San Francisco finds itself in a similar predicament as last season. Following a grieving loss the team can identify distinct flaws from the game. In the Super Bowl, San Francisco struggled to formulate any type of pass rush and, as a result got beaten on deep throws time and time again. According to most 49er's fans, CB Chris Culliver and/or CB Carlos Rogers are at the top of the list to get dumped/replaced/traded this offseason and this has me puzzled. Do fans not remember the six-pick Carlos Rogers from just a year ago, or the NFCCG Culliver interception? Both corners played incredible defense AT TIMES but were missing, Culliver in particular, in this years Super Bowl. The biggest concern for San Francisco has to be the pass rush. Defend him all you want, but Aldon Smith was the least effective player on the San Francisco line in the final weeks of the season, and postseason. Smith was well on his way to breaking the sack record, but fell off entirely when Justin Smith partially tore his triceps and the San Francisco D was never the same. Before the Justin Smith injury the 49ers were holding defenses to 14 points a game. Following the injury and including the playoffs San Francisco surrendered 29 points per game to opposing teams. And for those that learned math and know the sport of football, allowing more points is, unfortunately, not a good thing.
Up to this point, many fans are sounding pessimistic and a bit cynical. It baffles me. The 49ers did 100% what they needed to do to improve from last year. Everyone knew the receiving corps and passing game needed to improve and improve it did. We shouldn't be complaining, we should be celebrating.
But, now that we have fixed other problems, its time to assess the others by way of draft, free agency, trades or simply improvement within the roster. The 2012 draft as we all know produced one solitary player who contributed to the team this year. LaMichael James was valuable after Kendall Hunter suffered a season ending injury but had a costly fumble in the Super Bowl.
The best corse of action for this team would be to, ideally, sign a middle-aged defensive lineman to replace, temporarily, Justin Smith if he isn't ready to go for the beginning of the season. The list of DL free agents is not too intriguing (http://www.footballsfuture.com/2013/fa/dl.html) and is headlined by veterans Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora. The 2013 DB free agent class is equally plain, the only significant player being Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. After signing with the "Dream Team" Rodgers-Cromartie could be humble and may possibly accept a cheap contract to play for an actual Super Bowl contender.
I haven't looked into the draft class so i am not up-to-date with any potential players for us. (anyone have a list?)
Letting Goldson and/or Walker go would be an enormous mistake. Goldson for obvious reasons, Walker for less. Drafting STARTERS instead of predetermined BACKUPS is a necessity this time around. After the 2012 offseason focused on beefing up the offense, oddly enough we find ourselves desiring defensive players. Puzzling yes.
Kaepernick looks like a lock at the QB spot for a solid 5 years, barring a serious injury (insert RGIII's here) or a contract dispute that drives him out of town. If Crabtree continues to play at a high level, Davis reemerges, and Manningham plays up to potential we should be lethal next season.