The 49ers offense has been the bane of the team since 2005. The defense wasn’t very good for three of those years, but has been relatively decent the past three years. Most of the blame for the desultory offense has been assigned to Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, and Alex Smith, with a poignant contribution from Jimmy Raye. Smith didn’t play in two of the six ugly years in question, but with or without him, the O was a boo maker. And the target of most of the blogosphere’s angst.
That could all be changing in 2011. The hiring of Jim Harbaugh has been viewed by most fans as an instant fix to the offense. Even though not a single game has been played, no new players have been added, and the team currently does not have a viable QB under contract. Amazing what perception can do to cure reality.
Of course, a year full of three and outs would change this notion in a hurry, but for now it is assumed In Harbaugh We Trust. It’s standing room only on the Niner bandwagon.
Until the team actually runs Frank Gore up the middle on the first play of the 2011 season, the focus in blogsville now seems to have shifted to the defensive side of the 49er coin. It’s a good defense. But it ain’t good enough to win a championship. Or any games against some of the eliter offenses in the league.
If the Niners played in the AFC North, like the Steelers do, their defense would probably be more than competitive. There are no offensive juggernauts in that division, and it’s debatable whether there ever has been. Maybe Sam Wyche’s 80’s Bengals, pre-realignment, would qualify, but I’m hard pressed to remember any others. Playing in that division, where nobody scores much, practically guarantees a top fifteen or top ten defense. Which makes me think those defenses are overrated year after year, but that’s a topic for another ill-conceived and poorly manipulated post.
Even if the 49er offense becomes respectable under Harbaugh, the team is not going anywhere without a better defense. We all saw what happened to Atlanta in the playoffs, and that is precisely what would happen to the Niners. Their defense would be torched. It may be a good enough defense to compete in the NFC West, but no further. The yearly whompings by Green Bay and Philadelphia are testimony to that.
Ergo sum etcetera, the new Defensive Coordinator, Vic Fangio, will be under the microscope early and often this coming year. For openers, we applaud his choice of “Vic” as his handle. “Victor” would just never, ever cut it. It shows he’s a no frills, no baloney guy. Look no further than Vic Morrow vs Victor Borge. I’m sure you see my point. Borge is pretty funny and a good piano player, but we’re talking DC here. I won’t mention Victor Mature, who probably taught Mike Singletary how to pose. Guys named Victor are always treacherous wimps who get killed in spy flicks.
[Apologies to any readers actually named Victor — just kidding. Hey, don’t go away mad! Come back! After all, I’m Skeebers. That’s no DC name, either. Guys named Skeebers are homeless drug addicts who get killed in an alley and tossed into a dumpster before the hero even appears in the movie!]
At any rate, Vic it is. Fangio’s good, too. One of the great race car drivers of all time. Had a lot of nerve and flair. I’m warming up to you, Vic. But we’ll need to see an improved pass rush and better secondary play if this date is going to continue.