The 49ers made a lot of improvements, especially through the draft. Their haul of Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Taylor Mays, Navorro Bowman, Anthony Dixon, Kyle Williams, Nate Byham, and Philip Adams was very impressive. They made use of every pick, and I think every pick this year has a chance to make the 53 man. They lost Tony Pashos and Marcus Hudson to free agency, Glen Coffee to retirement, and traded away Shaun Hill (7th rounder) and Kentwan Balmer (6th rounder) at deep discounts (Hill was probably worth a 5th rounder, and Balmer a 4th). Obviously, none of these players were really part of the 49ers future anymore, so cutting loose was a good idea.
The weakest part of the offseason for the Niners was free agency, as usual. In fairness, they did bring in some good players, like Brian Westbrook, who Frank Gore will most likely learn a lot from, Ted Ginn, who Singletary said was the biggest surprise in camp (will he experience a Vernon Davis-like breakout?), and Travis LaBoy, who brings a non-stop motor and 23.5 career sacks to the table. But we can do better than David Carr and Karl Paymah. Fred Smoot and a veteran QB like Chad Pennington or AJ Feeley would have been much better pickups. I'd rather have Alex Smith learning from one of the most accurate QBs in history than the most sacked in history.
But it was their failure to make that one big splash that may cost them this year. Enter Jammal Brown. He was offered by the Saints for a conditional 3rd or 4th rounder. Let me repeat myself. A 3rd or 4th rounder in 2011 for a 2 time Pro Bowler. The Redskins snapped him up. Here is one of the best pass blockers in the league available for a bargain basement price. This is the kind of player Russell Okung is supposed to eventually develop into, an incredible athlete with great agility and initial quickness that has very polished technique, and is an average run blocker. He would serve dual roles as a mentor for Anthony Davis and be a mainstay on the line for 2 or 3 years. Brown is 29, but he has only 5 seasons of wear and tear, and he is 6'6", 313 lbs. He has had injury issues in the past, and never has played a full season, but also never played less than 13 games. The Redskins instantly improve their line with Brown's addition, and if the Niners had the foresight to sign Brown to a 3 year deal, their line becomes a top 12 unit instantly.
The only other area the Niners could have realistically improved was the DE position. Isaac Sopoaga is not really a weakness in real life; the man is 6'2", 330 lbs, and can manhandle any offensive lineman in the league. He is a great asset in the run game, but a non-factor in the pass rush. My concern is that the pass rush from the linebackers can be inconsistent at times, and since the d-line leads the pass rush, it's sometimes on them. This is obviously not nearly as big an issue as the O-line, but if the 49es plan to go deep in the postseason, improvement is needed here. Landing an all-around 3-4 end with Richard Seymour-like talent is very realistic -- the Raiders got him for a 2011 1st rounder, didn't they? And If a future 1st rounder is the going rate for the best 3-4 end in the game today, ends like Luis Castillo of the Chargers (234 tackles and 16.5 sacks in 5 seasons) could be available for a 2nd rounder. There is one player that is perfect for the 49ers, however, and that is Haloti Ngata. You could have George Bush and Betty White start at cornerback, and our defense would still be 5th in the league with this guy around. Ngata has no weaknesses. He's 6'4", 350. He ran the 40 in 4.85 seconds. He has 3 career interceptions. He plays NT and end equally well. He gets sacks. He commands double and even triple teams. If we spend a 1st rounder and Isaac Sopoaga on this guy, I would be a very happy boy. A defense with Franklin, Ngata, Smith, and Willis is just unfair to the rest of the league's offensive linemen, quarterbacks, and running backs.
Of course, the team is great the way it is, and is a trendy NFC West candidate. But with Brown, Frank Gore runs for 1,500 yards and Alex Smith eclipses the 3,000 yard barrier, and we are guaranteed a playoff berth. With Ngata and Brown, our defense is comparable to the Jets D, and we reach the NFC championship and win 12 games. It's that extra addition or two that takes a team to new heights. I was born in 96, and obviously was too young to really experience the glory years of the 49ers. I'd like to see the Niners do better than .500 at least once in my lifetime.
Which addition is/was the most viable?
Jamaal Brown (11 votes)
Haloti Ngata (13 votes)
Brown/Ngata (8 votes)
none, the team is fine (17 votes)
just Smoot and/or Pennington for minor upgrades (3 votes)
everything! (1 vote)
other (please post what in comments) (2 votes)
55 total votes