Last week I posted who the identity and future leaders of the 49ers will and need to be in order for team to bring home ring number six. Here are my picks for defense:
Glory Years: Bryant Young
Future: Kentwan Balmer. The 29th overall pick in this year’s draft is fast off the line of scrimmage, athletic and very good at deflecting passes. Although he had an outstanding senior season as a Tar Heel, he had 59 tackles, this matched his production from his three previous years. It is doubtful he will be a starter this year but he will get enough playing time to allow him to develop into the future identity of the D-line.
Glory Years: Charles Haley
Future: Patrick Willis. The NFC’s 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year as already supplanted himself as the leader of the line backing corps, defense, and soon he will be the identity of the 49ers. Willis’ dedication, determination, and freakish talking ability will catch fire with the other young LB’s on the team. He is an emerging leader who sets great examples like his 18 tackles and ½ sack game in the 49ers’ 37 – 31 win over the Arizona Cardinal last year. In that game Willis made a memorable tackle that defined his first season as a pro and gave the rest of the league a glimpse of what the rest of his career will be like when he ran down receiver Sean Morey on a 62-yard reception in overtime, preventing a touchdown for the Cardinals that lead to a victory for the Niners. Willis will be the new Ronnie Lot on this team and he will traumatize offenses for many years to come.
Glory Years: Ronnie Lott
Future: Nate Clements. Although 28 years old and on his second team of his career, Clements will most likely go down as the best free agent signing in 49er history. Yes, he has only played one season in Red and Gold but he is the anchor and identity of the secondary and is ever deserving of his record eight years, $80 million contract he signed last year. In his seventh year as a pro, Clements posted his second highest totals for season in his career with 92 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 77 solo tackles. Along with Walt Harris Clements will nurture a young and up-incoming secondary into defensive playmakers and pro-bowlers.
Tell me what you think about my picks for the future identity on offense and defense. Did I overlook someone? Does anyone else deserve to be called the identity of the glory years at their respective position?