Niners FC Pat Goulding says:
"The San Francisco 49ers enter 2010 with high hopes, but realization of those hopes depends on the fulfillment of so far largely unproven potential across the roster.
Players like Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree have shown enough potential to prove that they have the ability to become serious weapons for the 49ers, but lack the NFL track record to lend confidence that they could realize that potential in 2010.
With the defense being much more of a proven entity than the offense, ultimate success will depend on how well the offense can produce and help the team control games.
Smith, Davis, and Crabtree will be keys in this regard, but not the most critical elements. That honor falls to the offensive line.
Without sufficient protection and blocking, Smith, Davis, Crabtree, and even multiple-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore will be severely hampered in their efforts.
The 49ers invested heavily in fortifying an offensive line which showed definite lack of depth last season, drafting two linemen in the first round—both of whom have already ascended to the starting role.
Still health, cohesion, and execution are concerns.
Center Eric Heitmann and tackle Joe Staley have already shown susceptibility to injury, and while David Baas has stepped in admirably at center, the 49ers are already guaranteed to face a transition when Heitmann returns early in the regular season.
Their ability to adjust, coupled with the long-term durability of the other starters and communication among the entire unit, will be key factors in determining how far the 49ers can go this season.
In preseason action, the line has shown a few kinks trying to pick up blitzes and both rookies have had their share of execution penalties. This will improve with time, but the question is how fast can it get to the point the 49ers need it to be to compete, and how long can it stay that way."