YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- San Francisco 49ers
This is year 3 under head coach Mike Singletary. Most prognosticators feel that the San Francisco 49ers will be the surprise team of the NFL this season and unseat the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. With all the pressure now being put on the squad, can they get the job done on the football field? The 49ers went 5-1 within the division last season, and the talent gap between the 49ers and Cardinals has certainly closed.
Alex Smith- 225/372 60.5% 2,350 yds 18 td 12 int 81.5 rat
Smith is in a contract year, so this is the season in which Smith shows the team whether or not he will be the quarterback of the future. The former 2005 1st overall pick finally looked healthy for the 1st time after fighting shoulder problems since 2007.
Smith is more comfortable in a shotgun formation, and the 49ers employed more of a spread set the final month of the season to accompany Smith’s skill set. He played in Urban Meyer’s spread formation in college at Utah. Last year, Smith did a better job with his mechanics. He is at his best improvising because of his unique athleticism.
Others- David Carr, Nate Davis
Carr is also a former overall number 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
Frank Gore- 229 car 4.9 avg 1,120 yds 10 td 52 rec 406 yds 3 td
Gore rushed for 1000+ yards for the 4th consecutive season, a franchise record. He’s a tough runner who doesn’t go down after initial contact. He also has good hands out of the backfield.
Brian Westbrook- 61 car 274 yds 4.5 avg 1 td 25 rec 181 yds 1 td
Westbrook signed as a free agent after spend 8 years in Philadelphia. As long as he can avoid concussions, Westbrook should be able to contribute.
Others- Anthony Dixon, Michael Robinson, Moran Norris
Dixon is a bruising back taken in the 6th round from Mississippi State.
Robinson is an athlete who could see some snaps in the wildcat.
Michael Crabtree- 48 rec 625 yds 13.0 avg 2 td
Crabtree had the most receptions by a rookie in team history since Jerry Rice in 1985. And Crabtree missed the 1st 5 games. He attacks the ball with long arms and sure hands.
Josh Morgan- 52 rec 527 yds 10.1 avg 3 td
Morgan played better at the latter part of last season. He’s big, physical and good after the catch. He’s also an effective blocker downfield.
Ted Ginn Jr.- 38 rec 454 yds 11.9 avg 1 td
Ginn is a speedster who will provide a down the field threat. He drops to many passes though.
TE- Vernon Davis- 78 rec 965 yds 12.4 avg 13 td
Davis’ 13 receiving touchdowns tied a NFL tight end record. He is a freak athletically. He runs a 4.4 40 yard dash.
Others- Jason Hill, Brandon Jones, Delanie Walker
Walker is a backup tight end who creates mismatches with his speed.
Hill and Jones will fight for playing time.
LT- Joe Staley
Staley is athletic and has good footwork. He missed 7 games last season due to knee injury.
LG- Mike Iupati
Iupati was the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft. He is a physical mammoth and considered the best guard in the draft.
C- Eric Heitman
Heitman is the veteran of the line and the leader. He is technically sound.
RG- Chilo Rachal
Rachal struggled early, but got better as the season went along.
RT- Anthony Davis
Davis was the 1st of 2 offensive lineman taken in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. He is long armed and powerful
LDE- Isaac Sopoaga- 29 tck 1 sck 1 p def
Sopoaga is one of the strongest defensive lineman in the NFL.
NT- Aubrayo Franklin- 36 tck 2 sck 1 int 3 p def
Franklin has emerged as one of the better nose tackles in football. He plays with a low center of gravity and takes on double teams well. He lets the linebackers roam free.
RDE- Justin Smith- 55 tck 6 sck 1 p def
In the past 9 years, no defensive lineman has accumulated more tackles than Smith. Smith is a is a relentless pursuer with great upper body strength. He comes off his best season as a pro.
Others- Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean-Francois
McDonald has a good 1st step and excels as a bullrusher.
Jean-Francois needs to improve his footwork.
LOLB- Manny Lawson- 68 tck 6.5 sck 2 p def
Lawson is best on the edge stuffing the run. His pass rushing skills have significantly improved since his rookie season in 2006.
LILB- Takeo Spikes- 75 tck 4 sck 1 p def
Spikes is still an adequate player, but he’s a 49er more to tutor along Patrick Willis.
RILB- Patrick Willis- 152 tck 4 sck 3 int 8 p def 3 ff
Willis is the best linebacker in the NFL. He’s led the NFL in tackles in 2 of his 1st 3 seasons. He’s made the Pro-Bowl in all 3 years. His sideline to sideline speed is the best in the game. His run stuffing and pass coverage is equally impressive. He plays with so much intensity as he is constantly around the football. Willis is the best playmaker at the linebacker position.
ROLB- Parys Haralson- 45 tck 5 sck 2 p def
Haralson, like Lawson is a good run stuffer on the edge. He plays with energy and toughness, but has short arms and plays a bit slow.
Others- Ahmad Brooks, Navorro Bowman
Brooks is Mike Singletary’s project. He’s moved from the inside to the outside. Brooks has potential to become the best pass rusher on the team. He had 6 sacks last season.
Bowman is a 3rd round pick from Penn State.
LCB- Nate Clements- 35 tck 1 int 7 p def
Clements has lost a stop over recent years, but still remains one of the best tackling corners in the NFL. He comes back after fracturing his right shoulder blade.
RCB- Shawntae Spencer- 53 tck 2 int 10 p def
Spencer is a big corner who’s physical and plays with good technique. He arguably had his best season as a pro last year.
CB- Tarell Brown- 40 tck 2 int 8 p def
Brown is a speedster who will compete with Karl Paymah for the starting nickel spot.
FS- Dashon Goldson- 94 tck 4 int 6 p def 2 sck
Goldson improved as the season went along, and at season’s end he became one of the more underrated safeties in the league. He plays with excellent range, and can lay the lumber.
SS- Michael Lewis- 82 tck 1 int 2 p def 1 sck 2 ff
Lewis is a consistent solid run stuffer. He struggles in coverage.
Others- Taylor Mays, Karl Paymah
Mays fell all the way to the 49th overall pick after being touted as being a top 10 pick a year ago. Mays is as big as a linebacker and as fast as a corner.
Paymah will compete with Brown for the nickel corner.
PK- Joe Nedney- 17/21 51 lg
Nedney is a longtime 49er who remains consistent.
P- Andy Lee- 99 punts 47.6 avg 30 in 20
Lee led the NFL in punt average
KR- Ted Ginn Jr.- 52 ret 24.9 avg 2 td 101 lg
Ginn is explosive as a return man.
PR- Ted Ginn Jr.- 5 ret 5.6 avg 12 lg
See above, but Ginn doesn’t return as many punts.
2010 PREDICTION- 8-8
This 49ers team reminds me of the Arizona Cardinals the year before they went to the Super Bowl. In the 2007 season, the Cardinals were the popular sleeper pick to win the West just like San Francisco this season. The following year, of course the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl, but they weren’t as popular as a sleeper pick. If San Francisco wins the NFC West, I think it’ll be next year. I guess it’s a gut thing, I just don’t feel that they are ready to take the leap yet.
Offensive MVP- Frank Gore
Defensive MVP- Patrick Willis
Breakthrough- Michael Crabtree
Overrated- Nate Clements
Underrated- Aubrayo Franklin