On the plus side of no football activity this off season, the 49ers will likely be able to retain the services of Manny Lawson, Dashon Goldson, David Baas, and maybe even Abrayo Franklin or Takeo Spikes, if the team still wants him. Not to mention Alex Smith, which I won’t, since a tiny smattering of folks do not consider this a plus and would likely vehemently point it out if I were to mention it. So, mum’s the word on that one.
Should this hypothesis bear out, the 2011 team would be virtually intact from a year ago. Some might suggest that last year’s team went 6-10 with its intactness, so why would we want the same fellows back this year?
First off, the architect of last year’s 6-10 record has been banished to Minnesota. Addition by subtraction. Secondly, anything resembling stability will be a plus in this empty off season. The team may not know the verbiage and intricacies of Jim Harbaugh’s offense or Vic Fangio’s defense, but they do know each other and have experience playing with each other. That has to be a plus.
With last year’s starters in place, it will be easier for the new coaches to phase out the unwanted and replace them with upgraded talent over time, and not all at once. It’s a theory. As such, it might just be today’s horseshit. But it sounds reasonable at the moment.
The key players this year who need to show marked improvement are Reggie Smith, Taylor Mays, Chilo Rachal, and Anthony Davis. Most of the other players are pretty much known commodities. In addition, we need to see Aldon Smith put some sacks on the board, Michael Crabtree take his game up a level or two, and one of the young CBs to be a pleasant surprise, or the team sign a solid CB in free agency, whenever that occurs.
Some players are on the verge of washing out, if they don’t take a big step forward this year. Among those are Tarell Brown, Parys Haralson, and, again, Rachal. If the team signs a new FA CB, Nate Clements could likely be a goner, too.
Another plus for the team is that nobody in the league knows what to expect from Harbaugh or Fangio. It will take half a year for their tendencies to filter through the league. Maybe we can steal a game or two in the mean time.
Then again, maybe the 8th Circuit judges will get off their high and mighty asses today and turn the football lights on again. Which would make today’s post a never-minder. Fine by me. Let’s play ball.