It's now that time of year when the national media sites start to release their offseason grades and previews. Yesterday we took a look at Dour Farrar's offseason grade over at SI.com, and it wasn't exactly where you might hope (he gave the San Francisco 49ers' offseason a D). Today, we are reviewing Frank Schwab's preview over at Shutdown Corner. Schwab's article is headlined "Hard to be optimistic about the 49ers," so you might be able to guess what sort of opinion he has of the 49ers this upcoming season, and it's mostly negative.
That said, Schwab does point out a few bright spots on the team. In his section "ready to break out," Schwab lists Carlos Hyde and is pretty optimistic about his ability to lead an effective ground attack. Additionally, Schwab seems pretty certain that Colin Kaepernick is not as bad of a QB as we saw during the last couple months of the season. Torrey Smith, whom Schwab calls the best offseason acquisition, could provide a new type of target for Kaepernick that he has been lacking thus far in his career. In fact, in his "best-case scenario" section for the 49ers, Schwab writes, "it's not so crazy to imagine [the 49ers] competing with the Seahawks for the division."
All that said, even if Schwab thinks the roster has potential players who could catapult the team into competition with the division champs, he also seems to think that's fairly unlikely. Due to the amount of roster turnover and talent lost in the offseason, Schwab predicts (this is in his "crystal ball" section) that the 49ers will likely end up in last place in the NFC West. Schwab admits that it's tough to predict how the 49ers will do because the team has changed so dramatically, but he nonetheless reinforces the predominant theory that the 49ers will crumble under the weight of this offseason.
In that way, Schwab is similar to Farrar and others who see this team as heading straight for a losing season. But Schwab, his headline notwithstanding, points out more silver linings that the team has going forward, not being so doom and gloom as others.
One last point of interest: in his "Achilles Heel" section, Schwab highlights the CB position group as the weakest link on the team, citing Chris Culliver's departure almost immediately. This seems to be the chic choice for the 49ers' big weakness. Though it's not a bad one, I think it's interesting that most writers seem to be honing in on the CBs when there are other suspect position groups on the roster (looking at you, o-line).