Much has been passionately spoken of the 49ers shortcomings on offense, the predictability and pedestrian nature of Jimmy Raye's playcalling, the 'Alex Smith Syndrome' that seems to have polarized fans one way or the other. Also thrown into the already boiling melting pot of early season drama has been certain views on the capabilities of Coach Singletary all the way through to the disenchantment with the front office and Jed York's management philosophy. Ahhhh, to wish for the good ole' days of Eddie D and Bill Walsh, to have the good fortune to draft two players at their positions, "Montana to Rice", who would end up becoming the 'Greatest of All Time' at those positions, and everything would be sweet again. But all that is for another time.
While all that has been going on offensively has been whipped up into a frenzy and allowed to simmer, the pride of the 49ers 2009 season, it's defense, has endured the past week without nearly half the speculation or level of interrogation that it should deserve. Defense wins championships. You've heard it, I've heard it, it's the cliche that wins football arguments. Yet somehow, Greg Manusky has trotted along this week relatively unscathed, not placed under the ruthless scrutiny that he should be after providing us with such a wonderful gift of 31-25-31, the first and third against what some might seem to be lesser opponents. Indeed.
The 49ers defense was it's calling card last season, but what now? Well, a few small points. Michael Lewis and his lack of pace has already been shown to be a problem, and without him having the smarts to position himself correctly to compensate, the only solution glaringly obvious to everyone would be Reggie Smith or Taylor Mays, or both in tandem depending on packages. Takeo Spikes is getting along, and NaVorro Bowman must surely be included in more game time situations so that he can be blooded for the future. Bowman has technical problems with tackling that Singletary will definitely polish up, but his ability to read the play is severely under-rated. Justin Smith needs to find a way to turn the corner off the edge with more venom and speed. The corners, well, that's a whole other segment. They just need to get alot better, fast.
Unless Manusky finds a way to stop the rot on defense, the 49ers will continually find themselves in shoot-out scenarios with a 'hyper-speculation' QB, a diva WR who can't run his routes properly, a double-covered TE, and an O-Line that needs more mongrel and less respect for it's opponents, because if he doesn't, who cares about whether Alex Smith is good enough or not, or whether Mike Johnson can turn things around, it'll be over everyone's head.
Defense wins championships...........