I'm actually more positive about our chances next year. And here's why:
I'm really excited to see Lattimore, Carradine, and Dial play next season. I have nothing to back this up but I have a really good feeling about those two (the same way I felt about Kaep). I see Lattimore as a starter and Carradine making a huge impact in the rotation game along the D-line.
Unlike many I don't think HarBaalk had an off draft the previous two seasons. Ok, Ok, 2012 wasn't HarBaalk's best, I admit. But we did get good value from LMJ, Looney, and Moody (on ST). However, that 2013 draft is gonna prove one of our more productive in decades. Reid starts. Lattimore will start next season. Tank will likely start when Cowboy retires. Patton has starter potential I think (if he's thrown to more). Dial will provide no worse than serious depth on the D-line. Moody is excellent on ST. We all seen what McDonald brings as a 2nd TE. Lemonier is seriously gonna push Aldon I believe. Only Daniels and Cooper aren't on the roster from that draft.
The 2014 picks:
We have 6
picks in the top 3 rounds
That's a huge retooling advantage. I'm begging that HarBaalk don't
trade any of those picks - pick all of them!! We have 13 picks total in this upcoming draft and I really hope we don't get drunk on the BPA, but pick BPA where we're weakest. I think we should draft ALL 13 pick, though I doubt that'll happen. Just too many picks to resist a trade deal somewhere. But with that many picks we're gonna hit on more than few.
But I think that the fist pick needs to be a starter, preferably at the CB position - a big CB nasty & physical at the LOS. Justin Gilbert in the 1st, Marcus Roberson in the 2nd, or
Victor Purifoy, Aaron Colvin, Victor Hamilton, Keith McGill, Pierre Desir all in the 2nd or 3rd. I also think we can get FS Ed Reynolds of Stanford in the 2nd or Calvin Pryor FS of Louisville in the 2nd and seek to convert both to CB. But we should get at least 2 CB's, one WR (Jordan Matthews - cousin of Jerry rice - Donte Moncrief, Brandon Coleman), an ILB (Christian Jones of Florida St., Shayne Skov of Stanford, Chris Borland, Wisconsin) and maybe a SS (Craig Loston of LSU in the 3rd) somewhere in those 1st 6 picks.
We also need to get a QB out of this draft (Tajh Boyd in the 5th, Zach Mettenberger in the 4th, or Tom Savage in the 7th). Kaep has earned a franchise QB contract and will get it, but he needs to be pushed by real potential.
JH & Co. player development:
I predict that JH & Co. will be proven to be player development aces next season. Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Demarcus Dobbs, Vance McDonald, are all testements to the player development skills of this staff. And overall, they've done a masterful job with Kaep. (And the scary thing is that he's still growing.) I honestly think that RB coach Tom Rathman cannot wait to get his hands on a healthy Marcus Lattimore. I love Gore, but I predict that his days as a starter are done. Hunter is good, but I don't see him as the bell-cow of the future. If Lattimore proves decent in the passing game as a blocker and catcher (which he was at S. Carolina) I see him earning more touches and time on the field than either of the three backs. With looming promising players like Cory Lemonier, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney, Quinton Patton (who I think is gonna be huge next season), Quinton Dial, being developed by JH & Co. we have the youth and talent to be a playoff team for a long time.
Returning health & depth:
. . . .Which brings me to this. The injury demon really kicked our a$$ and the injury gods really hated us this season. When you look at it we really suffered a tone of injuries, probably more starters than any team in the league at very key positions. Crabs, Miller, Williams, Iupati, Cully (nickle), Manningham, Fleming (ST). Loosing that much starting firepower would have finished 95% of the teams in the league well before the playoffs. This speaks to the depth and versatility we have. If next season we suffer the type of injuries as we did last season I have no doubt that we have enough talent to carry us into the playoffs again. A healthy 49ers is a bad thing for NFL teams to deal with.
I know offensively we need to seriously change some things, in particular playcalling, predictability, and creativity. Someone said that Kaep needs to go to QB school, and I agree. JH and Kaep need to move in together until training camp. Far too often this season defenses knew what was coming by formation. But I think JH & Co. did a marvelous job considering all the key injuries.
I just think that our chances next season could actually be better. We're gonna have even better rotation at the D-line, which gives us another year with Cowboy. Kaep has been to the NFC Championship his whole career, that has to count for something. I honestly think the coaching staff has learned some things about playcalling this season and relying too heavily on our defense. I have all the faith that they'll come up with a scheme that'll score the points we need for the 2014-15 season. ST and the D needs to change nothing (though I think we can blitz a tad
bit more, and I do think we should draft a return specialist). Unlike many I do not think that our "window" is closing. We're still young at most spots but are experienced in big games, not to mention we have 13 picks to retool. But our offensive philosophy has to evolve.
I think we are real good position for years to come. Thought?