The 49ers finished 8-8 last year, as many of us know. They could have finished 10-6 at least, were it not for a certain last second TD pass from Brett Farve to Greg Lewis, a relative unknown before then, or a dropped TD by Vernon Davis. But no matter. This is a new year, and a pivotal offseason for the niners, to say the least. Almost every player from the 09 campaign will be returning, save for some like Issac Bruce and Brandon Jones. Perhaps the most notable free agent, however, is David Baas, a 2nd rounder picked in 05 by the niners. He hasn't lived up to his potential however, and is probably a below average pass protector and slightly above average run blocker. I am against the niners resigning him to a deal, however, as there are much better options in the draft and free agency. Other than Joe Staley and Eric Heitmann, who are the lone bright spots on our below average OL, there really isn't much to look forward to on the line. Adam Snyder is a bad right tackle, even as a stop gap solution, and Chilo Rachal seems to have promise, but he hasn't quite put it all together yet. Some options throughout the draft include Trent Williams (a pure right tackle), Bryan Bulaga (a left tackle who could make the switch from the blind side), Mike Iupati (the highest rated guard in the draft, and for good reason), Jon Asomoah (a sleeper pick in the 2nd that could really pan out), or even Anthony Davis (a highly athletic tackle prospect ranked #3 best tackle by Scouts.com, but is a bit of a project). Options that could be pursued through free agency include Marcus McNeill (he's a 94 in Madden. 'nuff said) Logan Mankins (he's one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL) Daryn Colledge (an above average guard who was the best lineman on the Packers last year) Jammal Brown (a perennial Pro Bowler that was the Saints' left tackle but could switch to right or move to guard) or Willie Colon (the starting right tackle for the Steelers who did a nice job last year in the run game).
Another need that I feel the niners have is in their front seven. Besides resigning Aubrayo Franklin, who is crucial to their run defense, I feel that the niners should trade away Issac Sopoaga, maybe as a package deal to move up their draft position, or add another pick, such as a 3rd rounder. I'm not saying that Sopoaga is bad, as he really does a nice job against the run. It's the fact that he is one dimensional, or rather stopping the run is all he can do. He is not known for putting pressure on the passer, as evidenced by his 5 career sacks in 77 games over 5 seasons, plus he doesn't really get that many tackles in the first place; he has 91 total. Signing a free agent who can do it all like Richard Seymour or Ray Edwards will do this team's defense wonders, and the added pressure on the QB will make it easier for the team's secondary to do its job.
Speaking of the secondary, this team has got problems with its defensive backs. Clements and Spencer were effective in the first half, but Clements has had a bit of a dropoff, though he could return to form by the beginning of the 2010 season. However, I think that Tarrell Brown, Shawntae Spencer, Clements, and Reggie Smith do an adequate job at corner. The real problem is the safety spot, as Michael Lewis will probably retire as a 34 year old who has suffered many concussions in his career. Dashon Goldson has potential as a safety, but we really need a near elite safety who can cover like a corner, such as OJ Atogwe, Antoine Bethea or Dawan Landry in the free agency market, or Eric Berry in the draft. If we can get a solid safety who is an improvement over Lewis, we'll be better off.
In terms of receivers, we are really close to having a top 10 receiving corps. Crabtree is going to be a #1 recieve for many years to come. Davis will be the top TE in the game next year. Gore is an underrated option out of the backfield. Morgan has the potential to be one of the top #3 receivers in the NFL, for whatever it's worth. All we need, at least, is a guy who has good hands but can get separation in order to free up other options and get open himself. We could go the draft route, and pick a receiver in the 2nd like Golden Tate (who can also double as a punt returner), Brandon LaFell, or Arrelious Benn if he falls that far. Or we could sign one of the numerous free agent WRs like Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston (also a returner), Jason Avant, Antonio Bryant (yes, that one), Malcolm Floyd, the list goes on and on. If we signed any one of the first 7 guys to a contract, this team's passing attack could be deadly. As in Colts deadly, in terms of wideouts. Heck, if we signed Marshall or Boldin or Jackson or any of those guys we'd have better recievers than anyone else in the NFL. Get it done, Niners brass!
If the niners should acquire the services of one of the elite WRs through free agency, or sign a promising rookie wideout through the draft, draft a tackle/ a guard or sign a tackle/guard such as a combo of Iupati and McNeill or Bulaga and Mankins, sign/draft a safety like Eric Berry, OJ Atogwe, or Antoine Bethea, and even trade away Sopoaga and sign Richard Seymour or Ray Edwards and keep the same head coach/ offensive coordinator combo in Singletary and Jimmy Raye, Alex Smith will have no excuse but to produce to his fullest potential. If he doesn't, or if his potential wasn't that great to begin with, then get him out of here and draft a QB in 2011. 2010 will be Alex Smith's year. He needs to step up regardless whether or not the team follows my sage advice. Preferably, I'd like to see him put up maybe 3700 passing yards, 61% accuracy, and around 25 TDs to 11 interceptions. If you think this is too hard for him to achieve, well then why did we draft him #1 overall in the first place? Surround him with weapons, protect him, give him an elite defense, and see if he can lead us to a division title and a strong run in the playoffs, maybe even the NFC championship. If not, then he has no business playing football anymore. Let's go, now.