The San Francisco 49ers looked like they were plummeting to a top five pick in the draft. Once again the main problem was quarterback as J.T. O’Sullivan did not cut it and Alex Smith is as close to officially a bust as one can be.
Then, the 49ers made a move with the Head Coach making Mike Singletary which brought about a whole new attitude and quarterback Shaun Hill. This new coach/quarterback duo helped the 49ers win five out of their last eight games finishing with a 7-9 record.
The best thing that happened to this team was Mike Singletary. He is now the official Head Coach and brings along a much needed attitude. He has the energy, the aggressiveness, and the balls for the job and no member of the team will dispute that.
He dealt with some issues last season like tight end Vernon Davis’ lack of effort, but hearing some of Davis’ interviews it seems he received a much needed attitude adjustment.
Running back Frank Gore has been a monster since becoming the starter for the 49ers. He has speed, a little power, and he is staying healthy for the most part. The guy has proven before that he can be an elite back as a couple years ago he ran for almost 1,700 yards. He is one of many weapons the 49ers offense will possess this season.
The receiving core could be very surprising this season. Isaac Bruce became a very consistent target and was the No. 1 receiver last season. His experience plus the immense talent the tenth overall pick Michael Crabtree has means two passing threats that can move the chains and go deep.
The only chink in the armor is right now Crabtree refuses to sign with the team until he gets “fair market value” so there will be drama for the 49ers before the season even begins.
I expect tight end Vernon Davis to really step out of his ego and play like the dominant tight end many know he can be. This is the guy that is 6’3, 250, and ran a 4.3 40yard dash at the combine. He has all the tools of an elite tight end and his new attitude could be what he needs to fully use those tools.
The offensive line did a nice job last season. Joe Staley eventually became at home in his new position at left tackle, which is the most important position on the line. Also, center Eric Heitman has been a standout on the field, but no one has given him the recognition.
This year will be his time to make his case as one of the better centers in the NFL as the 49ers are the team to watch to contend for the NFC West title against the Cardinals. The line will be key to how competitive the 49ers really will be.
The quarterback situation was ugly last season. This season things will be run a little different under Singletary and the quarterback battle between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill will be intense, but it will produce a stable quarterback.
Cycling through quarterbacks every few weeks hurts an offense and eventually a team because offense is all about rhythm and when the center has to keep snapping the ball a different way or the timing with the receivers is off then all sorts of problems turn up. This year there will be one quarterback and one flow.
The defense was bad the first half of the season. It gave up 30 points or more seven out of the first nine games. In the second half, though, the 49ers only gave up more than 20 points twice.
The defense is led by the tackling machine known as Patrick Willis and strong line pressure led by Justin Smith along with a solid secondary led by Michael Lewis will keep up the low scoring. No one realizes what this defense can do and an entire year like those last seven games will open the eyes to its verbosity.
The team itself is ugly. It has the talent, the facilities, and the coaching to take over the weakest division in football, but they have to want it. They have to play at full speed and not play half-hearted because a team that gives it its all can do the unbelievable like the Cardinals did last season by reaching the Super Bowl.
Frank Gore is a No. 1 back in any league. He was good last season on a dysfunctional team, but now he’ll have a quarterback that can make things happen (Shaun Hill if he wins) so the defense cannot stuff the box anymore.
Vernon Davis is a No. 2 tight end until he shows those dominant skills that made him the fifth overall pick in 2006.
Michael Crabtree has explosive talent, but he is border-line cocky. He should be monitored until he signs and if he does then he could put up surprising numbers.
The sleeper is Isaac Bruce. I know he is the No. 1, but many say he is too old. I say nonsense and Bruce could be a No. 2 or high-end No. 3 receiver. If Crabtree doesn’t sign then he’ll be the main target for whoever the quarterback turns out to be.