Hey ya'll. So that Super Bowl was - okay, nevermind. I won't even pretend that I enjoyed that game. Whatever. Let's just get down to business.
So this offseason, I have the distinct pleasure of previewing the next thirteen teams the 49ers will play (like, for real play - the preseason don't count). This will be a multi-faceted, three-prong process, complex beyond the understanding of mere mortals. Let me try and break it down for you all:
1) For the next few weeks, before Free Agency, we will look at the state of the different teams, examining what some of their biggest needs are.
2) After FA and before the Draft, we can look at how the team has changed. Are they better? Worse? Big loses? Key acquisitions? Will they keep the same uber-fashionable jerseys? All these important questions will be answered.
3) Finally, after the draft and the teams are looking complete, we will look ahead and examine the relative strength of each team heading into the season.
I thought that for the beginning of this 39 part series, we could start with the teams we know best: the division rivals. So, without further ado, here's part one in the 39 part series of Better Know an Opponent. Arizona's fine football team: the Fightin' Cardinals!
The Cardinals are actually an interesting team in evaluation. Really, in determining what their biggest needs are, you have to make up your mind on the Kevin Kolb situation.
If you think he's the guy for the next however many seasons, then whatever. I'm personally not sold on Mr. Kolb or John Skelton, but I don't see the team looking for serious competition in Free Agency. I mean, the Manning or Brees talk is always going to be bandied about like a dirty secret, but I think it's just talk. The team is too financially invested in Kolb for something else.
For the record, lurking Cardinal fans, if you think I'm wrong at any point in time (like in the above), then call me out!
No, I think that the Cardinal's biggest need is probably O-line, and from what I understand, the Tackle positions. Theoretically, addressing this issue should help shore up not only the QB position, but also any other deficiencies the team may have on offense. (I mean, I think their WR corps is okay. They have that one guy, there, right? Fitz somebody? Sidenote: Early Doucet is a Free Agent, so resigning him or not will probably have an impact up other FA moves).
On the defensive side of the ball, I think that the Cardinals have a couple of spots to fill. Even though Patrick Peterson had a hit and miss season (though with more hits than misses, that's for sure), I think the Cardinals will probably look more toward their front seven.
Any D-line with Darnell Dockett on it is intimidating, but it sure doesn't hurt to upgrade up front - especially in a league which puts such a premium on pass rush. As the Giants may or may not have proved on Sunday (I only remember the Patriots losing, not anybody winning), you can never stock up on DL too much. Also, any division which features Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, and Marshawn Lynch requires a good rushing defense. It probably wouldn't hurt to upgrade at ILB too.
In terms of Special Teams, they have Jay Feely leaving, but hey, we found a spare David Akers just lying around, so it shouldn't be to hard for them to do something similar (lolololololololololololol).
Unrestricted Free Agents: DL Calais Campbell, WR Early Doucet, K Jay Feely, LB Clark Haggans, OT Brandon Keith, OG Deuce Lutui, DB Richard Marshall, P Dave Zastudil
Restricted Free Agents: RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, DB Greg Toler, LB Reggie Walker
Exclusive Rights Free Agents: QB Richard Bartel, QB Max Hall, DB A.J. Jefferson, WR Stephen Williams