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.

Quarterbacks

 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.

(Alex Smith)

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.

GRADE- 7

 Running Backs

 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.

(Frank Gore)

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.

GRADE- 8

 Receivers

 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.

(Michael Crabtree)

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.

GRADE- 7.5

 Offensive Line

 LT- Joe Staley

Staley is athletic and has good footwork.  He missed 7 games last season due to knee injury.

 

(Joe Staley)

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

GRADE- 7.25

 Defensive Line

 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.

(Aubrayo Franklin)

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.

GRADE- 7.5

 Linebackers

 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.

willis_patrick.jpg Patrick Willis image by tmel07

(Patrick Willis)

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.

GRADE- 8.5

 Secondary

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.

(Dashon Goldson)

 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.

GRADE- 7

 Special Teams

 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.

GRADE- 7.25

 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

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