11-85 is not yet as famous in the Bay Area as 16-80 or 8-80, but a few more years of heroics and a couple of SBs could change that.
Alex Smith to Vernon Davis tied an NFL record for TDs by a TE in 2009 and last year almost double-handedly put the 49ers into the Super Bowl. With the addition of an actual group of NFL quality WRs this year, should we expect 11-85 to diminish in importance … or grow into legendary status?
It doesn’t appear that 11-15 is headed toward Canton. Not at the current pace of courtship. In what appears to be a shotgun wedding, Michael Crabtree keeps ducking the rehearsals. He has now missed five practices and Mario Manningham has … missed three or so himself. Into the breach has stepped Kyle “Rocky” Williams, whose outstanding practices are difficult to ignore.
Last year, nobody knew what Jim Harbaugh’s offense would look like and this year … nobody knows yet again. We’ve added some WRs that almost demand an increase in 3 WR formations, and a corresponding reduction in Delanie Walker time, but the real wringer of intrigue is second round draft choice LaMichael James. With Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, and Kendall Hunter already fighting over the lone RB spot, it looks like James will be ticketed for the “third down specialist” role, where it’s hoped he will become the scariest 49er backfield guy the team has ever had.
Harbaugh has anointed all of his WRs as equal in status, but no one in the world believes this blarney one bit. Clearly, Randy Moss is the 49ers new #1 receiver, supplanting Crabtee in this distinction. Whenever the team went to the super power formation with one WR last year, that one wide out was Crabtree. I can’t recall him ever getting targeted, let alone open, for a surprise pass. If that WR is Moss this year, you can bet there will be one less safety in the box on third and one.
Other than that, being the #1 WR doesn’t mean much in the NFL these days. A team’s leading receiver can be a TE or RB or slot receiver as easily as a true numero uno WR. The main ingredient is “fear.” Do secondaries fear any of your guys? Right now, Moss and VD are the only guys the 49ers have that can inspire this dread. Crabtree has the ability, as the number two WR, and AJ Jenkins was drafted towards this need, also. We’ll see.
There’s a Hall of Fame game Sunday between the Cardinals and Saints that might be worth a peek or two. The first peek is for “Hey! It’s a football game!” And the second peek is to see Kevin Kolb throw his first interception of the new year. But the real hometown peek fest will begin next Friday. And all our offseason questions will be … replaced with new questions.