A few years ago as 49ers fans, we had little doubt that we could hoist the Lombardi Trophy on our home field. If we fast forward to 2015, we are now a team looking for our identity and leadership. We do not need to rehash the players and coaches that have departed or retired. We don't even have to note the sudden retirement/sabbatical for Anthony Davis. We should also not mention the legal issues with Bruce Miller or the insensitive tweets from our starting quarterback taking credit for storms that have resulted in casualties, injuries and displacement of so many people in Texas. Who will lead this team in 2015? Who can possibly step-up and lead this team on and off the field? Who will emerge as the leader or leaders to replace Justin Smith, Frank Gore and Patrick Willis?
We are less than 100 days away from opening day and we have had one of the worst off seasons in team history. Here is a list of potential players I feel can help lead and restore our image and return us to relevance.
He is already a leader on this team. He will be 35 in the fall and knows what it takes to be a professional. I believe his leadership presence will increase ten-fold. His work ethic alone will serve as an example to the younger players on the roster. This season, look for him to be in Kap's face and a bit more emotional than usual.
He will be on his best behavior this season. Last year was a fluke and I see him playing every game like it's his last. Having Torrey Smith on the field will create plenty of match-up advantages for Davis. We all know, the more he makes plays, the more confident and vocal he becomes. Last year, he was quiet as a church mouse. This year, he will post Vernon Davis like numbers and he will lead by an example on the field with his play.
He will be a huge upgrade over Crabtree. This one is addition by subtraction. We all know he is fast. We all know he might be a bit overpaid. We also know he should be the 49ers number one receiver. His experience will serve as leadership. As he gets comfortable with his teammates, he will become more of a leader. He is aware that he might not have the services of Boldin next year and will soon be Alpha Dog. I see him stepping up and earning his pay day while sliding into a leadership role.
He is entering his eighth season with the 49ers. He is already a favorite among his teammates. This year at 30 years old, I see him stepping up to lead with his blue collar work ethic. He also seems to be the guy that can help mediate a situation or see the lighter side of things. I believe his leadership style will be laid-back, but I do see him as a true leader of this team.
Justin Smith himself selected Bethea to pick-up the leadership role on this team. He was voted the team MVP last year, which was his first season with the team. At 30 years old and a year under his belt with the 49ers, Bethea will emerge as the leader of the defense as well as team leader. His great season last year will carry over. He will help groom and mold the younger players on this roster.
His shear presence on the field will bring a sense of calm to the defense. We all know how he was playing prior to his injury. Having missed last year, he knows all eyes are on him to perform. With Patrick Willis riding off into the sunset, Bowman is now the man. I see him quarterbacking this defense on the field and being a very emotional leader with passion and emotion off the field. He is only 27 years old. If fully recovered, he will be the real deal.
Who will it be? Will it be leadership by committee? Will one or two emerge as the true face of the franchise? Will it be a rookie? We will find out in less than 100 days? Who do you think it will be? Who will follow the leaders?