There has been plenty of pessimism surrounding the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Given the retirements and free agency departures, this is not entirely surprising. NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell has a different take on things. The long-time NFL analyst was on hand for part of minicamp last week, and he had a chance to talk with 49ers.com about his observations and thoughts.
What to look for in offseason workout practices:
One thing that did strike me, just looking at the roster, because there have been a lot of defections, obviously retirements and various things that seems to make a lot of national news. But just looking at the roster, I was still struck by how talented a team the 49ers are.
On what he took away from Jim Tomsula at minicamp:
Well, I've known Jim for a while, and Jim is all football. He's not concerned about the outside noise, he's not concerned about how people perceive the team. I think he feels very good about the roster, as he should. I think particularly on the defensive side of the ball, despite the loss of some players, if you look up and down the roster on defense, there's a lot of good players. And I think they feel that they are a strong, physical team. Jim's old school. He wants to play hammer-and-nails football. He wants to grind it out, play physical, play tough, hard-nosed football. Which, by the way, fits the division they're in.
On impact of the return of NaVorro Bowman:
Well, I think it's huge. NaVarro Bowman was as good an inside linebacker, including Patrick Willis, as there was in the NFL before his injury. And I think one free agent signing that shouldn't be overlooked is Darnell Dockett. I know he missed last season, I know he's an older player, but Darnell Dockett was one of the best defensive ends/d-tackles in the game before his injury. And I think he's probably rejuvenated a bit, being with a new team, in a new environment.
On Aldon Smith:
Aldon Smith is a great weapon. He's got a great body, he looks the part. You can move him around, he can rush the quarterback. Aldon Smith is a really, really good player. And if he can play 16 games, that's a vast improvement over last year, because he didn't play very much last year.
On Colin Kaepernick:
People tend to forget with Colin Kaepernick, because he had such great success early, Joe, that he's only been a full-time starter for two years. He's still a young quarterback, he's still learning the craftsmanship of the position, the subtleties of the position. With a new coordinator, I think Geep Chryst, my sense is, I think he'll try and be a little more expansive and explosive with the pass game. So I'm anxious to see that. I think they'll try very hard to get Vernon Davis back into it. So I think it's important for people to remember that Colin Kaepernick is still a young quarterback, learning.
On next two months for new coaching staff:
A lot of it has to do with scheme and design. Trying to figure out the absolute best ways to utilize the talent in all phases, offense, defense and special teams. So I think that's what they'll probably do. A new staff always does things differently. And that's another thing I think is absolutely worth mentioning, Joe, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Eric Mangini is the defensive coordinator. They have two other defensive coaches now who were coordinators in this league, Jason Tarver and Clancy Pendergast. And they've been successful coordinators. So this is a coaching staff that I think's very, very good, and being overlooked. Even offensively, Chris Foerster, the offensive line coach is widely regarded as one of the most respected in the league. So this is a high, high level coaching staff, and I think that's something that people need to be aware of, because it's not being talked about enough.