If Jimmy Raye's offense executes,then the 49ers will have a decent year and may exceed expectations. The 49er's defense is sturdy enough to keep the team in games and if the offense is an upgrade over incumbent Mike Martz's leadership, the 49ers could surprise in the NFC.
The 49er's offense is now predicated upon another Coryell system, that Raye has mastered throughout the years from Norv Turner, culminating with the coaching veteran being Turner's offensive coordinator as a member of the Oakland Raiders.
Question marks at the quarterback position still plague the team, but Raye's direction may do the trick for Alex Smith, who is already familiar with Turner's version of the "Air Coryell." If Smith grasps the offense as he did when Turner was in San Francisco, expect Smith to give incumbent Shaun Hill a run for his money as the starting quarterback during training camp.
Smith has now learned the West Coast Offense, the Norv Turner version of the Coryell offense, the confused "I'm lost" Jim Hostler offense, the Mike Martz variation of the Coryell offense and now Raye's digital version of "Air Coryell.". While we're at it, Smith should go ahead and learn the run and shoot and triple option just for fun.
The revolving door at offensive coordinator is not exactly a recipe for offensive success, but there is already talk about Smith playing extremely well in recent practices and if the quarterback position is this season, the running game will flourish.
Running back Frank Gore's brash prediction for a 2,000 yard season a few years ago did not come into fruition, but he could get close to that number if San Francisco utilizes the power run this season. Rookie Glen Coffee's production, and ability to complement Gore will be the deciding factor if there are viable options in the passing game.
Once a liability, the wide receiver corps is now a crowded bunch. Isaac Bruce's vast knowledge and veteran presence should complement former Texas Tech star Michael Crabtree, the steal of the 2009 draft. Look for Crabtree to potentially make an immediate impact at wide receiver as a rookie, a rarity in the NFL. Josh Morgan and Jason Hill are also rapidly improving as receivers.
Raye has not had a talent at tight end like he has in Vernon Davis. If Davis performs and draws double coverage, Bruce and Crabtree will thrive. However, Davis is still an underachiever that has not lived up to his draft hype but hopefully Raye will find ways to get him the ball and utilize his immense natural talent.
Chilo Rachal at No. 39 in last year's draft could also be a potential steal as he was touted to be a 1st round talent and played very well when he saw action in 2008. Standout offensive tackle Joe Staley, bruiser David Baas, and the speedy Rachal could anchor the offensive line for years to come. Veterans Eric Heitmann and newcomer Marvel Smith round out the rest of the offensive line that made a lot of progress as a unit last year. Previously, Larry Allen's retirement and Jonas Jennings' constant trips to the injury list adversely affected the offensive line.
Only time will tell, but if the offense clicks, expect nine to ten wins. Although, that prediction may be optimistic. The 49ers will be a tough team to beat this year if the offense can complement their speedy and aggressive defensive unit.
This one is a football no-brainer.
The team that dominates up front usually wins and the 49er;s offensive line is now a capable unit that has had time to gel as a unit despite losing often injured Jonas Jennings and adding former Pittsburgh Steeler Marvel Smith.
Vernon Davis simply hasn't produced. A former sixth pick overall should not be known for his blocking abilities but rather, for his receiving skills and overall game.
Glen Coffee is a downhill runner that is needed in a power run scheme. If Coffee and Gore become a decent one two punch combo, then the running game will be effective.
Frank Gore's talent will never be questioned, but his durability is still a concern.
Who knows how long Gore's surgically repaired knees will hold up and there is no indication yet that Glen Coffee is going to become the next Michael "The Burner" Turner who backed up LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego for a few years before signing with Atlanta.
Rookie wide receivers historically aren't very productive their first year, but Michael Crabtree is a special, once in a lifetime talent. Jerry Rice produced good numbers his rookie season and if Crabtree does the same, then the 49er's air attack will be potent.
Also, the transition from college life to the pros isn't always easy and Crabtree needs to distance himself from new influences that are available when a young man suddenly becomes a millionaire.
Moran Norris is one of the select few 49ers that is capable of using 200 lb. dumbbells during workouts. His strength has paid dividends for Frank Gore in the past and he must once again become Gore's bulldozer.
Isaac Bruce is a Super Bowl winning, veteran, wide receiver. When a third down needs to be converted, Bruce is the man to look to.
Although, no longer as fast as he was during his tenure as a member of the St. Louis Rams, Bruce is still an excellent possession receiver that can surprise with his quickness.
Josh Morgan, Jason Hill and Michael Crabtree are the receiving corps of the future for the 49ers.
Morgan and Hill are both speedy, athletic receivers with very good hands. Both players can also run after the catch and make defenders miss.
Whoever is behind center for 2009 needs to realize they do not have to win the game on their own because for the first time in years, the 49ers have a decent amount of offensive weaponry.
A mobile game manager will be ideal. Plus, both Hill and Smith are able to run with the football.
Head coach Mike Singletary has stated that Bill Walsh is one of his biggest influences in coaching.
Coach Walsh always preached to "beat the other man to the punch," a statement he learned as a boxer.
Singletary's pedigree as a Hall of Fame player, and current head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, will confirm him as the right man to carry on this Bill Walsh tradition by stressing football fundamentals.