So just ot give some background....been a niners fan ever since i started watching football, grew up watching the early-mid 90s Steve Young led Niner teams and have followed intently throughout. Unfortunately, this team lost a decade of football with the Erickson-Nolan-Singletary BS regimes. I think we all knew they were b******t deep down but wanted to believe we were trending towards the defensive dominated teams that were en vogue the last few years. BUT - We're the niners. We're supposed to be running the WCO, supposed to be dominating offensively and driving the opposing defense nuts, and all the while still playing stout defense.
While i was happy to see the WCO offense return where it rightfully belongs, i wasn't convinced about Harbaugh or ready to anoint him Bill Walsh Jr. when he got hired, the way others did. I don't know that i'm convinced just yet, but I do like what I'm seeing. He's building a team with great rapport, there's no doubt we're playing 100mph from snap to whistle on defense and really getting after it, swarming to the ball the way Nolan and Singletary were supposed to have us playing. And on top of all that, this past week I actually felt like i was seeing some legit WCO. The 2nd half was damn near bliss. There was timing, rhythm, we were keeping the defense off balance and guessing. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
So....credit where credit is due. Harbaugh still has a lot of work to do, but this team is starting to click and react rather than think. Not having the the full training camp hurt us a lot because everything and everyone were so new to each other. We weren't the Jets-Pats-Steelers-Packers-Giants who have had the same roster and playbooks for the past 3-4-5 years. So it only makes sense that it's taken a little over a month to start to see things come together. And we should only continue to improve and start to get "it" as the season progresses. People complained about the vanilla playcalling but in reality, I just don't think our players were ready for extended, in-depth playcalling because they were still digesting the playbook. Now it seems like they're getting more and more comfortable. The biggest takeaway is that we've won the tough, close games that we normally would lose the past few years. We could easily be 4-0 and it wouldn't be an aberration.
With regards to the roster...our offensive line still needs some work. Those guys are starting to get it, but Rachal needs to go for sure. We need more depth. Goodwin is coming along fine which I'm pleased with cuz you need a solid veteran center like him. Our OLine will be our achilles heel this season I think.
As solid, if unspectacular, as Alex Smith has been, we still need a legit WCO QB. I actually really like and respect Alex, but he was never a true football player/quarterback. He's a guy who plays football and plays QB, but isn't one...if that makes sense. I just don't think he's ever had a real feel for the game the way the naturals do. Even so, he isn't losing us games and is actually starting to win some for us.
Gore is still the man but I'm just ecstatic about Hunter. Not sure if he's an everydown back, but he's the change of pace RB we've been looking for the past decade. While Nolan and Sings wanted smashmouth, big, bruising backs, Hunter has proven to be the small/shifty RB that can break a play open. Kudos to the new regime for drafting him and recognizing the football player there, rather than dismissing him because of his size/measurements/combine stats.
I still like the idea of Anthony Dixon, but it seems he's fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. His biggest problem IMO is that he doesn't run big. He wants to run like Hunter but can't, and i'm sure that drives the coaches nuts.
So long as our QB is getting good protection, our WRs will run their routes and get open. Crabs, Morgan...wish Braylon were out there. Vernon Davis...the WCO is a TE's best friend. Love seeing him cross over the middle, run the fade...he's key to what we do and we can't throw to him enough.
Defensively, we still need to shake out the roster. Whereas Ricky Jean-Francois was a starter in the past, you're seeing he's not worthy of getting any PT. And obviously we miss Abruayo Franklin, another Ravens reject who was overrated by the previous regime and some fans. Sop is just fine as NT though i prefer to find someone better suited in the offseason. He's holding it down though. Justin Smith is and always has been money well spent, McD has stepped up bigtime on DE. Aldon Smith looks to be the truth and a serious problem when rushing the passer, our LBs are the best in the business. Bowman's been a ridiculous surprise.
I think the 2 most underrated acquisitions for us are Carlos Rogers and David Akers. Rogers is a legit cover corner, the kind we convinced ourselves Nate Clements was, and while he got knocked for bad hands and not getting INTs, i'd rather have a guy get his hands on the ball and drop it then get beat altogether. RCB is still a bit shaky, but Tarell Brown and Spencer are holding it down. And David Akers was a KEY acquisition and a great chess move. The front office, knowing our team was a bit younger and definitely unproven, grabbed a veteran kicker who could put points on the board and win us some close games. Mission accomplished.
I like where we're headed for sure. The true test is always when adversity hits. Do we stumble and lose a few we should win? Do we start thinking we're than we are and get knocked back down to earth. Do we start the season on fire and then fade in December? Questions to be answered....