Wednesday, August 19, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- San Francisco 49ers
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
2008 RECORD: 7-9
(2nd in NFC West)
HEAD COACH: Mike Singletary
Key Additions: WR Brandon Jones (FA/Titans) QB Damon Huard (FA/Chiefs) RB Moran Norris (FA/Lions) OL Marvel Smith (FA/Steelers) LB Marques Harris (FA/Chargers) CB Dre' Bly (FA/Broncos)
Key Losses: LB Tully Banta-Cain (FA/Patriots) TE Bill Bajema (FA/Rams) QB J.T. O' Sullivan (FA/Bengals) WR Bryant Johnson (FA/Lions) RB DeShaun Foster (FA)
Offense: After going back and forth between two different quarterbacks last season, the 49ers settled with Shaun Hill and let J.T. O' Sullivan go through free agency.
Hill provided some stability and displayed confidence in his chance as QB when the 49ers finished strong by going 5-2 down the stretch. Hill threw for 2,046 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The back up quarterbacks are Alex Smith and Damon Huard.
Frank Gore, who has been an offensive juggernaut for San Francisco early in his career, is the top running back. Michael Robinson is the back up halfback/fullback. Moran Norris is the fullback. Rookie draft pick Glen Coffee (from Alabama) will also get his chance to play.
Gore rushed for 1,036 yards last season and scored six touchdowns while also catching 43 passes for 373 yards and two TDs.
Isaac Bruce, a 15-year veteran, is back at wide receiver and top draft choice Michael Crabtree (a holdout as pre-season began) is slated to be the other starting wide receiver. The Tight End is Vernon Davis, who contributed with 31 catches for 358 yards and two scores.
Bruce caught 61 passes to lead the team in '08 and had 835 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Arnaz Battle (24 catches for 318 yards), Josh Morgan (20 catches, 319 yards and three TDs) and newcomer Brandon Jones, who made 41 catches for 449 yards and one TD with Tennessee, are the other wide receivers in the fold.
The offensive line was simply awful at pass protection in 2008, allowing 55 quarterback sacks.
The center is Eric Heitmann. The guards are David Bass and Chilo Rachal and the tackles are Joe Staley and Marvel Smith, a free agent from Pittsburgh.
Defense: San Francisco's defense seemed to pick it up a notch last year after Head Coach Mike Singletary took over for Mike Nolan, who was fired seven games into the season.
The 49ers ranked 13th in the NFL in total defense (326 yards per game allowed) and also 13th in rushing. The pass defense was 20th in the league and intercepted only 12 passes while accumulating 30 sacks.
The defensive front will have Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle and Ray McDonald and Justin Smith (seven QB sacks) at the end spots.
The linebackers in San Francisco's 3-4 defense will be Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson on the outside. Haralson led the 49ers with eight sacks in '08. The inside linebackers are Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis.
Dre' Bly was signed away from Denver in the off-season and will start at cornerback while Nate Clements will be other cornerback. The safeties are Michael Lewis (strong safety) and Dashon Goldson.
OUTLOOK: After finishing the 2008 season on a 5-2 run down the stretch, the 49ers feel confident as the new season approaches.
Quarterback Shaun Hill clearly made a difference as the primary signal caller for the team once he was handed the playbook.
With Hill back again and Gore leading the way in the backfield, San Francisco should be decent on offense. The team needs to get Crabtree in the fold on offense. Along with veteran Isaac Bruce, this could be a good wide receiver tandem.
Better pass protection in 2009 is a must!
The defense is respectable and should continue to improve under Singletary and his coaching staff.
The key will be how the team starts in '09. After getting off to a 2-7 start last season, the 49ers were buried in the NFC West. A good start is pertinent to success in '09.
San Francisco may just well finish the same way as last year when they were 7-9 and second place in the NFC West. That is a more likely finish for the 49ers in 2009 than a division title.
Week 1- at Arizona (Sept. 13)
Week 2- vs. Seattle (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at Minnesota (Sept. 27)
Week 4- vs. St. Louis (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Atlanta (Oct. 11)
Week 6- BYE WEEK
Week 7- at Houston (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at Indianapolis (Nov. 1)
Week 9- vs. Tennessee (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Chicago (Nov. 12)
Week 11- at Green Bay (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Jacksonville (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Seattle (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. Arizona (Dec. 14)
Week 15- at Philadelphia (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Detroit (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at St. Louis (Jan. 3)