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Golden Nuggets: 49ers news for 7/17/08


Well, nobody hated the title, so unless anybody has a problem we'll stick with Golden Nuggets. 

Training camp starts next week and various previews continue to pop up, whether it be team by team or position by position.

  • To continue from last week, the 49ers home page has posted previews of the offensive line, defensive line and linebackers.
  • Samuel over at the 49ers MVN site has added his analysis of jersey trends to avoid when the new unis come out.
  • Our very own Duke, Vernon Davis, is hosting a charity event back in Maryland before getting out here for training camp.  While I'm a fan of The Disease, I find myself warming up to The Duke.  In part because of Oakland's Justin Duchscherer and in part because of a character from one of the most underrated movies of all time: Jonathan Mardukas from Midnight Run.
  • Kevin Lynch over at Niner Insider is previewing the various positional units and is on the offensive line this week.
  • RealGM Football has put together very comprehensive previews of teams around the NFL.  They think week 2 at Seattle and Week 3 versus Detroit will tell a lot about the team.
  • RealFootball365 thinks the special teams will be much improved this year thanks in large part to the addition of Allen Rossum.  I'd say kicking and punting were pretty solid as is, but what do I know?

The main reason I wanted to post this set of nuggets today is to discuss the Scouts Inc.'s continued rankings of positional units.  Based on what they had to say about the 49ers defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs, the defense is not all that good.  Personally, I think they've underrated the 49ers in some areas.

Defensive line ranked #31:

The 49ers signed DE Justin Smith away from Cincinnati in free agency. NT Aubrayo Franklin takes up a lot of space and can occupy multiple blockers, but he's not a highly productive player. Incoming rookie DT Kentwan Balmer could supplant Franklin, who would be better suited as a backup anyway. Isaac Sopoaga is more of a run-stopper on the outside, and Smith will be counted on to provide most of San Francisco's pressure off the edge.

Linebackers ranked #29:

To say that Patrick Willis was a pleasant surprise for the 49ers would be the understatement of the century. Even though he was a high first-round pick, he established himself as an elite player at his position with unexpected quickness. He has superb football instincts, can run like the wind and is a striker who jars ball carriers on contact. He should be even better in his second year. Jeff Ulbrich could retain his starting role next to Willis, but the 49ers signed Dontarrious Thomas to challenge Ulbrich for that spot. Brandon Moore also could factor in, so this will be one of the better battles in training camp. On the outside, San Francisco needs to get more pressure on quarterbacks with its edge pass rush. Losing Manny Lawson for the majority of 2007 hurt quite a bit, but he still needs to refine his pass-rush skills. He has a lot of upside and has been solid against the run. Tully Banta-Cain was signed to play opposite Lawson, and while he might be OK as a secondary pass-rusher, he simply isn't good enough to handle extra blocking attention. Parys Haralson is a potentially dangerous pass-rusher who could step up and start opposite Lawson. Willis is a superstar and there is some upside in the rest of this group, but there also is much uncertainty.

Defensive backs ranked #22:

CB Nate Clements gave this group an immediate boost last season, matching up with the opponent's best receiver and showing that he is a solid cover man who can be left on an island. On the other side, veteran Walt Harris can be a solid player, but has started all 16 games just once in his 12 years in the league, meaning the 49ers will need depth behind him. Shawntae Spencer provides that quality depth with his ability to play outside in sub personnel when Harris moves inside to the slot. SS Michael Lewis is a good player near the line of scrimmage and is smart and physical. FS Mark Roman is coming off shoulder surgery and will be pushed by Dashon Goldson for the starting job.