5 Step Plan for Winning the Division
January 22, 2007 at 1:30 PM
By Brett Pahler
Step 1: Bring home Lance Briggs. He’s a Sacramento native who forced four fumbles last year (Derek Smith has forced five in his career). He’s only 26, and will be our most physical linebacker since Ken Norton. Plus, he can do that leaping chest-bump thing. When’s the last time we saw Smith and Ulbrich pull that off? Let’s get to work people. If someone can create a “bringhomebriggs.com” website and one of our Sacramento readers can petition his parents, we can do this.
Step 2: Bring home Jared Allen. He’s from Los Gatos, only 24, and had seven sacks last year along with 11.5 tackles for a loss. With Allen and BY as our ends, we’ll be in excellent shape. We’re never going to find another end this good who grew up a 49ers fan. On a side note, I don’t care if we spend $20 million of our $40 million in cap space on Briggs and Allen. I’d rather have two superstars than eight different Brian Gillmores. Nolan’s persuasive. He’s got credibility from his Baltimore days. He relates well to players. He can get these guys.
Step 3: Decide whether we’re playing the 3-4 or the 4-3 once and for all. I’m tired of reading articles every summer about how we’re going to mystify our opponents by being one of the only teams in the NFC that employs the 3-4, only to find us playing the 4-3 by our third preseason game. Personally, I don’t care what we play, but if we’re letting guys like Winborn, Carter, and Peterson go because we want guys that fit the 3-4, we better figure it out.
Step 4: Pencil in Roderick Green as one of our outside linebackers. I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t know who he is or how he got here, but he had 4.5 sacks in seven games last year. Pro-rate that over the full 16 games, and that’s 10.285714 sacks. If we want to draft more guys who can speed rush, fine, but pencil this guy in as a day one starter. As for the other linebackers, move Brandon Moore inside to play alongside Briggs, and keep Lawson at the other outside linebacker position. Remember, Moore’s a great pass rusher. Playing him inside enables us to have three linebackers that are skilled pass rushers (Moore, Green, Lawson) on the field, making it harder for the offense to figure out where we’re coming from.
Step 5: Strongly consider drafting Dwayne Jarrett. If per chance we are fortunate enough to sign Briggs and Allen, our front seven would be legitimately good. As would be our offensive line, running back, tight ends, and quarterback. The positions we would need the biggest upgrade in would be corner, safety, and wide receiver. Safety has been a liability for several years, but not the second half of this year. Lewis and Roman were all over the field, and Lewis would have had more tackles than Ken Hamlin if he had played the entire year. There’s no need to spend a first round pick on a safety, especially when safety might be an ideal spot for Walt Harris a year from now. As for corner, I’ll admit we need a third corner, but Leon Hall probably won’t fall to us, and there isn’t anyone else worthy of the eleventh selection. Consequently, if Hall’s not available, and Jarrett is, what’s the harm in drafting Jarrett and using the rest of our picks on defense?
Think about it. Our offense presently consists of handing the ball to Gore and hoping he can eventually wear the defense down. And it’s working because we have a pretty good offensive line and because Gore’s probably the best running back in the NFC. But I wouldn’t want to be an innocent bystander should we ever have to win a game through the air. Enter Jarrett, a physical speciman who uses his body as well as anyone, has Fitzgeraldesque eye-hand coordination, and yet still had the ability to run away from secondaries at the college level.
Concerned about him being another Rashaun Woods? Think back to draft day two years ago when we picked Woods. ESPN showed highlights of Woods making two yard catches and getting tackled. And these were the highlights. This isn’t a problem with Jarrett.
If Tom Brady was our quarterback, I would probably feel differently, but Smith needs all the help he can get. Our offense, improved though it may have been, was still the league’s seventh worst.
Free agents like Kevin Curtis, who had fewer receiving yards than Cedrick Wilson last season, aren’t going to cut it. An offense with Gore, Vernon, and Jarrett, not to mention Bryant and Battle as second and third receivers would terrify opponents. Instead of just having to contain Gore, defenses would have to contain everyone.
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