The question that many fans are asking themselves after free agency and before the NFL Draft, is has our team made the right moves to improve and if not what needs to be addressed in the draft? A question I have been asking myself frequently. During free agency I did not really care too much if the moves the San Francisco 49ers made were going to help the cause of potentially winning a Super Bowl. All I cared about was the Niners being active, which I believe is the feeling that many other fans have as well. It’s not so much about what moves your team has made, but how many; a dangerous way to think, especially if you’re the GM or the owner of a team. Here is an example of that mind set; Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins. For years now it has felt that the Redskins always win the offseason, but never any Super Bowls. Knowing that, it made me look closer to the Niners moves so far this off season and moves that are still needed to be made. Here is my evaluation of the Niners off season thus far.
As we all know the Niners had argueably the best defense last season. Truly the backbone of the team and it was made a priory to keep the defense intact for at least another year. Evident by the signings of LB Ahmad Brooks, CB Carlos Rogers (which I did not see coming), and putting the franchise tag on FS Dashon Goldson. All eleven starters from lasts years’ defense will be back for the Niners, which is just remarkable.
There are still an abundance of naysayers that believe that the Niners defense will not repeat what they did last year. No s**t! Does not mean they will not be good, in fact they will still be a top five defense. For all the dummies out there the Niners will only be a year moved from having the stingiest defense in the NFL. Many in the defense are still young and thriving (players like LB Patrick Willis, LB Aldon Smith, and CB Terrell Brown to name a few). The veterans on the team still have another two or three year left in them (first one to come to mind is the ageless wonder DE Justin Smith). Injuries can be the only setback, but then again, same can be said for any team on that matter.
My grade is an “A” for the moves on defense.
To be brief (a) the Niners resigned return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. (b) resigned special team ace CB C.J. Spillman (c) lost our other special team ace LB Blake Costanzo, but signed former Raider’s ace RB Rock Cartwright.
Special Teams was vital for the Niner lasts season. Both K David Akers and P Andy Lee were fantastic and were awarded pro bowl selections. Also the coverage units were simply amazing. With Costanzo being the only big lost for the special teams, it is safe to say they will be outstanding once again.
My grade is an “A” for the moves on special teams.
This is where I scratch my head a bit. It was a consensus that the biggest need on offense was wide receiver. The Niners signed wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, which at the time seemed like huge upgrades. Hold that thought for a minute. The more I think about it the more I believe Randy Moss will eventually fizzle out during the season. The guy is past his prime, he did not play in 2011, and in 2010 he quit or became a distraction on three teams (Patriots, Vikings, and Titans). It is very likely history will repeat itself and Moss will end up being Braylon Edwards of lasts year. I hope I am wrong.
Manningham on the other hand is solid. I like him but I cannot get over the fact that he was the number three receiver for the New York Giants. It’s hard to make a big deal over a receiver that at best is a borderline number two. At the same time, I cannot ignore his playmaking ability. Manningham had a superb catch during the Super Bowl to propel the Giants to the title and also caught a touchdown against the Niners in the NFC title game. In all, he is a good upgrade but not a game changer (don’t forget he played alongside Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in New York, made it easier to get one on one matchups).
At the moment the Niners are still looking to fill in the void at right guard after losing starter Adam Snyder and the position will most likely be addressed in the Draft. The most puzzling move in my opinion is the signing of former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. The word is Jacobs is supposed to be the insurance for aging running back Frank Gore. So that makes sense right, ensure one aging running back with another? Jacobs is about to be 30 and is passing his prime. Just seems weird to me the Niners want to get old on the offensive side of the ball with the signings of Moss and Jacobs when they need more explosiveness.
My grade is a “C” for the moves on offense.
Offense will be the main concern during the draft. It has to be, the Niners would have been in the Super Bowl if not for an offense lacking explosiveness and diversity (I know, I know, Kyle Williams). The only weapon during the NCF Title game was Vernon Davis. Defense and special teams are already in place, it time for the “O” to catch up. I have said this before, “Make Coby Fleener the pick.” I truly believe he will put us over the top. Interior linemen (guards and centers) are like running backs, they can be found throughout the draft. With more young playmakers, the Niners will have an unstoppable team. GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!