Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

NFL Preview: San Francisco

It's time for the NFC West after, sadly, taking the time to go through every other team in the NFL. Note: we have no lives. None. Every day we will go through a different team in the West, ending with, of course, the Seattle Seahawks. Thursday will be prediction day. Just bear with us. We'll try not to disappoint. Well, I'll try not to disappoint. I can't help Gavin.

San Francisco:
2004 record: 2-14

We start with San Francisco, the worst team in the NFL last season (2 wins: 2 times they played the Arizona Cardinals). This resulted in a lot of turnover in the coaching staff, but not a lot of turnover on the actual team. As if Dennis Erickson could have waved his magic wand, smirked his magical smirk, and turned this team into even an 8-8 team. I caught myself actually feeling sorry for that man, until I realized that he knew full well what he was getting into when he left the great rebuilding job he was doing at Oregon State. Can you imagine what might have happened if Rick Neuheisel had gotten that job? Could that have possibly been the greatest event of our, or any, time? Slick Rick trying desperately to maintain player morale by having team-wide gambling sessions, or playing Madden constantly with Tim Rattay, or illegally recruiting players from Botswana or Zimbabwe to tighten up the offensive line? Could you imagine the NFL Films from his years? Just thinking about it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Mike Nolan might have a fire raging in his belly, but unless that fire can create 50 good football players, his rage will not result in any more wins. Sadly, Nolan is not God, who shaped man out of clay. The destruction of this franchise is a tragedy in this day and age of parity. It is the end result of YEARS of BAAAAAAD drafting, Terrell Owens (have to put him in there), poor coaching, and really, really poor general management. GM Terry Donahue should just immediately be signed by an NBA team and save San Fran the trouble. Don't believe me? Look at the 1st round draft picks from San Fran from 1995 on.

2005 1(1) ALEX SMITH QB UTAH - Will be the backup to Tim Rattay this year, many question marks about whether he can be a gamebreaking quarterback.
2004 31(31) RASHAUN WOODS WR OKLAHOMA STATE - Caught a whopping 7 balls last year in 14 games. Pathetic.
2003 26(26) KWAME HARRIS OT STANFORD - Finally ready to be a valuable starter.
2002 27(27) MIKE RUMPH CB MIAMI (FLA.) - Now a FS, and not a really good one.
2001 7(7) ANDRE CARTER DE CALIFORNIA - Last year, 7 games, 10 tackles, 2 sacks. Will play as an OLB this year in the 3-4 scheme.
2000 16(16) JULIAN PETERSON LB MICHIGAN STATE - The one absolute stud here. One of the best linebackers in the NFL.
2000 24(24) AHMED PLUMMER DB OHIO STATE - A solid cornerback, but hasn't risen to the level of expectations placed upon him.
1998 28(28) R.W. MCQUARTERS DB OKLAHOMA STATE - A lackluster career, no longer with the 49ers.
1995 10(10) J.J. STOKES WR UCLA - Double HA!

Final tally: 1 stud, 2 solid players, 3 disappointments, 5 wastes of a pick. Is it any surprise that the 49ers are where they are now? And is it any surprise that they will not improve a great deal this year? Let's take an indepth look, for some odd reason, at the San Francisco 49ers.

Key Losses: WR Cedrick Wilson, K Todd Peterson, G Kyle Kosier

Key Additions: DE Marques Douglas, T Jonas Jennings, K Joe Nedney, QB Alex Smith, RB Frank Gore


Quarterback: Tim Rattay looks like he will be the starter at the beginning of the season, but most people expect Alex Smith to get his opportunity by the halfway mark. Rattay actually played decently last season, with a 60.9% completion rate and 10 TDs (with 10 picks) in 9 games. Either will be a huge improvement over Ken Dorsey, who had no arm strength and looked like he was fondly wishing for the days when he had the best offensive line and the best receivers surrounding him. If Rattay was surrounded by offensive weapons, he might actually be a semi-effective starter. However, he's not.

Running back: Kevan Barlow - 822 yds, 7 TD. That's, um, bad. Barlow was supposed to take the starter's job and, well, run with it. The opposite happened, as the running game was horrible last year. Barlow will be pushed this year by draftee Frank Gore, who was the best draft pick of the 49ers this year (including Smith).

Wide Receivers: Brandon Lloyd was supposed to be a gamebreaker, and was one of the main reasons why management thought they could get rid of T.O. He has really not lived up to that initial promise, and the whole corp of receivers might be the worst outside of Philadelphia. Arnez Battle as your #2? Johnnie Morton? Rashaun Woods? There isn't a whole lot of talent there, and thus not a lot for Rattay to throw to. The best receiver is TE Eric Johnson, who caught 82 balls last year, and was the only consistent threat down the field, which is sad.

Offensive Line: Veteran C Jeremy Newberry is back after being injured for most of last season, and he will be counted on to lead this sad sack of an O-Line. Jonas Jennings was brought over from Buffalo to beef up one tackle position, but Kwame Harris has never shown a real fire and a pancake ability to opposing DE's. This line crumbled all too often last year, and if there isn't some marked improvement, this offense will do entirely jack squat.

Well, everyone else is switching to a 3-4 scheme, so why not San Francisco, right? Will it work? We shall soon find out.

D-Line: And then there was three. The seriously old Bryant Young is back for another season some odd reason, and will be a DE in this scheme. That makes no sense on several levels. The very-important nose tackle position will be manned by underwhelming Anthony Adams or 5th round pick Ronald Fields, while the other DE will be ex-Raven Marques Douglas, who had 5.5 sacks last year. Douglas might be fine, since he's used to it, but I foresee some serious problems as these players get used to their assignments in the new formation. Some running backs really might be able to gash them repeatedly.

Linebackers: Is Julian Peterson healthy enough to regain his top-tier form? It looks like it, and he will be counted on to make upwards of 150 tackles this year, because no one else can. He is BY FAR the best player on this team, so he might take this defense on his back and make it decent. Derek Smith had 110 tackles last year, and will take on one of the ILB positions along with Jeff Ulbricht, who's moustache is almost as bad as the overall 49ers team. That leaves Jamie Winborn or ex-DE Andre Carter to man the other OLB position. Nothing special there, but they might be able to help the overmanned D-Line in not being completely overwhelmed against teams like Seattle.

Secondary: CB Ahmed Plummer is yet another key player who was injured last year, but he has been remarkably inconsistent in his career. Some days he looks unstoppable, and other days he is repeatedly beat around the head by Bobby Engram. The other side will be manned by Shawntae Spencer. These are not cornerbacks that can be counted on to handle the passing attacks of ANYONE else in the NFC West, including Arizona. Mike Rumph will be learning the safety position, so expect St. Louis to really attack them deep in Week 1. Tony Parrish is also still playing, but is also really past his prime. Basically, the linebackers are decent in this defense, but there are glaring weaknesses up front and downfield.

Overhyped Myth: Fortunately the media has been very realistic regarding this team, so overhype really hasn't happened. Everyone knows this team will suck, but they probably will improve from last season. Just not a lot.

Understated Reality: Alex Smith really might not be a good QB in this league. The 49ers tried like mad to get away from that #1 pick, and I doubt this will turn out well. Smith might surprise me, but he played in a weird college offense that was more about his feet and the option then anything near what an NFL quarterback needs to do.

General Prognosis: They will suck, but they should suck a little less then last year. Like winning three games instead of two. The offense is less than adequate, the defense is less than adequate and learning a new scheme...... bleh. Sorry, San Francisco. This team won't be good for several years. This is a HUGE rebuilding project.

Early Season Game I'm Looking Forward To: October 2nd at Arizona. Let's see if San Fran can continue their success of a year ago. If they can, I will LAUGH, and LAUGH, and LAUGH, until my side hurts.

Final Note I: You know you had a terrible offseason when the biggest news was a horrible P.R. video that was just a racist piece of trash.

Final Note II: The staff of Crushed Optimists want to send our condolences to the family of Thomas Herrion, who died after a preseason game for reasons that are still unknown. No team wants to have to deal with that, but props to the 49ers on honoring Herrion, and planning to still do more during the season.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:11 PM  5 comments


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