The main activity for football fans at this time of the year is trying to guess how good their teams will be in the coming season. One way to approach this highly unreliable -- but highly enjoyable -- activity is to look not at how good we will be relative to other teams -- there being a strong tendency to think that other teams all have demigods at every position while we have incompetents -- but relative to our own recent past: will we be better or worse than last year? And we can break up the question into smaller parts: where will the team be improved over last year and where will it be worse?
Every team tries to improve in all areas, but it can't always do so. Players leave, players age, players disappoint. Ditto the coaching staff. Every team hopes that its improvements outweigh its declines, so that it will be better overall. Obviously, some teams get not better, but worse.
With this thought in mind, what can we expect from the 49ers in 2009? I think it is fair to say that we can reasonably expect improvements in nearly all areas. No, of course there is no certainty. No, of course we don't have crystal balls. Yes, of course there is always the possibility of injuries having a substantial and unexpected effect. Given those obvious caveats, at what positions do you EXPECT the Niners to be WORSE in 2009 than they were in 2008 (averaged over the whole year)?
- Offensive line
- Tight ends
- Wide receivers
- Running backs
- Defensive line
- Outside linebackers
- Inside linebackers
- Special teams
And one might take some intangible facets of football into consideration, too:
- Preparation (practices, game planning)
- Motivation (read: hard work!)
I find it hard it to name an area where I truly expect worse performance this year than last. Perhaps our young receivers don't progress as fast as we would like and our older ones hit the age wall. Likewise, maybe our key special team players (Nedney, Rossum) turn out to be a bit past their prime. But -- injuries apart, remember -- I can't imagine the OLine, for example, or the team's conditioning (thanks to the Hill of Pain) being worse than last year.
In fact, I expect equal, significantly better, or at least slightly improved, performance in virtually all of these 16 areas. I needn't enumerate all the reasons to expect improvements in each of these areas -- you all know them and have been discussing them for months. And since football is a team sport, even small improvements in lots of areas can have a synergistic effect: A better OLine makes the quarterback improve even more than he would by himself, which makes the receivers better, etc., etc. You all know how that works. So I'm expecting a substantially better team this year.
But what am I missing? Are there positions or other aspects of the game where you truly think -- not just fear or worry -- that we will (even assuming no injuries) be WORSE next year? I think -- and hope! -- that will be a shorter list than the list of expected improvements. I'm very much interested in your thoughts.
Unless we go backwards in a number of areas, there is reason for considerable optimism this year! What could those areas be?
(Pardon the length! Perhaps it would good just to Post Reply rather than Quoting the whole beastly thing. )