Way back in July, I wrote a column about five predictions I believed would come true for the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. I'm sure all of you remember the article, have it up on your refrigerators and have been waiting with bated breath for me to do a follow up....right? Probably not. I thought I would do one anyway, though.
Prediction number 1: Frank Gore bucks the trend of runningbacks hitting a wall at age 30
I couldn't have been more right about Gore and his ability to maintain his status as one of the elite backs in the NFL despite turning 30 years of age. He finished ninth in the NFL with 1,128 yards on the ground and scored nine rushing touchdowns (the second highest total of his career). Gore also proved to be durable at 30, playing in all 16 games this season and carrying the ball 276 times. He did, however, post the lowest yards per carry of his career at 4.1.
Nothing proved Gore's worth more than when the 49ers fell into a 1-2 hole early in the year. The offense was sputtering and had gone away from the power running game that had made them so successful under Jim Harbaugh. Gore had only received 20 total carries in back to back losses in Weeks 2 and 3, but the team re-committed itself to making him the focal point in Week 4. The result was a five game winning streak that would see Gore average 21 carries and 95 yards a game during that span and score six of his nine touchdowns.
Prediction number 2: Nnamdi Asomugha will not only make the team, but START
I was kind of right here. Early on in camp, there were no guarantees Asomugha would be on the roster come September, let alone be a major factor on the defense. The fading cornerback played well enough in the preseason to beat out Tramaine Brock and while he didn't start, he did come in when the defense was in nickel to play the outside while Carlos Rogers moved into the slot. Despite the large role, any hopes that Asomugha would find his old form were washed away rather quickly as he looked old and slow during the first three weeks. After getting injured, he was replaced in the lineup by Brock who ended up leading the team in interceptions with five. Asomugha was cut during the season and his football career appears to be over, while Brock received a new deal and looks to have one of the starting cornerback spots locked up for 2014.
Prediction number 3: Vernon Davis will gain 1,000 yards receiving
Davis had a great year in 2013, but finished short of 1,000 yards. Even so, I'm wondering if I can give this one to myself on a technicality? Davis gained 850 yards overall but missed Week 3 with an injury and left the game against the Carolina Panthers early on with a concussion (he had one catch for two yards before leaving). Taking out the games he missed, Davis had 848 yards in 14 contests which averages out to 60.5 a game. If you take that average over 16 games you get..969 yards. So I still missed here but not by much. Do I get any points for the 13 touchdowns Davis scored?
Prediction number 4: Glenn Dorsey will be one of the most underrated pickups in the NFL
This prediction didn't look good early on as Dorsey was beat out by Ian Williams for the starting nose tackle position. Williams went down for the year in Week 2 though, and Dorsey was thrust into action. He responded by (quietly) having an outstanding season in which he did a fine job anchoring the 49er defense. Players like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman can't dominate if they constantly have blockers in their face. Dorsey, along with his line mates, did an outstanding job all season of winning battles at the line of scrimmage. He even tied his career high with 2.0 sacks.
Prediction number 5: Greg Roman will leave for a head coaching job after the season
Barring something unexpected, it looks like I was wrong on this one. Roman did garner some interest from both college and NFL teams looking to fill vacancies but didn't seem like a serious candidate for any of the positions. Roman came under a lot of fire this season for an offense that was all too predictable at times and had trouble throwing the ball for much of the year. The 49ers finished 30th in the NFL in total passing with 2979 yards and were last in attempts (417), completions (244) and first downs through the air (148).
Colin Kaepernick came on late but struggled for much of the season, only eclipsing 200 yards passing in six games all year. In Weeks 10 and 11, the 49ers dropped back to back games to the Panthers and New Orleans Saints. In those losses, Kaepernick threw for 218 yards in both games combined and was picked off twice. Hindsight is 20/20, but if the offense is even kind of competent in those games, San Francisco would have won at least one of them and had home field advantage in the playoffs.
Ah, what could have been...