Inheriting a team with some talent but no direction, Singletary has re-established pride in the organization. He has provided vision and preached toughness.
Singletary is a "meat-and-potatoes" man when it comes to football. He's seen it work when he played for the Chicago Bears.
If the Bears at that time had a better offensive line, he probably would have more than one Super Bowl ring as a player.
Lesson learned. Starting his second full season on the job, he has added players through the draft and from the free market pool that show a solid plan.
OT Anthony Davis and OG/OT Mike Iupati upgrade an offensive line in dire need. With some coaching, Davis could be a star protecting the QB blind-side for years to come, and Iupati is good enough to shift over to end if need be.
Lining up alongside Joe Staley, these additions give the line flexibility and an upgrade in talent that will help both QB Alex Smith and RB Frank Gore tremendously.
Alex Smith, David Carr, Nate Davis, Jarrett Brown*
Contrary to many skeptics, I believe in the efficacy of Alex Smith being the starter for the 49ers. Healthy, having survived the multiplicity of pressures inherent in the position, and finally having a cohesive offensive plan and coaching staff, Smith should rise to the occasion.
Nate Davis looked great in the pre-season last year, exhibiting leadership qualities under pressure, and running the limited offense effectively.
Though not having the prototype of height for a full-time signal caller, Drew Brees and Steve Young are proof that if you have the talent, height is not so much an issue.
Of all the off-season moves, the only one that I scratched my head over was the acquisition of David Carr. He's not a bad quarterback, I just don't believe that he's better than who they have.
If Alex Smith were to go down to injury, developing the youngsters on the staff would be a better option, especially with the offensive line upgraded and a solid running game.
The best post-draft move the team made was to sign the un-drafted Jarrett Brown. A smart player with an incredible skill set, it is a wonder why he wasn't drafted.
Jarrett has a cannon of an arm, one of the strongest in the last few drafts, with great spin and touch.
Locked behind Pat White on the depth chart, he only had one year as a starter, and that was affected by an injury that marred an incredible start.
Often compared to Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson and Jacksonville's David Garrard, he is potentially better than either. He has a stronger arm, is faster and more mobile in the pocket, and possesses more accuracy.
A better comparison is a young Donovan McNabb, or dare I say with solid coaching and a few years, another version of Steve Young?
Mike Singletary has a plan...
Frank Gore, Glenn Coffee, Anthony Dixon, Michael Robinson
After a number of seasons with spotty offensive-line play, Frank Gore finally is running behind a line. Add the emergence of wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and improved play from Alex Smith to the mix, and Gore should have a bevy of opportunities to shine this year.
That said, teams will continue to key their defenses on stopping the running game until Alex Smith makes them pay for it.
Glenn Coffee has been a good secondary back, and the drafting of Anthony Dixon should keep Gore healthy throughout the season. Dixon is a straight forward, run-over-the-defender running back. Think Christian Okoye.
The Niners don't have a run-by-committee approach, but interspersing Coffee and Dixon throughout the game will make Gore better, and the overall running game a serious threat for opposing defenses.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., Bakari Grant, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones, Scott Long, Jared Perry, Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler; (TE) Vernon Davis, Nate Byham, Joe Jon Finley, Tony Curtis
Coming off an injury and a protracted contract dispute, Michael Crabtree played beyond what the 49ers could hope for. The talented receiver runs routes well, displays speed and the ability to create separation from his defender, and has hands covered in super glue.
He established himself as a premier threat last season, and is poised to do great things in his second year.
Josh Morgan has the talent of a No. 1 receiver, but has shown the mentality of a No. 2. So be it.
With Crabtree taking the honors, Morgan should have a solid season and will break a number of long touchdown receptions, keeping teams honest on the line.
Responding to the challenge issued to him by Singletary, Vernon Davis is playing up to the expectations with which he entered the league.
With speed, agility, and hands like a wide receiver, his ability to separate and find open space makes him a escape option for the quarterback, but also frees up underneath routes as Davis can stretch the defense himself.
With San Francisco owning some one of the worst punt and kick return numbers in the league, the addition of Ted Ginn Jr. will pay immediate dividends.
A disappointment in Miami, Ted should do well in the lineup as a receiver also. With the attention Crabtree, Morgan, and Davis attract, Ginn could be an effective weapon in the slot.
If Alex Smith can play anywhere near his first round billing so many drafts back, he has the weapons on offense to thrive.
Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin
Smith, Sopoaga, and Franklin all had decent years in 2009. With nine sacks between them, they held to the point and occupied space allowing the linebacker corps to attack the offense.
Justin Smith's game improved spending the season on the right end. Expect the line to be even better in 2010.
Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes, Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Navorro Bowman (R)
Blessed to be coached and mentored by Hall of Fame MLB Mike Singletary, his game has exploded. His leadership and energy fuels the defense, and as long as he is healthy, he will change games by himself.
Manny Lawson has come into his own with 6.5 sacks and a recovered fumble, and playing alongside veteran Takeo Spikes, they form a great left side combination.
The 49ers signed two undrafted linebackers this year also, Mike Balogun and Keaton Kristick. An obvious help to special teams, one may find there way into the defensive lineup eventually.
Nate Clements, Taylor Mays, Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, Tarell Brown, William James, Chris Maragos, Reggie Smith, Keith Smith, Shawntae Spencer, LeRoy Van
Nate Clements is the teams No. 1 corner. If he returns healthy this year, it will help the defense.
Taylor Mays is the hitter the Niners haven't had Ronnie Lott. A terror over the middle, the team got tougher with just one pick. Mays isn't the greatest cover corner, but his aggressive attitude is just what Singletary wants on his team.
In a relatively weak division, the 49ers will make some noise. Good enough to make it to the playoffs, their defense still has some holes to fill before they go further.
That said, they are another draft away from winning consistently, and if the quarterback play becomes solid, they could be a dynasty in the making.
49er fans have much to look forward to.
Alex Smith will do well over the next two years and have a long career in the NFL, but will be supplanted Jarrett Brown as the 49er quarterback by 2013.
Patrick Willis will be the most dominant linebacker in the league this season.
The 49er offense will be impressive this season, averaging over 24 points a game.
In the 2011 draft, the 49ers will select either a linebacker or corner with their first pick, or will acquire a shutdown corner or linebacker via trade or free agency.
The 49ers will win a Super Bowl within the next three seasons.
The team believes in the new Dynasty enough to push for a new stadium. The investment in the community will be reflected in the investment in the team. The mandate to win is now.
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