Originally posted by jsaniner:
In a recent column Lowell Cohn wrote, "Mike Singletary had the same players with a few exceptions and couldn't deliver". That's a typical media opinion, that Harbaugh, using almost or mostly the same players as Singletary had, was solely responsible for the 49ers stunning success. You here the theme over and over, by sportswriters, on TV and on sports talk radio. It has become the conventional wisdom.
There is one problem with it - it's dead wrong. It ignores a major story, a significant accomplishment of the 2011 49ers - the rebuilding of the defense by Trent Baalke. When you look at the changes in defensive player personnel from 2010 to 2011 in detail the scope of the makeover that Baalke orchestrated becomes clear. It wasn't just "a few exceptions" as Cohn said, but a whole lot of exceptions, a total rebuild.
Of the 13 defensive positions positions (the starting 11 plus a situational pass rusher and nickel back), nine of them had new players. That's a major transformation. Baalke did it by by moving backups into starting roles - Brooks replaced Lawson at outside linebacker, Bowman replaced Spikes at inside linebacker, Sopoaga moved from defensive end (replaced by backup Ray McDonald) to replace Franklin at nose tackle. Brown replaced Spencer at cornerback. Baakle acquired quality free agents - Whitner at strong safety and Rogers at cornerback. Baakle drafted Aldon Smith as a pass rusher and Culliver as a nickel back. Every one of these moves was an upgrade at the position. Only Goldson and Willis and Haralson and Justin Smith werre carry-overs at their position from 2010. Vic Fangio is a fine defensive coordinator, but he could not have achieved the results he did using 2010's players.
This in no way diminishes the job Harbaugh and his staff did; they deserve all the credit they have received. But Baakle deserves equal credit for what he accomplished. Together they engineered one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NFL history. Neither could have done it without the other.
Forgive me, but I'm not understanding your argument. You cite Cohen's article and provide a quote that "Mike Singletary had the same players with a few exceptions and couldn't deliver" and say that this basically is a common misconception by the media and then go one to give your reasons. The fact is, all of your arguments point to the fact that Singletary DID have the same players (barring a few exceptions), he just didn' play them in the right position or had the wrong guys starting. Take a look:
2010 Defense 2011 Defense:
DE J. Smith DE J. Smith
NG A. Franklin NG. I. Sopagoa
DE I. Sopagoa DE R. McDonald
OLB M. Lawson OLB A. Brooks
OLB P. Haralson OLB P. Haralson
ILD P. Willis ILB P. Willis
ILB T. Spikes ILB N. Bowman
CB S. Spencer CB T. Brown
CB N. Clements CB C. Rogers
SS T. Mays SS D. Whitner
FS D. Goldson FS D. Goldson
Nickel T. Brown Nickel C. Culliver
Sit Pass Rusher A. Brooks Sit Pass Rusher A. Smith
So, as far as the defense goes, of the 13 positions you speak of, 9 of those players were on the team and actually only 2 new starters were acquired. I would say that Singeletary DID have the same players for the most part "with a few exceptions" like you cited.
As for the offense, it's even more apparent that Singletary had "the same players with a few exceptions":
2010 Offense: 2011 Offense:
QB A. Smith/T. Smith QB A. Smith
RB F. Gore QB F. Gore
FB M. Norris FB B. Miller
WR M. Crabtree WR M. Crabtree
WR J. Morgan WR J. Morgan/B. Edwards
TE V. Davis TE V. Davis
LT J. Staley LT J. Staley
RT A. Davis RT A. Davis
RG C. Rachal RG C. Rachal/A. Snyder
LG M. Iupati LG M. Iupati
C D. Bass C B. Goodwin
Taken together, of the 24 positions (22 starters plus nickel back and sit pass rusher), 7 of them were new acquisitions. Of the actual 22 starters, only 5 were new acquisitions (where Edwards did not have any impact and previous Niners in Ginn and Williams filled his role). So really, of the 22 starters, 18 of them were indeed players that Singletary did have. Wouldn't you say that the sentiment "Mike Singletary had the same players with a few exceptions and couldn't deliver" would be a fairly accurate statement?