Alright Niner fans...these were our team needs. How did we do?
Current Interests/Needs (in order of importance IMHO)
- Note that top tier = higher need & second tier = secondary need (some breathing room). If a need is labeled top tier, it could also indicate the large drop off in talent from a starter to the next-man-up.
Top Tier T
- We needed a "swing T" so we got three: Carter Bykowski and Luke Marquardt (PUP) and we brought back Adam Snyder. That said, Marquardt is on the NFI list, Bykowski is weak and NOBODY wants Snyder to be the backside blocker for CK (hand injury as well). Worse off, if there is another injury to Staley, we may have to mess with the chemistry along the entire OL and move Boone from RG to T (not easy to adjust to on the fly) and insert someone else at RG (2 of 5 positions); that would be Looney (LG) or Kilgore. This is NOT good. We still have a major hole here IMHO. Will we pick up a veteran LT?
Top Tier Cover SS
- It's safe to say the FO got their man in Reid at FS. Dahl seems like a viable backup at both SS/FS and will also help a ton on ST. That said, Whitner still can't cover esp. in the RZ and looks even slower to me so far in pre season; so scheme will have to be the theme for 2013 here. Fangio is going to have to put Reid 1on1 on the Boldin's and tall slot TE's of the world. That said, he didn't do that with Goldson, so why would he with Reid? Nothing else to report here save for Spillman and perhaps, Robinson (if he even makes it; short as well). We shouldn't have to rely solely on the pass rush esp. in the RZ where passes are typically made less than a 3-step drop and right down the middle of the field (I'm looking at you Whitner and the underneath coverage of Willis/Bowman!).
Top Kickoff Coverage Unit/Ace Kick-Punt Returner
- Our best gunners this pre season by far were Lockette, Morris and Osgood. Our #1 gunner is now gone and neither Morris or Osgood are expected to make the team. If Moore makes it as the #2 or #3 he won't be playing gunner on ST anymore (best guess). This is an ignored area of concern and it cost us in the Superbowl and is still affecting us greatly in pre season; we did look better against the Chargers. Cox has looked way better than James (injured) but nobody would classify him as "dynamic/electric" and nobody fears him taking it to the house every time he touches the ball (like we do against every team we face, it seems). While some teams have 2 dynamic returners, we can't seem to find one. Now Patton is being tried out, Williams is back and Hawkins looks like the only real viable "dynamic" returner who has some "it" to him. But how do we keep him on the roster and ahead of the #6 guy in Hall who also is a backup returner and reliable receiver?
Top or Second Tier DE
- Tomsula had Christmas with getting Cornellius Carradine, Quinton Dial and a major project in Lawrence Okoye but he may not see any of them under Christmas 2013! That said, Tank and Dial will most likely be red-shirted this year (PUP) and Okoye is hoping to make the PS. Fortunately, Dobbs continues to impress and Dorsey can play DE and NT behind Ian Williams. McDonald and both Smith's are 100% healthy. Do we keep a guy like Will Tukuafu or Tony Jerod-Eddie in the interim (neither would add much, if any ST ability). If we keep 6 here (5 likely active) what other areas on the team get cut?
Top or Second Tier CB
- Only picking up Marcus Cooper/Nnamdi (later, Darryl Morris) screams to me, "SCHEME is the THEME for 2013!" Look for bigger, stronger, taller more physical starting CB's this year to play press more and perhaps, all across the DB lineup. Look for our shiftier CB's (esp. Brown) to move into the slot to cover the micro-talented WR's of Harvin (IR) and Austin. Darryl Morris has a real shot here! Cooper seems to play very sound, disciplined in the games (smart, mature) and Morris has made some big splashes in practices and has epic speed and great coverage on deep balls. You can't teach what both Cooper and Morris have! Rogers is still "OK" (still loses battles) but Nnamdi and Cox (terrible one game) have both looked tremendous and Brock has looked very good as well. Obviously, the pass rush has allowed them to play with the WR's in front of them more and play much more aggressively. But as proven in pre season, if it's a jump ball, we're losing that battle every time. Hopefully, Nnamdi can help out in this area as he's won the #3 CB spot.
Top or Second Tier NT
- Well, let's be real here, passing up every single NT in the draft tells me, "SCHEME is the new THEME in 2013!" Look for many more 4-man DL and inside and outside pass rushers up at the LOS. Boy, hasn't THIS become true thus far. And with Lemonier, Skuta and Johnson rocking all pre season, we're golden at OLB. My underrated dark horse was Lamar Divens who is the only true 2-gap NT we have; I'm hoping he and Okoye make it to the PS and develop ala Ian Williams. Ian thus far, has been tremendous and appears to be even better than the old Sopoaga/RJF and Dorsey appears to be a lock behind him and in rotation at both NT and DE. I'm still concerned about facing power running teams and in short yardage/goal line situations.
Second Tier WR
- Well, it seems like Moore or Patton will end up being the primary WR opposite Boldin. Crabtree's injury hurts a lot but thankfully we have an even more productive veteran in Boldin to ease that loss. Do not expect Crabtree back at all this year though. That said, we can expect Manningham back after week 6 which is why we will probably only start the year with 5 or 6 WR's: X = Marlon Moore/Jon Baldwin --- Y = Kyle Williams/Chad Hall or Lavelle Hawkins --- Z = Anquan Boldin/Quinton Patton
. The important thing to remember here is that we run a "package offense" so ALL of these guys will be used in all three spots depending on the play called by HaRoMan. And let's be honest here, VD and McDonald are going to be lined up everywhere to create mismatches so you can expect less receptions from the WR group this year unless we look to employ more 3+ WR sets (but I doubt it - think we still focus on a controlled offense/TOP). I saw a couple times where we ran a 5-receiver set and only ONE of those guys was a WR.
Second Tier C
- Patrick Omameh (moved to RT) and Sherman Carter were added to compete with our red-shirted Looney and Kilgore. Do we have a potential cut of Goodwin here? If not he'll most likely have to restructure but make no mistake about it he's still in a dog fight to start now that Kilgore played so well this pre season. It's still undecided who wins as the starter but it's most likely Goodwin (chemistry). Also, Looney has been working out at LG and C and he looks MUCH better at C. In fact, he looks legit at C.
Second Tier FB
- We have nobody behind our pro bowler, Bruce Miller. Dixon will make the team as the short yardage RB and backup FB but he's a pretty poor blocker at times and blows many pass protection assignments; he's also slimmed down more to be part of the passing game/running game. We probably need a pure FB here; someone like Jason Schepler is legit (if he can excel on ST coverage units as well) but this in unlikely b/c of how stacked we are on the 53.
Third Tier TE
- Harbauh got HIS man in Vance McDonald. The team also brought in MarQueis Gray as a project as well for Walker's old H-Back role. I originally had VD, McDonald and Gray (H-back) making the team with Celek getting cut. We are on par with that but Celek is not a poor player and we could end up keeping 4 TE's at the expense of the WR group (keeping 5 instead of 6) or go reverse here. Let's be real here; the 2-TE sets are going to be dominant this year and expect many looks for these TE's from the Q-formation, slot position and even split out wide as a WR. As a result, that #5 and/or #6 WR won't see the field much at all except on ST. The team could stick with Celek as the #3 over Gray and risk him to the PS (likely).
In the end, of Robinson, Hampton, Gray, Tukuafu, Jerod-Eddie, Hall, Hawkins, etc. who adds the most immediate
production on the ACTIVE 46 and who adds the most value in the short-long term? These are TOUGH decisions to make!
[ Edited by NCommand on Aug 31, 2013 at 7:39 AM ]