San Francisco 49ers: Breaking Down the Potential Impact of Their Offseason Moves
San Francisco picked up a lot of players and filled a lot of holes in the draft and during free agency. San Francisco filled all the minor holes it need to fill, and the 49ers now appear to be completely set for 2013. The 49ers added depth on the defensive line, in the secondary and at wide receiver, helping out Colin Kaepernick while helping out a defense that struggled in the playoffs.
With its first draft pick, San Francisco picked Eric Reid, a safety out of LSU. Reid has the ability to make big plays, but he is also a player who doesn't give up big plays. Reid is best-known for intercepting a huge pass against Alabama in November of 2011, and he is going to be able to make a big impact in the secondary.
Did the 49ers do enough to improve the secondary?
Dashon Goldson, who left for Tampa Bay, gave up some big plays to Julio Jones in the NFC Championship Game, and he allowed Joe Flacco to rip apart the 49ers' defense.
Goldson is gone now, and Reid, who rarely gives up big plays, is going to take over and limit those plays. The 49ers lost the Super Bowl largely because of a 56-yard touchdown catch by Jacoby Jones, which was due to a miscommunication by the defense.
Nnamdi Asomugha will also help limit those plays. Asomugha, who was thrown at a mere 98 times from 2008-2010, can lock down top receivers, which is what he did across the bay with the Oakland Raiders. However, Asomugha failed to live up to his lucrative contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he was cut after just two years.
But if Asomugha can rekindle his success from Oakland, he could team up with Tarell Brown to improve a secondary that could definitely benefit from an upgrade.
San Francisco also added Cornellius "Tank" Carradine to the defensive line with its second-round pick. Carradine, who registered 11 sacks in 11 games before tearing his ACL, is likely going to play 5-technique, which is a 3-4 defensive end.
Carradine can be a solid edge-rusher for a team that failed to apply enough pressure deep in the playoffs, and if he can come off of his ACL tear and make a big impact he will be dominant in San Francisco.
The 49ers already have Justin Smith and Ray McDonald on the defensive line, so if Carradine can start immediately he will fill the third spot on the line. A defensive line with a healthy Smith, McDonald and Carradine is definitely going to apply pressure to the quarterback, and that's something the 49ers simply didn't do in their last two games.
San Francisco appears to be set on defense, as it has Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman anchoring the middle of the field and Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith as outside linebackers. The defense isn't going to allow many points, and the offense is going to score a lot of points.
Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers' athletic, strong-armed quarterback, will be leading the offense again. He'll have more weapons to work with now, due to San Francisco picking wide receiver Quinton Patton and running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore may not contribute in 2013, but he is a great power runner who will be able to use San Francisco's talented lineman to rack up lots of rushing yardage.
Patton caught 104 passes in 2012, including a remarkable 21 catches against Texas A&M. Against a Aggie defense with some decent players, Patton amazingly hauled in four touchdown catches while accumulating 233 yards. He can take over a game, and he can use his great hands to catch bullets from Kaepernick, which will make him a favorite target of the young quarterback.
Will Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton make big impacts?
Anquan Boldin will also emerge as a premier target for Kaepernick. Boldin made some huge catches in the playoffs, as he caught four touchdowns and accumulated 380 receiving yards in four playoff games. Boldin was a huge reason why the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and he can help propel the 49ers to a championship by helping Kaepernick.
The 49ers lacked receiving depth in 2012, and while they were plagued by injuries the injured players never made a huge impact catching passes. The addition of Patton will add depth and allow Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to get open with less attention on them, and it will allow the 49ers to have a spectacular offense.
It's safe to say these additions weren't exactly needed, but it's also safe to say that Trent Baalke knocked it out of the park with his offseason pickups. The 49ers added lots of depth, and they added potential starters at lots of positions. When the NFC champion makes noticeable improvements, it's always scary, and that's what the 49ers did this offseason.
A good amount of San Francisco's new players will end up starting, and they will all make impacts. If the 49ers' pass rush is improved by Carradine and outside linebacker Corey Lemonier, the secondary, which will likely surrender less big plays, will have an easier job. On offense, Patton and Boldin can assume larger roles immediately and shift the focus of attention away from Crabtree and Davis.
Expect the 49ers to be a better team in 2013. They seemingly have no holes, as each position is filled by capable players. San Francisco's offseason moves likely solidified its status as the best team in the NFL, and while there are other good teams in the league it would be hard for any team to beat the 49ers.
Why? Because, thanks to this offseason, the 49ers are almost as flawless as a team can be.
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