The 49ers kickoff their 2009 training camp on July 24 and there are still many unanswered questions and unknowns. Here are some on the offensive side:
Hill or Smith?
The fact that we still have to ask this question is ridiculous. What more does Shaun Hill has to prove to earn the starting job? What has Alex Smith proved to still be in contention? Hill is a confident quarterback and he has shown he can win football games. He is 7-3 as a starter for the 49ers. As fearful as we think Mike Singletary is, I think he is trying to be nice to Smith by saying ‘oh, sure kid you have a shot, just go out there and give it everything you got.’ Singletary was around when former head coach Mike Nolan shattered Smith’s confidence, so I could why he would be giving Smith a shot to boost that confidence up. In the end Hill will be the starter.
How will Singletary do?
Singletary earned the head coaching job he now has which should have gone to him after the 2007 season. Instead last year we endured half a season of Nolan and J.T. Duh!Sullivan. Singletary’s run-oriented offense he wants to install should do well with Frank Gore poised for a career year. The players believe in him on the playing field and in the locker room. Singletary will be tested more now that he is starting his first full season and it will be interesting to see how he responds in the pressure situations. With his intensity and motivation the players respect and believe in it will transfer onto the playing field. Singletary knows the 49ers are ready to contend but the first step is just trying to finish a season at least 8-8.
How will Jimmy Raye do?
After the 49ers tried hiring the second former Rams coach in two years as offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan choose the Lions over the us, a long search ensued with Jimmy Raye as the last man standing. When he was announced as the new offensive coordinator I had no idea who he was. He has a track record leading offenses with 11 seasons of experience with the Rams, Buccaneers, Patriots, Chiefs, Redskins and Raiders. He has not had any spectacular seasons but he knows how to run the ball with five years of experience as a running backs coach. The tools are there to run a successful offense and the 49ers showed last year they can be productive. I just hope Raye stays for more than one season as coordinator.
What can we expect from Crabtree?
Number ten draft pick WR Michael Crabtree is at the end of recover from ankle surgery and will be ready for the start of training camp. The big question is can his ankle hold up although at his age there is no reason not to expect him to be 100%. A lot will be placed on his shoulders as expectations will be high with Scot McCloughan picking him with the 49ers first selection of the draft. Crabtree and Shaun Hill will be a good duo with Hill’s quick release and Crabtree’s ability to break tackles after catching the short route. I put my expectations for Crabtree at 50 receptions, 800 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Headed out of town and I will be back on Monday with new posts. Keep updated automatically through email on 49ers news at Niner Noise. Subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/NinerNoise