49ers Offense Looks to Improve Dramatically from the Past Decade, or so.
When the San Francisco 49ers decided to bring on Jim Harbaugh, the decision was not only good for the organization, but there was more than meets the eye as well.
Harbaugh is an offensive genius in his own right (at least at the college level), but the train does not stop there.
He is bringing in several very talented assistant coaches to aid in the process of reviving a franchise that has been drowning for way too long now.
As most people know, offensive coordinator Greg Roman was Jim Harbaugh's offensive coordinator at Stanford. Stanford's successful offense is definitely something to consider as he makes his way in to the NFL.
Roman's offense will feature a lot of motions. Motions are created for the sole purpose of trying to get the defense to show their hand, and in a lot of instances, it will create big time mismatches. We all know that there are already a few players on offense that create mismatches just by being on the field.
Although it is relatively early, taking a look at preseason rankings is always fun. This article will highlight who, in my opinion, are the best players on offense No.1-11.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's addition of the defensive rankings No. 1-11 in this two-part Preseason Player Ranking Edition.
Many may see Davis a bit higher ranked than here due to his progress toward the end of last season, when he was one of the most penalized offensive rookies in the NFL.
He became an asset in the run game toward the end of the year but his pass protection was very spotty. The consistency was just not there, but as is the case with a lot of rookies. As long as a rookie is showing progress, there is hope, and there is hope for Davis.
His largest obstacle is focusing on getting stronger with his lateral movement. In a lot of instances last year, he would go wide on a stronger speed rusher and get tagged to the outside leaving the inside vulnerable and putting pressure on the quarterback.
I fully expect him to be a solid asset in paving the road in the run game though. He made strides last season and the momentum should carry in to this year barring injury (knock on wood)...and if he can stay onside and not jump so much. "Patience" young Davis, "Patience".
So the long-short of things for Davis is that he will be solid in the ground attack and needs to make major strides in pass protection. Out of all the 49ers on offense, Davis has the most to prove in 2011.
Okay, I lied...so technically there are 12 players.
But keep in mind that between Rachal and Snyder, the 49ers have one complete right guard.
That said, this could wind up being the biggest battle for the starting position in camp and preseason. Rachal has shown flashes in certain games of having that 'special' talent. Snyder on the other hand struggled on the outside but has shown he can be a valuable asset on the inside.
Both have much to prove in a short amount of time. But rest assured that once the starter is named, he will be "the guy".
Expect to see a lot more consistency from this coaching staff in terms of not changing their mind like someone with a bad case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Consistency along the offensive line goes a long way. Playing as a unit along the front will help the 49ers on the road to the playoffs in 2011.
Fans across the board will be rooting for the best man to get the job from these two players.
If it's not "coming down like a punt coach", then Josh Morgan has solid hands for the most part. Of course this goes with a grain of salt. In certain games, Josh Morgan just does not show up mentally.
He is not the most speedy receiver but he can make plays outside of the hash marks.
His value this season will be based a lot on how well the younger guys (specifically Kyle Williams and Ronald Johnson) do this year. This will be something to keep in mind moving forward. Both have better skill-sets than Morgan.
So it will boil down to skill versus experience in the battle here.
Still, Morgan has done well enough in previous seasons to have earned this No. 9 spot in these rankings.
Preseason is always full of surprises and with both Crabtree and Edwards assuming the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, it will be interesting to see how Morgan responds to that.
Joe Staley is a man of many faces. Comedian, wrestling fan, host of the Joe Show, and left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers.
Left tackle, by many, is considered to be the most important position on the offensive line. Although, some would argue that the center position is more important, both can impact a game both negatively or positively more than the other positions.
Staley, will once again be the blind side protector for whoever lines up at quarterback this season. Most likely that person will be Alex Smith. Due to Smith's track record with injuries, Staley will have to be like a rock over there. Staley has faced his fair share of injuries over the past couple of seasons as well.
Drafted 28th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, the 49ers' starting tackle has yet to fulfill any kind of high expectations while not yet appearing in any Pro Bowls. He has been very serviceable though and done a relatively decent job at his position.
Joe will be a key piece if the 49ers want to get over the hump in a very weak division. Durability will be his largest obstacle to overcome in 2011. If he can remain healthy, the Niners will see a lot more success this year.
To bust, or not to bust...that is the question.
In many fans minds, Alex Smith is already and after thought and is chalked up to being a first-round bust.
The 49ers' front office and coaching staff still sees potential. Whether through looking at film or just generally feeling bad for the guy and the circumstances he has faced throughout his career, there is something there. Well, okay, maybe.
In any case, it seems that at the very least Smith will be a stop-gap while Harbaugh molds Colin Kaepernick to be more lethal than a SKUD missile. Even so, Alex Smith could surprise a lot of folks and come back in 2012 to be the starter once again.
Alex is just below the middle of the pack in the rankings because more than anyone on the team, he absolutely has the most to prove. He has shown flashes of being a very good quarterback at times, but it usually is in pressure situations that he crumbles like a brittle dirt clod.
If he does not pull it together this year, it will finally be safe to say that his career is as good as dust in the wind.
- 1x Pro Bowl Selection (2009)
- Superbowl Champion (XLIV)
- Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award
It's not going to get him in to the Hall of Fame but this center is a lot better than the average bear. His accomplishments represent his play in the past few years. He has worked very hard to get to the point he is at in his career.
Harbaugh has brought in a few Michigan men that will impact the offense significantly this season. Goodwin is obviously one of those guys. The 49ers went out to replace the loss of David Bass and Eric Heitmann, and have certainly came out on top from what looked to be at that time something that would strain the progress of the offensive line.
Goodwin is and will be the leader on the offensive line this year.
And with a name like Goodwin, he will play a major role in helping this team to some good wins.
What is he doing?
Michael Crabtree has never participated in a full offseason due to injuries and hold outs. That said, he has still been impressive here and there in the regular season.
One would have to assume at this point that his foot is going to be an issue for the duration of his career. While every fan certainly hopes not, it is looking that way at this point in time. We have seen it before and it won't be the last time. Although, there can be exceptions. Frank Gore came in to the league as a third-rounder due to injury and although it seems he's been banged up his entire career, he still will go down as one of the best running backs in franchise history.
So, there is still hope for Crabtree.
However, if he does not produce this season...and by that I mean really produce, then there will be a big split in the fanbase as to what his status is. As it stands, there have already been articles 'O' plenty in regards to him being labeled a bust.
Personally, I don't think he will ever in his career amount to anything less than at least a solid No. 2 receiver.
His career has just started and Mike Iupati had an extremely productive rookie season.
Were there mistakes here and there? Yeah, of course. But the upside with him was phenomenal. I believe that with enough time, work and stability at his side, Iupati has the potential to make, in the good words of Lebron James: Not one...Not two...Not three...Not four...Not fi—Okay, I will stop there...You get the point.
He is that good.
In any case, his pass protection can still use some fine tuning, but there may not be a better guard in the NFL this year by season's end if he can pull it all together.
Call it strange, call it what you will, but I always think of this guy when I think of Mike Iupati:
At least in terms of the run game.
I am very excited to see Iupati play, even if just in limited action during the preseason.
This could wind up being the best free agent pick up in the NFC West this year.
Braylon Edwards is now in a much, much warmer climate than his previous two teams. Not only that, but he is in an offense that will showcase all of his talents. The sky is the limit for Edwards in such a diverse offense.
In my opinion, I don't feel as though Braylon has even began to scratch the surface of what he is capable.
His route running is crisp and precise. He has decent speed for a wide receiver. He is tall and can jump with the best of them. He has big play ability. And the best thing about Braylon, is that last year, even though his hands were frozen half the time, he managed to hang on to passes much better than previous years.
49er fans across the world need to cross their fingers and hope that the east coast bias of Rodger Goodell does not affect his judgement and that Edwards will play in all 16 games. This is going to hurt the team a lot in the beginning stages if that course of action is taken against Braylon.
But, rest assured, he will be one of the most significant pieces to the 49ers' success this season when he steps out on to that field.
There is no question that once Frank Gore decides to hang up his cleats for good, he will go down as one of the best players to ever wear the red and gold uniform.
As much as I wanted to put him at No. 1, his career has been plagued with injury. He has only played one full season in his entire career. The injuries always seem to be leg related which could possibly stem from the injury he sustained while at the University of Miami.
Although the franchise has not seen much success in over a decade, Frank Gore has give all 49er fans a little piece of light each year.
He is now nearing the end of his career, or so it seems, so time is not going to be friendly to him. A sense of urgency to get that ring is probably on the forefront of Gore's mind. Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter should play a big part in keeping Gore healthy for the duration of the year as they will take some of the load off.
Anytime Gore touches the ball, he is a home run threat and can take it to the house.
He has looked very good in camp thus far from what has been reported, and he said he feels like he is 22-years-old again. Whether that is fluff for the media or truth will be determined very shortly.
I don't expect to see him get many touches in the preseason. I'd be surprised if he got more than 20 total touches in these four games coming up.
The 49ers certainly know they need Frank "The Tank" Gore to make it in to the dance. Without him, it will surely be tough.
If you didn't guess it by now, Vernon Davis is and will be the most valuable 49er on the field in 2011.
The offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, has confirmation of this as he has been spending an hour alone with Vernon every day of practice. We already know that Davis is a Pro Bowler, there's no question about that, but can you imagine him getting any better? I know, it's hard, right?
But I assume that he will get better because if he is "not getting better, he is getting worse", according to Jim Harbaugh.
Vernon Davis is a rare talent. This rare breed of talent only comes around once in a decade. He does everything and is probably the most well-rounded tight end in the game right now. He blocks well. He is extremely fast for a tight end. He is uncontested in athleticism at the position. He can jump. His awareness is off the charts. He plays the game with great intelligence, and his hands are like glue.
Some may argue that Antonio Gates from the Chargers is better. However, in putting them side-by-side, I personally cannot see Gates as better. Is he close? Maybe. But the point is that Vernon is the best it gets.
In watching the Hall of Fame ceremonies the other day, and in seeing Shannon Sharpe up there, I thought of Vernon Davis. I visualized him accepting his jacket and standing up there giving his speech. He still has a long road to make it to the Hall of Fame but it is certainly in sight. All he has to do is keep trudging forward.
In a lot of cases, it seems as though Superbowl rings come into consideration when making the nominations for players. So, is it possible that the 49ers see a ring in the next four or five years?
I don't know about you all but I sure hope as is the case.
I borrowed the concept from Jerry Springer so I hope we do not get sued for "Final Thoughts".
This will be a very interesting season. I expect to see a lot of ups and a lot of downs. That usually goes hand and hand with being a fan of any team for any sport in each new season. A happy fan will most often have many more ups than downs in any given season though. So hopefully the Niners can put something together solid in 2011.
Though optimism is flowing like Champagne's from the Heavens, 49ers fans have been tricked in to such hope before. The best policy moving forward is to have a bit of caution. It's great to have the feelings of hope but as history has told us before, we need to guard our hearts.
However, it is hard to fathom this team, with this much talent, getting any worse. Jim Harbaugh may be coming from the NCAA but he has played in the NFL and knows what it takes to not only win, but to fight through adversity. He was scrappy as a player and I have no doubts that he will bring that same competitive nature back in to the NFL as a head coach.
He too has a great supporting cast of coaches.
I do not have big expectations for the beginning of the year though. And if the 49ers surprise, then so be it. It would be a pleasant surprise.
As the slideshow implicates, the 49ers have a bundle of talent moving in to the season. We did not even look at the depth either. Depth is important in making a push in to the playoffs and the 49ers are looking good in that respect as well.
Players like Kyle Williams, Ronald Johnson could quite conceivably make impacts as well. There is a lot of young talent backing up the guys on the offensive line. The running backs, all three, can do some amazing things. And last but not least, the progress of Colin Kaepernick has a lot of people anxious to see the potential in the preseason
So with that, and in the grand tradition of the Jerry Springer show, "Take care of yourself, aaand each other".
Stay tuned for part 2 (the defense) tomorrow.