When the lockout started I wrote an article stating how lucky the 49ers were to have the lockout. This was because it would give Jim Harbaugh and company time to adjust, not to mention if his first season was a losing record fans would surly blame it on the lockout and not Harbaugh. Of course I made the assumptions thinking that the 49ers would surly hold onto the quality players that would be in free agency, and assuming they would at least pick a player or two up in free agency.
It has been tough to watch the 49ers lose players like David Bass, Takeo Spikes, Manny Lawson, Nate Clements, Joe Nedney and Aubrayo Franklyn. All the while the 49ers add the modest talent of David Akers, Madieu Williams, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. I could not help but feel the possibility that this could be a lucky conspiracy, or pure genius.
A lucky conspiracy in the fact that if the 49ers managed to play so poorly they would end up with the number one pick in the next draft, or close enough to it, that Jim Harbaugh would be united with Andrew Luck at the expense of the team, fans, and the 2011 season. Of course the 49ers could end up in that situation regardless of if Harbaugh and GM Trent Balke were trying to sabotage the season, converting the circumstances into a truly lucky conspiracy.
However, Jim Harbaugh could possibly be showing off his pure genius. By playing the free agency cautiously, he and Balke control the salary cap, placing them well in control to address needs and future needs. Also by letting go of some players like Nate Clements and Manny Lawson, which neither truly panned out to the expectations of their salaries, they let go of baggage weighing down the team. Also he is giving younger players more of a chance to break out. It is possible that Jim and company have utilized the lockout time to deeply study the films, and sees some real talent that had been buried under high profile players.
Regardless of whether this is a lucky conspiracy or pure genius; everything will be laid out as the season starts. Though I will still blame a poor season more on the lockout, I seriously doubt the fans will give very much room for forgiveness if the 49ers show up in embarrassing fashion. However it will hardly spell doom for Harbaugh if this first season flops. If the fans have learned anything, they have learned that they finally have a bonafide head coach to work with.