The 2011-2012 San Francisco 49ers have been selected. The players have played and succeeded. Although briefly, the coaches have installed and coached. The trainers have rehabilitated the infamous Michael Crabtree, along with thankfully, just a few friends. The pink slips have been issued, the team has been decided, the season is at hand, and a healthy, brand new 49ers organization is preparing to take the field. The Jim Harbaugh era has begun.
After four learning experiences, believe me when I tell you we have yet to see how the 49ers will play. One thing Harbaugh is great at - not revealing anything and there is nobody outside of the 49ers organization who really understands the fury that Jim Harbaugh is about to unleash. I believe the playoffs this year are possible. The division is, as always, winnable. The talent for a great season is there.
The offensive line struggled this preseason with pass protection, but much of the blame rests with the TE’s, RB’s, and QB’s, as they have an equal role in a successful blocking scheme. Yet, if you look at the talent, they appear to have the ability to overcome these preseason problems. The other good news - the line put on a run blocking clinic, stacking a total of 590 yards or 147.5 per game - the third Highest in the NFL.
Defensively, the 49ers were great at stopping the rush last year but lacked on passing defense. This year, the defensive backfield looks to have a lot of promise with players like rookie standout Chris Culliver and veterans Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson, Madieu Williams, Shawntae Spencer and especially, Donte Whitner.
The additions of rookies Aldon Smith and Demarcus Dobbs could add pressure to opposing quarterbacks, which was an area they lacked in previous years. The linebackers look pretty fierce with the best in the League- Patrick Willis and Takeo Spike's young replacement Navarro Bowman, who won't skip a beat. But probably, more importantly, the defensive play calling from new defensive coordinator- Vic Fangio, will be the biggest difference for the 49ers on D.
Frank Gore is back with a three year extension, essentially sealing his fate as a lifetime 49er -something all of us should be grateful for. While the elusive rookie Kendall Hunter and second year behemoth Anthony Dixon battle it out behind him.
The tight end wide receiver depth chart is ridiculous as well: Vernon Davis, Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree, Joshua Morgan, Ted Ginn, Delanie Walker, and Kyle Williams together, this is the most talented group in the NFC west, by far.
So, as always In the NFL, when all the other pieces are in place- as they seem to be in San Francisco- it all comes down to the play at one position - quarterback. This year the position of quarterback belongs to Alex Smith.
I am not going to give you all the reasons why he may fail miserably. I am not going to make up reasons why he will succeed greatly, there is no longer a need for either. The competition is over, the speculation can end. Smith has earned the starting spot and now it is time for him to play.
I believe the 49ers have the talent to make the playoffs. The coaches are there. The defensive backs, the line backers, the lineman, the running backs, the wide receivers and tight ends, they are all there. So to use Jim Harbaugh’s words out of context, Alex now has, “a perfect competitive opportunity." The question is, what will he do with it?
The Answer- your 2011-2012 season.
Thank you for reading. Please join me on Twitter @ryanthebroker.