Last week’s OTAs did not generate much hyperbole in the blogosphere, making it a ratings failure as entertainment. There are three more OTA sessions scheduled for June, but it is doubtful they will fare much better in stirring the blood of the verbal masses.
Part of the problem is the lack of wreckage to paw through from the concluded 2009 season. This has been a staple of the 49er off seasons since 2003. There have been no calls for anyone’s head on a platter, no QB controversy raging, no new Offensive Coordinator to dissect, no goofy draft day decisions to scratch anyone’s fancy. Change, failure, and ineptitude have been MIA.
This year’s OTAs are not being used to install yet another new offensive system. Instead, the offensive (and defensive) systems already existing are being tweaked and expanded by the veterans and indoctrinated into the rookies. This internet warbler has always muddied the difference between the OTAs and Training Camp, but this year that distinction is a little clearer than just no hitting vs hitting. In previous years, OTAs were more like casting tryouts, whereas this year the OTAs are a rehearsal for TC.
So it will not be until Training Camp begins at the end of July that the real action will take place. Not a pleasant thought for 49er blog content providers.
Training Camp should be exciting this year, however. For the nonce, let’s take a squint ahead to some early prognostications as to the players who will generate some surprising or merely expected buzz:
Glen Coffee. He had a pretty impressive pre-season last year, only to disappear during the actual season, and subsequently become the victim of unfavorable comparisons to the RB allowed to move elsewhere, Kory Sheets. He also became, due to his name, the favorite ad nauseum target of bloggers fond of bad puns. Before the season had even concluded, this fellow was consigned by the blogosphere’s quick-with-a-hook crowd to the scrap heap of busts. Adding to his quick dismissal, the 49ers drafted RB Anthony Dixon, and this 6th round pick was immediately handed Coffee’s job.
We beg to differ. Coffee has added weight and apparently looks more explosive than last year. Since he will be playing against second stringers during the pre-season, we expect him to have some fairly gaudy rushing achievements. He also possesses the less flamboyant, but dear to coaches’ hearts ability to block blitzers, so we also expect him to see more time on the field when the season begins. Frank Gore’s biological clock is reaching the “it’s definitely ticking” stage and the 49ers will try to squeeze another year or two from this noble warrior’s career by spelling him more often, while also judging Coffee’s qualifications to eventually assume the role of lead RB.
Though much will be made of Mike Iupati’s ability to open holes for Gore, Coffee stands to gain perhaps even more. Coffee hits the hole quicker than any of the 49er RBs and he hits it with a vengeance. While his style may not be conducive to breaking long runs, it is conducive to four and five yard gains. A useful commodity that was virtually non-existent in 2009 since the holes to hit were almost never there.