Patience Will Be Key To Draft

Apr 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM


Diane Wong. The name rings true to my ears like nails on a chalkboard. Nice girl. Just a tad misguided to think that I would want to listen to a three hour demonstration on cutlery, from her of all people, on a trip home from college.

But alas, a classic marketing example of not knowing one's audience. Had Diane known anything about me, she would have realized that I don't cook, rarely eat tough meat, and would rather saw through a steak with a butter knife than invite her into my home for any reason, let alone to drone on about cutlery for hours.

How does this relate to the 49ers, you ask? Is Scot McLoughan going to show up at your doorstep pushing Vector knives? I sure hope not. But the fact remains that the 49ers, like any business, should have some grasp of the expectations of their fan base.

What does the typical 49ers fan want to walk away with next season? It would be nice if Alex Smith played like Ben Roethlisberger, Rashaun Woods turned into Anquan Boldin, and the defense became the Ravens-West. But is this what we expect? No.

Most fans will look for measurable progress. Given Nolan's expertise on the defensive side of the ball, fans will want to see the defense improve to middle of the pack. Free safety has been a sore spot for a while; maybe we could fill that void. We may not have the talent to dominate offenses, but we should at least be disruptive. We should have good game plans to take offenses out of rhythm. We want to see the hustle and effort of a unit that takes pride in defending its end zone. Maybe teams will still score, but it shouldn't be easy.

Second, the offense doesn't have to be good, just functional. The offensive line should give the rest of the offense time to do its job. Barlow should have a few holes. Woods, Battle, and Hamilton should be on the field much more than last year, even if we sign Boston, and look comfortable with the offense.

But most importantly, we don't need to force our rookie quarterback to play before he's ready. If Aaron Rodgers will be the better pro in three years, take him, but if Alex Smith is the better long-term prospect, there's no need to draft Rodgers just because he is more polished right now. 49ers fans still remember the Rattay who played against Pittsburg on Monday night two years ago and against the Rams the following week. Most 49ers fans believe that Rattay's 78.1 passer rating, which ranked ahead of Carson Palmer, Joey Harrington, Drew Bledsoe, and nine other starters, would improve significantly given proper protection, a running game, and even average receivers. Most 49ers fans don't believe that Rattay is the long-term solution, but most believe that he is plenty good to hold the quarterback position for a year while Alex Smith learns the system and adds some bulk.

Nolan and company want to make a splash, but most 49ers fans do not expect a playoff push this year. We want steady improvement over the next three years. 6-10 next year suits us just fine, followed by 8-8, followed by 10-6.

York is concerned about season tickets. Nolan wants to put a new face on the franchise. Neither will accomplish their goal if they try to sell us on a quick-fix rather than taking the time to develop the best overall prospect.
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.


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