49ers Have Opportunity to Right the Ship This Off-Season

Dec 17, 2004 at 12:00 AM


This off-season could represent a turning-point in the organization, or at least, a break from the previous two years of humiliation. Several factors could come together to make next year's team significantly better than this year's.

First - One way or another, Erickson will likely depart. The prideful York and Donahue cannot afford to jeopardize the nostalgia of the franchise anymore than they already have by employing a coach who does not want to be there but refuses to leave. If Erickson does not appreciate the opportunity he has been given to coach football's most successful franchise, let's bring in someone who does.

Second - John York seems to be getting more personally involved in the organization, which I consider a good thing. Perhaps he is tired of his reputation as a penny-pincher. Perhaps he is beginning to see football as a business challenge aside from the X's and O's.

Third - Donahue's reputation as a general manager is on the line. Firing Mariucci was a risky move that did not pay off. Win totals have decreased the last three years under his stewardship. If there was ever a time for him to prove that he is an above-average general manager, that time is now.

Fourth - Having the top pick in the draft is a tremendous incentive for everyone to do their job well and increases the chances of landing a top-flight coach. Expectations are already low, a large infusion of talent will be entering the ranks, and the coach will likely have considerable influence over personnel decisions. Having an opportunity to make significant strides against the rest of the league this April should inspire coaches to watch more film than ever.

Fifth - The offensive line situation will only improve. Kwame Harris has played well the last two games, and with much more confidence. The return of Justin Newberry will be an enormous upgrade over Brock Gutierrez. Justin Smiley should be reliable next year. On the downside, Scott Gragg appears to be slipping. Nevertheless, if the 49ers spend a first or second round draft pick to replace either Heitmann or Gragg, the line should avoid some of the problems it experienced last season, and produce some semblance of the down-hill power running game we have witnessed in years prior to this.

Sixth - The inner competition on this team will continue to make everyone better. Having the starting running back position contested should make Barlow and Hicks each work harder. Last year the young quarterbacks and receivers practiced together year around. Expect the same to occur this year. If the 49ers draft a quarterback, expect Rattay to do everything in his power to keep him on the bench.

Seventh - While all teams have injuries, most teams do not lose their franchise player, two starting cornerbacks, and best pass-rusher for significant portions of the season. With Plummer, Rumph, and Spencer back, the only thing missing in the secondary is a safety with the size of a linebacker and the speed of a corner who can lay people out. Rumph might be able to fill that role. With Isaac Sopoaga and Brandon Whiting returning from injury, the depth on our defensive line should be better than ever, and may improve even more in the draft.

Eighth - The cap situation is clearing up. The 49ers may not be able to sign many free agents this year, but they should have the cap space to resign their own. Furthermore, they may get a bargain on Andre Carter, who has ties to the Bay Area, and is having a poor year in terms of production (partially due to injury). The rest of the draft class - Winborn, Barlow, Cedrick Wilson, and Eric Johnson - has already been resigned.

These reasons combine to make this one of the more exciting off-seasons in recent memory. A new coach with a track record of coordinating success at the NFL level, the opportunity to load up on quality draft picks, and the gradual clearing of cap space should enable us to make the jump back to respectability. But it all starts with a new coach.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Peter King betting a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo can hold off 49ers rookie Trey Lance

By David Bonilla
20 hrs ago

Peter King of NBC Sports — and everyone else really — is giving Jimmy Garoppolo a lot of credit this offseason for saying and doing all the right things, even as his team brought in his replacement. Garoppolo has been the unchallenged starter since his first game appearance after being traded from New England to San Francisco in 2017. He was seen as the quarterback of the future, and in the ensuing offseason, was handed a contract that solidified that. Three years later, his successor is on the roster. The 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall to select Trey Lance of North Dakota State. Understandably, Garoppolo wasn't happy about the decision. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have been honest with their veteran



2021 Schedule Tracker: 49ers open season with back-to-back road games vs. Lions, Eagles

By David Bonilla
May 12, 2021

The NFL will unveil the league's complete 272-game 2021 schedule on Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m. PT. It is common for select week-to-week opponent matchups to leak before the official announcement. I've created this tracker to collect those leaks as the official schedule release time approaches. Update: The complete schedule has been released and can be found here. The San Francisco 49ers will meet each NFC West team twice, as they do each year. The team will also face the entire NFC North and AFC South divisions and this past season's last-place opponents from the NFC South and NFC East — the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia



49ers' Kyle Shanahan shares thoughts on 17-game season

By David Bonilla
11 hrs ago

The NFL is moving to a 272-game regular season this year, which means each team will have 17 games on its schedule, one more from previous seasons. For the San Francisco 49ers, it will mean the addition of a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. Last year, during negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL players pushed to prevent the expansion of the regular season. However, they eventually gave in, giving the league the option to add to the schedules. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledges that the prevalent feeling around the league is that an added game for each team could be overwhelming. The season was too long as it was. However, the writing has been on the walls, so it didn't take anyone by surprise. "I



Will Raheem Mostert be on the 49ers roster for the 2021 season?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 14, 2021

The main draft news for the San Francisco 49ers from the 2021 NFL Draft was their selection of quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick, leaving Jimmy Garoppolo's future with the team in question However, a number of running back selections have made the same conundrum for the incumbent starter out of the backfield, Raheem Mostert. When Mostert was brought onto the 49ers, he had previously been cut six times and was an unknown commodity. However, development and schemes have helped Mostert flourish, securing him his second contract in 2019: a three-year, $8.7 million


Featured

More by Brett Pahler

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone