6-10, again, in 2010. We were then in the tank and going nowhere for the 9th straight yr. Bingo, new college coach comes with terrific resume and runs smack dab into a lockout.
We had to wait, we got blown out in PS by saints, then worse by Texans, and those of us hoping for improvement just have to wait.
We start off okay, no great shakes, and it looks like we have an OL that will take about 10 games to get to know one another and play as a team. We actually seem to have turned the corner on OL and then run into the Ravens, who once again makes it look like 10 games to get the OL on line.
Coaching has been very conservative on O, but alex's INTs are down, and slowly, quietly we pass the 6 W mark, and amazingly lock up the hapless W conference with 6 games to go.
D has started to meld, and this unheralded #1 pick is taken as a surprise and disappointment to most. By midseason, he is looking interesting, tho still figuring it out at times. Fast forward to 14 sacks, and ALL DONE is now a nationally recognized force to avoid. He is not only incredibly fast , but with great moves and for the sacks he didn't get, he decked QBs and had a large # of hits, and always hurries. End of yr he is looking to be very close to DeMarcus ware and I believe will end up even better, maybe way even better than DeMarcus..now there's a thot for the off season.
Less heralded, is the DL which took about 4-5 games to get in the groove, and Justin Smith now becomes the best DL we have had, maybe ever. His bullrush, knocking an OT on his butt, while reaching over him and grabbing Eli in season and again Brees, were something rarely seen . He crushes opposing OTs, and even doubled, wreaks havoc. Fortunately, Big Mac came around as did Soap, with some spectacular stunts and crazy moves near season's end, becoming best front 7 in football.
Not forgotten are the LBs and by midseason, it is acknowledged that p-52 altho injured , when he returns, he and Bowman are acknowledged best two ILBs in football.
Grant in a relief roll plays terrific and best front 7 is now on everybody's mind. Going into season, our weakness was definitely the DBs, and that was very apparent first 4 or 5 games. By midseason, there had been a sea change, and now Goldson, Culliver, Brown, et al are no longer a weak spot, but a huge nasty D backfield to contend with.
HUge hits are laid on WRs, RBs, and TEs, and there is a genuine reluctance for anyone to go across the middle, because they knew they were going to get rocked, and in many cases put out of game. Because of ALL DONE, JUSTIN, and DBs, we lead the league in causing fumbles, drops, and loss of possession.
ON STs, we have a terrible triumvirate of Akers (thank you Philly), Lee, and Ginn. Our ST is best in league, and without Ginns injury we beat NYG and Pats in SB. That is just a fact, not a guess. We have huge advantage in field position, 15-20 yrds with every change in possession. The football field has become 30 yrds shorter for alex, and we set record for best starting positon on field after change of possession. Also Lee booms punts that are fair caught or downed inside the 20 on a pace not seen anywhere in yrs. From deep inside our end of field, Lee routinely booms punts 60+ yrds.
On Offense, quietly, and I mean very quietly , alex is throwing for only 175 to 230 yrds/game, but has 17 Tds vs only 9 INTs all yr. He has developed a neat trick of throwing ball into turf when guys are covered, which was case virtually all yr. Last 5 yrs those were all INTs, but this yr alex has taken Harbaugh to heart and not thrown INTs. Our big glaring deficit is WR, with Morgan gone most of yr, craps turns into a circus catch player sometimes, but usually just doesn't show up. His days here are numbered on a team without #1, #2 and #3 WRs. I strongly suspect Coach H is looking to send him packing for equal value, but he has become a problem and is not doing team or himself any favors. Kyle williams and morgan are it, sometimes ginn, but I can tell you for certain, whoever we draft, acquire or bring back from the dead, we are going to see WRs that not only know how to fake, juke, or whatever, but are going to use those fakes from here on out to help get open... and will hold onto the ball. Maybe no standout, but we will field wRs who can get open and catch. Yes our wRs are not that good, but they alone, of all our positions are the ones poorly coached . Coincidentally the only coach we lost was a WR coach, and bet on a better WR coach being recruited. Wouldn't surprise if it is a coach JH has coached with before. Regardless of who we end up with , count on Coach to have them running crisp routes, with one or two fakes thrown in, and they will catch the ball. We will be vastly improved at WR this yr, so look for alex's numbers to get better, with more TDs and yds.
RBs were a positive, thanks in large part to a rejuvenated OL, with frank well , being frank, and more importantly, the emergence of Hunter, a great addition.
Our TEs have saved our bacon all yr, and Vernon has finally ended up where he should have been. Delanie was doing well until injured. We may end up with a TE functioning as a WR after the draft but I feel certain, we will also land Bowe (i hope) or vincent jackson, DEFINITELY not Desean Jackson, maybe Colston, maybe williams from Pitts. We will get one WR to fill in the #1-3, but may have another TE who plays TE but runs WR routes. Hopefully Kyle comes around and makes it as WR, a # 2 or #3, but no more PR.
Coaching: Last but most important is coaching, with the most remarkable turnaround in NFL hx ever, if not tied for 1st. Coach Harbaugh brought this team around with the basics, that somehow noln, BM, never taught, and that is tackling, ball handling. and thinking. Our positive turnover ration attests to this, with dozens of balls hitting the turf and we got most of 'em. I look for this to get better yet next yr as our D got even better as seaon wore on. Of major consequence is a winning team attitude, not with a team that is beat before the first snap, but a team that KNOWS it is going to win. Everyone (except for a rare one, ie craps) plays his heart out, makes maximal physical effort, and then there is the NFL top Defender of the yr, Justin Smith. All these guys have been coached up as never before, at the hands of a real coach, who eats, breathes, and sleeps, football, and has instilled same in his team. He is a lock for COY.
GM: 150% improved, with a draft that looks to become our best since the 81-82 walsh draft, with Aldon surprising us all, Bowman coming along from last yr, and all draft picks (eg costanzo) definitely adding to the team. Our owner altho young is taking over, and getting out of the way, getting the stadium going, giving a great coaching staff everything they want. Guys, if you are disheartened, hopefully this will cheer you up. No hyperbole here, just facts, and knowledge that we will be even better this coming yr. We have the best coach, ILB tandem , best DL in Justin, best passrusher in ALLDONE, one of best Dbackfields, overall best DL(with soap and BigMac),
best TE, best ST IN THE LEAGUE. In addition our QB, in hibernation waiting for a real coach has shown us what lies ahead, RBs look solid...wow, what is to be despondent about. Top it off with new stadium finally going, and we have an awful lot of BEST in the LEAGUES going for us.
My gosh guys, I can't wait for next season. Can you?
[ Edited by pasodoc9er on Feb 1, 2012 at 9:58 AM ]