8 Early Winners and Losers of the San Francisco 49ers Offseason

Joseph AkeleyAnalyst IJune 21, 2013

8 Early Winners and Losers of the San Francisco 49ers Offseason

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    The San Francisco 49ers have had an eventful offseason highlighted by trades, free-agent losses and injuries.

    Although there's been plenty of bad developments, such as Michael Crabtree's torn Achilles, some players have to be pleased with what's happened over the last few months. 

    To clear up the mess, I've keyed in on some of the obvious winners and losers of San Francisco's offseason thus far. 

Winner: Justin Smith

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    It's not often that a 33-year-old defensive lineman who had injury issues the year prior gets a contract extension with guaranteed money. But that's exactly what happened to Justin Smith. 

    The four-time Pro Bowler signed a two-year extension that will keep him a 49er through 2015 if he plays to its conclusion.

    Smith said it's not a guarantee that he'll play for the duration of the contract, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch. Still, it has to be nice to get the potential contract questions out of the way before the 2013 season begins. 

Loser: Scott Tolzien

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    When Alex Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, Tolzien was left as the No. 2 quarterback on the San Francisco depth chart.

    Then the 49ers traded for Colt McCoy, and it's been downhill from there for Tolzien. 

    Mulitiple 49ers scribes, including Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle, have reported that McCoy was clearly winning the backup quarterback job in OTAs. 

    Realistically, Tolzien is battling with seventh-round pick B.J. Daniels to make the roster as the third-string quarterback. 

    I'm sure that wasn't what Tolzien had in mind when Smith was dealt. 

Winner: Anquan Boldin

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    If you're to be traded from a Super Bowl-winning team, how about ending up with the Super Bowl-losing team?

    Boldin was already having a good offseason when he was traded to the 49ers. Then, Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles, leaving Boldin as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in the 49er offense. 

    Did I mention it's a contract year for the 32-year-old?

    Boldin has a golden opportunity for a big year statistically, and more importantly he's on a team with a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

    It couldn't have been a much better offseason for the three-time Pro Bowler.

Loser: Michael Crabtree

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    This one is pretty self-explanatory. 

    Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles and will miss at least the first two months of the season—and possibly much more than that. 

    The timing of it could have been worse—like midway through this season—but still you have to feel for a guy who seemed ready to have his best season as a pro. 

    Crabtree is under contract through 2014, so he'll have the opportunity to prove his worth over the rest of this year and next before potentially hitting free agency. 

Winner: LaMichael James

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    James added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, and his role seems destined to be expanded in 2013.

    With running back Kendall Hunter and return specialist Kyle Williams both recovering from injuries, James took the lead role at both positions in OTAs. Following a practice in late May, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee wrote that James looked "more comfortable" catching punts.

    We already know how dangerous James can be returning kickoffs from his 62-yard return against the New England Patriots last year. Now, with Ted Ginn, Jr. on a different team, James has the opportunity to be the full-time kickoff and punt returner and the No. 2 running back. 

Loser: Chris Culliver

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    Before Super Bowl media day, Chris Culliver was simply known as a productive player with a lot of upside. 

    Now, he's known for intolerant comments and a dismal performance on football's biggest stage. 

    To recap, Culliver made anti-gay comments days before the Super Bowl that caused a stir. Then in April, Culliver posted a photo of a conversation on his Instagram account that caused another stir. 

    I'm sure the patience of the 49ers higher-ups is wearing thin with the talented cornerback. And his playing time is far from guaranteed too. 

    With Nnamdi Asomugha now in the fold, Culliver will have to battle for a spot as one of the team's top three cornerbacks. 

Winner: Vic Fangio

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    The 49ers beefed up their defense this offseason. 

    Sure, losing Dashon Goldson hurts, but drafting three potential impact defenders (Eric Reid, Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier) in the first three rounds of the draft should give Fangio more talent to work with in his defensive schemes. 

    Nnamdi Asomugha and Glenn Dorsey are also very talented players who were struggling with their former teams. Fangio might be just the man to revitalize their careers. 

    Overall, the 49ers added quality depth at every level of the defense. Sounds like a defensive coordinator's dream.

Loser: Greg Roman

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    First off, Roman likely would have been offered at least one head-coaching gig had the 49ers been eliminated before the Super Bowl. As all the spots were filling up, he was still coaching. 

    But, hey, having another go with the 49ers can't be so bad, right?

    Well, it doesn't help that Michael Crabtree is out indefinitely and versatile tight end Delanie Walker signed with the Tennessee Titans

    Sure, Roman signed a two-year extension on Wednesday, but that was a given. A coach as revered as Roman deserves a shot to be a head coach, and he'll have to prove he can lead an effective offense with injuries and inexperience at wide receiver to maintain his standing as one of the league's best offensive coordinators. 

    He may be up to the task, but all things considered, it hasn't been a great offseason for him.