the recent years, the records were 8-8, 9-7, 10-6 alongside teams that are 5-11,4-12, 6-10 etc, shows how good they really aren't.
Though I suppose we should watch out for the Cardinals being the next team to challenge Seattle for the West, but like any other team that has been out of the playoffs for 8938 years (or whatever the actual number is), they'll just end up blowing it for themselves again.
So Frank Gore, our hope rests in your hands. Please have a great season, save Mike Nolan and Alex Smith's jobs, and make football fun again for 49er fans.