Written by: Matthew Blunk
Jim Harbaugh did a masterful job coaching the 49ers (and mildly offending Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz) last season and deserved his Coach of the Year recognition. He took a roster of players that won only six games in 2010 and turned them into a team. The 49ers became the ultimate blue-collar team, playing a "smash mouth" brand of football, with a strong ground game and stifling defense. Harbaugh transformed the team, and got an above average season out of quarterback Alex Smith.
But like any team in the NFL, San Francisco has holes on its roster. They won't sneak up on anyone anymore. Opposing teams will be prepared for what the they do. But if they can shore up their needs, the 49ers could win the NFC West again with ease. Don't you dare doubt Harbaugh.
While it's practically a foregone conclusion that Smith will return and quarterback the Niners in 2012, the fact remains that he is free to sign anywhere. Trent Baalke arguably reached hard on Colin Kaepernick in last year's draft, but the jury is definitely still out on him. Harbaugh molding Kaepernick into an NFL quarterback is not inconceivable. But look for Smith to re-sign and be the guy. That doesn't mean San Fran can't upgrade the position, though. Is the number 18 free?
Michael Crabtree is about all the 49ers have at wide receiver right now. Kyle Williams showed promise (when he wasn't fumbling on crucial punt returns) last season, but he won't be ready to enter the starting lineup anytime soon. The team let go of Braylon Edwards even before the end of the regular season. For a team that with very minimal depth at the receiver position to cut one loose like that says a lot about Edwards. The Niners could use a guy with speed and playmaking ability. Or they could re-sign Josh Morgan and hope for the best.
Depth at corner isn't as much a concern as top-end talent for the Niners. Chris Culliver had a solid rookie year, and Tarell Brown is a capable player. But Shawntae Spencer was for some reason ostracized from the team, and could get traded or released. If San Francisco does not re-sign unrestricted free agent Carlos Rogers (their no. 1 cornerback in 2011), another starter will have to be brought in. Culliver could very well develop into a starter, but Brown is much better suited as a nickel back. But Rogers played a critical role in the dominant 49ers defense last season, so his return is likely.
This year’s National Football League draft gets underway on Thursday night (4/25) in New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall. The ceremony will begin at 8ET and be televised on ESPN. One can only wonder what the wild and crazy Jets fans will have to cheer (or jeer) about now that the N.Y. …
The 78th edition of the National Football League draft will begin on Thursday night, April 25th at 8pm ET. The official description of this event is The NFL Player Selection Meeting. This gathering will take place at the famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City. …
By Melissa Harder
Next week will mark a big moment in the ongoing concussion class action lawsuit brought by over 4,000 former players against the National Football League (NFL). Lawyers for the former players will argue the matter belongs in federal court while the NFL will push for the claim to be heard in arbitration. …