The San Francisco 49ers were expected to be the runaway favorites for the NFC West crown, but they struggled severely last season. Mike Singletary was fired, and now Jim Harbaugh is in charge of taking over this once proud franchise. Finding a franchise quarterback should be priority number one this offseason.
The Alex Smith experiment is most likely over, as it is time for the 49ers to give up on him and look for a new franchise signal caller. Troy Smith is an adequate starter, but the 49ers really need to find a better long-term option.
Frank Gore is a Pro Bowl running back when he is healthy, but he has struggled with his health throughout his career. The 49ers don’t have much depth behind him, and they have some concerns with the depth that they do have.
Michael Crabtree is still looked at as the No. 1 receiver despite his struggles last season. Josh Morgan is a solid player, but I think the 49ers can find a better player to start across from Crabtree. Vernon Davis is a Pro Bowl tight end who is the best weapon for the 49ers in the passing game.
The offensive line is young, but it is very talented. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati were drafted last season, and they performed well while starting all 16 games. Joe Staley is a very good left tackle, and David Baas and Chilo Rachal are pretty solid players at center and guard as well. The depth of the offensive line is a concern, but they can find some solid linemen later in the draft to give them some good depth.
The defensive line is a solid unit overall, but it could have some questions next season. Justin Smith is solid at one end spot, but the 49ers may want to look for an upgrade on the other side, where Isaac Sopoaga is the current starter. Aubrayo Franklin is a great nose tackle, but he is a free agent who may be too expensive for the 49ers to keep. The defensive line depth isn’t really there, so some upgrades are needed behind the starters.
The 49ers lack a pass-rushing threat at outside linebacker, which seriously hurts the overall effectiveness of the defense. Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson just aren’t getting it done, so this position could be a high priority in next week’s draft. Patrick Willis is the best linebacker in the league in my opinion, and Takeo Spikes is a solid veteran who gives the 49ers a great tandem at inside linebacker.
Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer are decent players, but they can struggle in coverage at times, so the 49ers can look for another starting cornerback in the upcoming draft. Dashon Goldson is a solid free safety, but he is a free agent and could be elsewhere in 2011. Taylor Mays began the season with the starting safety spot, but he struggled down the stretch and lost the job. He is still looked at as the long-term option heading into 2011.