Anyway, my initial thoughts going into the preseason...
1) Frank Gore: I said last year in the first few weeks that I thought he had lost a step. I don't think anyone would argue with me that he's not the exact same guy he was a few years ago. My bigger concern with him tho is how often he gets hurt...and in particular how often its his ankles. He just seems to keep re-injuring himself in the same place. To me that puts a premium on sharing the load. Like no other time in recent history, the Niners are setup to do just that. Hunter was very good last year and should only get better. Jacobs is a solid pickup because all of the Niners other backs are relative midgits. I was jumping out of my seat when Jesse Sapolu announced the LaMichael James pick. I would not be stunned if he became the every down back in the next few years (and yes, I'm aware of his size). Harbaugh will ride that run game as far as it will take him. That's his style. The thing is tho is that he and Roman are INNOVATIVE in the run game and don't just keep bashing into a brick wall like some other coaches we won't speak of.
2) Offensive Philosophy: On a similar note (and I mentioned this in another thread), the media outlooks of this offense drive me crazy. After the signings of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and the drafting of A.J. Jenkins, the media has gotten it into their heads that the Niners are going to try to become a dynamic, pass the ball 60 time offense. Thats freakin' Luney Tunes. Harbaugh had the best college QB in a generation at Stanford and ran the hell out of the ball. Toby Gerhart anyone? The Niners are going to run the same damn offense they ran LAST year. They are just going to run it BETTER.
3) Alex Smith: Another thing that drives me nuts. "Alex Smith can't repeat last year". Yo. Genius. He kinda already did. Wha? Peeps tend to forget that the change in his performance started in 2010, NOT 2011. In the final 7 games after "We want Carr-gate" he threw 8 TDs and ONE pick. Including those last 7 games and the playoffs last year (25 games) Alex has thrown 30 TDs and 6 picks. That isn't a HUGE number of TDs but the INT number is stellar. STELLAR. He did the same thing in college (32 TDs, 4 INTs as a senior). Why? The problem with Alex is that he will not throw the ball if he isn't sure. Sometimes he will hesitate too long because he wants to be sure and will throw late. Those late passes turn into sacks, deflected passes, and INTs. What changed? Alex stopped giving a f*ck in the second half of that Eagles game. Thats why he rallied to throw 3 TDs in that game. What else happened? Harbaugh runs a system that MAKES THE QB SURE OF HIS READS. There is less ambiguity. There is a REASON that Josh Johnson became a college star. There is a REASON Andrew Luck is so advanced. That reason is named Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh knows what its like to play that position and built an O tailored to put the QB in the best possible position. It's really that simple.
4) Peyton Manning: I just had to bring this up so it would go away. Someone is BOUND to read the above and say something to the effect of "yeah, but the Niners wanted Manning". Dude. Peyton Manning is one of the best QBs of all time. If he becomes available, you take a stab. Saying Alex Smith isn't as good as Manning isn't an insult. 99% of QBs who have ever played aren't as good as Manning. We have Frank Gore, but if a healthy Walter Peyton was available, they might take a stab.
5) Aldon Smith: Look. Out. I think he's gonna blow up in a big way this year. I'm on record as of right now....18+ sacks.
6) "All the stats can't be repeated so they won't go 13-3 again": Thank you Captain Obvious. This season won't be exactly like last year. Thank you for that gem of knowledge. Niners WILL have harder schedule. They WILL NOT be +28 again in Turnover Diff. Guess what tho? They probably also won't be worst in the league on 3rd down or in the red-zone. David Akers likely won't have to break a single season scoring record. They probably won't put up only 200 yards of O is 3 of the first 4 games. Finally, THEY DON'T NEED TO WIN 13. Sigh.
7) Dashon Goldson: I think I'm in the minority, but I'm not his biggest fan. The 6 picks last year were great but I see him miss WAY too many open field tackles and I don't think he's the ballhawk people make him out to be. I think this is his last season in SF. I also think people are going to light me up on this one. ;-) Have at it.
8) Right Guard: As much as I like the idea of Leonard Davis coming in and simply MAULING people, I think this is Alex Boones job to lose. Davis is just insurance. That position has been a thorn in the Niners side for some time. Solving that problem would go a long ways to improving the third down and red zone issues the team had last year (which is why I think Boone will win it...better in pass protection). Having said that, I can picture Davis coming in for unbalanced line plays and put Davis, Davis, and Davis on one side of the line (Anthony, Vernon, and Leonard). ;-)
9) Randy Moss: I just dunno with this one. I am excited to see him and I hope he's the same guy he was in New England. I just have no idea what to expect. He's doing and saying all the right things...I just really don't have a feel for how this is going to work out. There is a part of me that thinks "He is gonna blow up and have a big year", but the rational side of my brain keeps shouting that part down. "Are you nuts? 35 years old, didn't play last year, he's got nothing left". I'm very curious to see him play. He and LaMichael James are the guys I'm most looking forward to getting a look at.
10) The D: I don't even know what to say. I think they'll be better this year than they were last year. Aldon will make the Pro Bowl. So will Patrick and Navorro. They are going to beat the hell out of Aaron Rodgers in week one and they will do it rushing only 4 (Aldon, Justin, Ray, and Issac - EDIT: or as suggested by oldninerdude, Ahmad) and dropping 7. They will obliterate the meager attempts to run with just their front 7. That lineup of opposing QBs on the schedule (Brady, Rodgers, Brees, E. Manning, Stafford) are in for the beating of their lives. I can't wait. ;-)
Can we get this thing started now?
[ Edited by Marvin49 on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:42 AM ]