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2010 - 2011 Transition

  • SaksV
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 871
I think its pretty safe to say that despite what happens from here on out, the 49ers have some major decisions to make this winter regarding which direction to take going forward. With that said I wanted to throw a few questions out to the masses of The Zone.

If/When Mike Singletary is fired, do you believe this current roster defensively has the personnel to make a somewhat easy transition to the 4-3 defense? If yes, why? If no, why not? Personally, I'd like to see this team continue with the 3-4 and have someone from the coaching ranks come in to elevate the system that Manusky has already installed and the players are familiar with. We can argue all we want as to whether or not Manusky is a good DC or that his schemes are rather vanilla but nobody can deny that right now we have more 3-4 personnel than 4-3. So like I said, do you think the team shifts to an entirely new defensive system or remains within the framework of 3-4 and tinker with the system to make improvements?

Where does Takeo Spikes fit in this equation? If we go to the 4-3 he will likely become Patrick Willis' backup. Do we want Takeo on the bench given the fact he's playing at such a high level still? Will he even WANT to be a backup? How about Justin Smith? Do we part ways with the brute or do we slide him back inside to a more conventional DT position like he played in Cincinnati? DBs...who do we keep? Shawtae has looked bad vs. the run, Nate's looked bad vs. the pass..T.Brown has looked bad overall. Goldson looks like he's been playing with a banged up body all season. Who do we keep at corner and safety? Do we have the personnel in the secondary to play a Tampa-2 style D, essentially prolonging Nate Clements' career (see Ronde Barber)?

Thoughts?
I'm pretty sure j.smith played 4-3 DE in cincinnati
We need to stick to the 3-4. I'm hopeful that we sign Manny Lawson back and this makes our defensive personal capable of running the 3-4 effictively.

The problem with the way we are currently running it is the fact that we don't blitz enough. One of the main reasons why teams run a 3-4 is to confuse the Oline with blitz packages so we can get to the quarterback. Manusky relies to much on getting pressure with our 3 linemen. If we blitzed more, our defense would be better.

I liked what we were doing in the beggining of the game against the Chargers. It seemed like we were blitzing a lot more than usual. Except for the deep bomb to Vincent Jackson on that first touchdown, we did a good job shutting them down.

Also, the best defenses in the league run a 3-4 - Ravens, Steelers, they just know how to use it better.
Originally posted by SaksV:
I think its pretty safe to say that despite what happens from here on out, the 49ers have some major decisions to make this winter regarding which direction to take going forward. With that said I wanted to throw a few questions out to the masses of The Zone.

If/When Mike Singletary is fired, do you believe this current roster defensively has the personnel to make a somewhat easy transition to the 4-3 defense? If yes, why? If no, why not? Personally, I'd like to see this team continue with the 3-4 and have someone from the coaching ranks come in to elevate the system that Manusky has already installed and the players are familiar with. We can argue all we want as to whether or not Manusky is a good DC or that his schemes are rather vanilla but nobody can deny that right now we have more 3-4 personnel than 4-3. So like I said, do you think the team shifts to an entirely new defensive system or remains within the framework of 3-4 and tinker with the system to make improvements?

Where does Takeo Spikes fit in this equation? If we go to the 4-3 he will likely become Patrick Willis' backup. Do we want Takeo on the bench given the fact he's playing at such a high level still? Will he even WANT to be a backup? How about Justin Smith? Do we part ways with the brute or do we slide him back inside to a more conventional DT position like he played in Cincinnati? DBs...who do we keep? Shawtae has looked bad vs. the run, Nate's looked bad vs. the pass..T.Brown has looked bad overall. Goldson looks like he's been playing with a banged up body all season. Who do we keep at corner and safety? Do we have the personnel in the secondary to play a Tampa-2 style D, essentially prolonging Nate Clements' career (see Ronde Barber)?

Thoughts?

I think the good part about our defensive roster is flexibility to play a 3-4 or 4-3. If we did switch to the 4-3 we would need to sign/draft some D-line. I would see a d-line like :

Smith-RJF-Sopoaga-Mcdonald

Franklin isnt resigned if we go to a 4-3. As far as Lb goes, I would love to see Lawson and Brooks on the outside with Willis on the inside. Spikes could be the Nickel LB in a 4-3. I think its time to part ways wth Clements since he has a real escalated salary. I think we can get better value elsewhere unless he restructures.
[ Edited by E-49er on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:37 AM ]
A major house cleaning is in order first for coaches and then on both sides if the ball.

Either a player is part of the solution or they are part of the problem.
I think the problem with the defense is a combination of both scheme and personnel. I think Manusky favors zone schemes because he recognizes that we don't have man coverage skills in the secondary. Spencer is our best cover guy, and that's not saying that much because he struggles against top end receivers. Nate is a liability in coverage. Goldson has good physical skills but no instincts. When is the last time he made a big play ? Most of his "woo licks" come 15 or 20 yards down the field with the offensive player converting a first down. When you have those guys back there, and a mediocre (at best) pass rush from the front seven, you are going to get carved up in the passing game. I would favor a 4-3 just because we don't have the pass rushers at outside linebacker to make the 3-4 work. Haralson and Lawson don't generate much pressure. Brooks and LaBoy are inconsistent. Willis can blitz, but when he doesn't get there, it is a guaranteed big play because the coverage can't hold up. Assuming no changes in personnel, I would play 4-3 and get Ray MacDonald on the field and move him around both inside and outside. He and Smith are our best pass rushing linemen and our defense is at its best when we can generate pressure up the middle (so I would also move Smith inside on occasion on passing downs). My base line would be Sopoaga at left end, McDonald at left tackle, Franklin at right tackle, and Smith at right end. I would rotate Haralson in at left end for Sopoaga on obvious passing downs. For the linebackers, I'd keep Spikes at outside backer on the left side (more beef there for teams who will try to power run to the strong side), Willis in the middle to go sideline to sideline, and Lawson at right outside backer. I would rotate Brooks and Bowman in for Spikes and Lawson. The secondary is where we have the biggest problems. Spencer is a lock at one corner because he is our best cover guy. The other corner position is a problem (this is where we need help in the draft - if no suitable franchise QB is available, use 1st round pick on the best available cover corner). Tarell Brown has not shown that he can hold down that corner spot. I think Clements could be a good strong safety. If we keep Clements, I would try moving him there assuming we can draft a good corner to replace him or get one in free agency. I think Reggie Smith has a chance to be a decent free safety, and we have some depth there if he can't do it. I think it would be a big mistake to spend big money to resign Goldson. He looks the part, but does not have the ball skills to warrant big money. He is replaceable in free agency or the draft (or with Mays).

Top needs in draft or free agency are QB and CB. These two positions are the key, and we will not win consistently without big upgrades. If we can get a couple of good cover corners in the draft, we can play more man schemes with tighter coverage (versus soft zone) and get off the field more. With the current soft zone coverages, teams are easily able to convert on third down due to our mediocre pass rush and limited blitzing success. Result is that our defense is on the field all game and wears down. This has been the case in all of our losses this year. Not to say that offense isn't a big part of it too. 3 and out doesn't help your defense. But a QB upgrade takes care of that.
  • SaksV
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Originally posted by tatayoyo:
I'm pretty sure j.smith played 4-3 DE in cincinnati

You're absolutely right. He did play primarily RDE in the Cincinnati 4-3. When they were in Passing Downs though, I seem to remember him sliding over to play DT (Nickel/Dime Packages). My main reason for suggesting it is because I really like Justin Smith. I think he's a workaholic who simply gives his all every single day. This organization NEEDS guys like that. If they can figure out a way to retain him while still being able to utilize his skills (albeit in a new system) I'm all for it. I just don't see him as a dominant 4-3 DE any longer (I'd argue that he never was dominant in the 4-3).
  • SaksV
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 871
Originally posted by E-49er:


I think the good part about our defensive roster is flexibility to play a 3-4 or 4-3. If we did switch to the 4-3 we would need to sign/draft some D-line. I would see a d-line like :

Smith-RJF-Sopoaga-Mcdonald

Franklin isnt resigned if we go to a 4-3. As far as Lb goes, I would love to see Lawson and Brooks on the outside with Willis on the inside. Spikes could be the Nickel LB in a 4-3. I think its time to part ways wth Clements since he has a real escalated salary. I think we can get better value elsewhere unless he restructures.

When I look at that potential starting D-Line, I can't see us getting to the QB with any consistency. None of those guys are skilled pass-rushers. We'd be amongst the league leaders Vs. the Run but in the bottom ranks in Sacks. Justin Smith is the only player among those four who can get in the QBs face with any regularity.

IMO, if we go 4-3, we will need to slide McDonald and Sopoaga to DT and either switch J.Smith over to LDE (Under DT in Nickel) or keep Smith at RDE and bring in 2-3 Lineman via Free Agency/Draft.
Originally posted by LasVegasWally:
A major house cleaning is in order first for coaches and then on both sides if the ball.

Either a player is part of the solution or they are part of the problem.

The first coach I would ax is Jerry Sullivan. He hasn't impressed me one bit and hasn't been talked about positively since he was in Arizona with Boldin & Fitz. Crabtree runs poor route running and it can't be fixed?

Also, speaking of transition, it's time to move Nate Clements to safety. He obviously is too slow for CB and is a good enough tackler and blitzer to make the switch. Something we should have done in 98 before we let Rod Woodson go
  • SaksV
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 871
Originally posted by socal81:
Originally posted by LasVegasWally:
A major house cleaning is in order first for coaches and then on both sides if the ball.

Either a player is part of the solution or they are part of the problem.

The first coach I would ax is Jerry Sullivan. He hasn't impressed me one bit and hasn't been talked about positively since he was in Arizona with Boldin & Fitz. Crabtree runs poor route running and it can't be fixed?

Also, speaking of transition, it's time to move Nate Clements to safety. He obviously is too slow for CB and is a good enough tackler and blitzer to make the switch. Something we should have done in 98 before we let Rod Woodson go

Oh absolutely, I created this thread under the premise that this organization will clean house.

If Nate will take a pay cut, I'm okay with moving him to safety. With that said though, if he's being outmuscled by taller, faster wide receivers, how would he manage against even quicker slot receivers and much bigger TEs.
[ Edited by SaksV on Dec 18, 2010 at 11:38 AM ]
People always talk about us as having a very talented team. That may be true, but I take it with a grain of salt. I don't think we have as much talent as people claim. But at the same time, i think we have enough to be a better team than we've shown. So it is clear that the coaching and schemes are not good. I agree about Jerry Sullivan. He is always praised as a great WR coach. But I'm not seeing it. Either he sucks or the schemes we run are crap. I think it's a combination of both. With the QBs we have, and our slow lineman, the screen pass is a horrible option. Get that out of the playbook. Those flare passes to the flat are a disaster. A. Smith cannot make that throw. 90% of the time the throw is high or long with the receiver having to jump or adjust. So it nets no gain or a loss. And Crabtree on the quick slant is a disaster in the making because Smith throws high or long and Crabs is looking at the DB or LB who is going to cream him instead of concentrating on the ball. Usually results in an incompletion or worse a tip leading to an INT. They really need to work on that one and keeping the ball lower on the throw. Instead of running Davis on the vertical route down the seam (which every other team knows is coming and takes away) get Davis running more shallow crossing routes. I blame the coaching staff for the horrible plays and schemes. We have a few guys like Davis and Morgan who can make plays in space. Use them correctly. Walker can make plays too, but he can't concentrate and drops a lot of balls that could be big gains.
God knows that this team needs a lot. But just looking at the QB position, I have looked at FA possibilities. Who might be available or let go by their teams? Here are a few:
Carson Palmer - 78.1 rating
McNaab - 77.1 rating
Hasselbeck - 75.2
D. Anderson - 65.9 rating

For reference, Alex's rating is 79.2

My question is would any of the above dare come here given our OL situation and the lack of exceptional WRs?

Kolb's name has been brought up before. PHIL is a top organization. But they are tied for the division lead at 9-4. Kolb played four of those games and two were wins. If their backup QB lost one of those two, PHIL might be out of the playoffs. Thus, they probably feel they need to keep both Vick and Kolb to protect against an injury to one of them.

Who else looks like an answer? Pickings are not good.

Draft: 50% chance of drafting a good one in the first round. After that the % vdrops. If the first choice is used on a QB, then we can't use it on another impact player of need.

Conclusion: It doesn't look good for 49ers for awhile.