Originally posted by ace52:
I was devastated by this loss, so much so that I didn't/couldn't post anything yesterday after the game. I was just too stunned by another heart-wrenching loss.
However, with some time to reflect, I think we are going to be OK next year. Our team still has a lot of talent, and our players play with a passion and intensity that will win most of the games that they will be in.
Still, to take the next step up toward becoming a SB champion, the Niners will need to work on a few areas. I would like to see the team do these things in this coming off-season:
1) Kap must improve: I don't want to see him go to Atlanta to work on his strength/athleticism. His athleticism is off the charts (for a QB) already. I would like to see him stay right here in the Bay Area, and I would like to see JH work with him in a QB clinic, if you will. During the season, a head coach has to divide his time between so many other things, so he probably won't have the time to do significant 1:1 work with his QB. Time should not be an issue in the off-season. Also, I think that JH should invite another expert to come to this "clinic" to work with him and Colin, because another set of eyes may bring a more objective view that JH himself may lack. Heck, I would like to see Jim reach out to Steve Young, who still cares enough about the team that if the Niners ask nicely, and pay him well for his time, will probably agree to come and help out the young 9er QB. Jim and Steve can really work with Colin on developing his pocket presence, more touch on his passes (he still throws the ball too flat sometimes, with not the right amount of arc to beat tight coverage). They should work with him on reading defenses, throwing under pressure, and throwing in the red zone with pressure in his face.
2) Baalke is a frugal GM, and that is good in general. However, if there is a stand-out WR with deep threat speed, and/or CB in the free-agent market, I hope that he will not hesitate to go after them even if they may be expensive, as long as they don't break the bank, so to speak. SEA made some free-agent signings this year (Avril, Bennett) that ended up helping them out a lot. Draft picks are great, but sometimes even outstanding rookies will make mistakes that a good vet won't make (see Reid whiffing on Lynch yesterday, for example).
3) I love Bowman, but I'm not sure if/when he can be back at 100% after that horrific injury. We need to keep Wilhoite (a very good LB, IMO), and go after a stud LB in the draft as an insurance policy in case Bowman can't return as the Bowman that we all know and love.
4) Let Lattimore gradually work himself into the starting RB role. I love Frank, but I think he is in the twilight of his career. Let him tutor Lattimore this coming season while splitting the carries with him, and later on, hopefully Frank will become a RB coach with the Niners.
5) The OL needs some upgrades. They have never been that good in pass protection, and for a line that is supposedly great at "mauling people" in the run game, they have not been able to consistently open holes for our RBs when going up against good defensive fronts. I would definitely keep Staley and Boone. The Niners should consider upgrading the other positions along the line, or at least have an open competition for them.
6) Try to keep Boldin. Enough said.
1) Kap needs to improve, but I doubt it'll be Steve Young helping to make that happen. Why? Because he's Steve Young, and probably doesn't have the time, assuming he'd even want to. Additionally, we need a more innovative mind on offense. Hopefully Roman gets a job elsewhere and we can bring in a guy like Kubiak (assuming he'd want to) to coach up Kap, the o-line, and add some more sizzle to the passing game.
An offensive mind like his would absolutely work wonders with our personnel.
2) I never got this preoccupation with "speed." Speed isn't the reason we lost yesterday, or the Super Bowl last year. Look at Denver, none of their receivers are exactly burners but they get the job done. Ditto for New England, New Orleans, and the list goes on. What makes for a good receiver is much more than what they clock in the 40 (see: Ted Ginn). Hell, all things considered our "slow" receivers did really well this year. Boldin hasn't gone over 1,000 yards since 2009 and speaking to statistics he hasn't had a season like this one since 2006. Mind you this happened despite our passing game being ranked 30th in the league (by total yards).
With better QB play--and I have no doubts that Kap will improve--we win both of those games handily. That said, Kap is still young and will improve in time.
3) I think our LB corps are fine as well. Sure, more depth never hurts, but we have two very capable backups in Skuta (who absolutely balled out this year despite his limited role), and Wilhoite.
4) Agreed. I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for this, but I think that Frank should not be the starter going forward. Before, he was capable of besting eight man fronts even behind a crappy o-line. Now, it seems as if he can only get traction if he has wide open holes to run through. He is still a good RB, but he is not equipped to deal with fast defenses like Carolina and Seattle. At this point in his career, he's either boom or bust when he has the ball.
And to contend going forward, we'll need more consistent production out of the backfield.
5) Agree again. For however good we are running the ball, we're equally terrible with pass protection. Sometimes it is Kap holding the ball too long but others it's because these guys are just getting whipped up front. Changes need to be made.
6) This plus a million. With improved play from Kap and a fully healthy Crabtree (not to mention an easier schedule), we could literally be unstoppable next season.
Make it happen Baalke.