. . . and the Sun Sets on the 2011 Season . . .

Well, but for the painful way this season came to a sudden and grinding halt, this was a truly epic run by this band of 49ers. Offensively, most areas of the team improved dramatically. Alex Smith went from the bottom 10 in the league to the top 8. He dramatically cut down his turnovers and interceptions. He led the furious comeback in the NO game to cement his lasting impression on a hugely successful season. The O line improved, after some mid-season setbacks. Frank Gore had another strong year, despite being banged up (and according to some, washed up). Rookie Kendall Hunter had a great year as Gore’s back-up/give-Frank-a-rest guy. Bruce Miller was a godsend as the converted DE turned FB. His blocking for Frank made everyone forget about Moran (whiff) Norris. Nice wheel route as well. TE was improved as well. VD had a strong season, mainly because of the WR situation. His yards were down, but his catches were up compared to 2010, as he became Smith’s go-to guy. He had some struggles with his hands and feet, but in the end was the biggest reason for the near Super Bowl berth. Delanie Walker had a great season going until the broken jaw. Both were beasts blocking downfield for the run game.

The area that was abysmal was the WR corps. The big blows were Joshua Morgan getting injured in garbage time of the TB game, and Braylon Edwards’ knee injuries in the preseason, and early in the Dallas game. This seemed to start the domino effect of ineffectiveness from this bunch. Michael Crabtree’s numbers have steadily improved since he got here, but I never get the sense that he’s fully engaged in the game. The Saints game and this last one were flat awful from a guy who’s supposed to be the #1 WR. 4 catches and 3 drops in the Saints game, and 1 catch in the Giants game aren’t very impressive. He seems to not bother turning for the ball when he isn’t the #1 option. Hot reads elude his comprehension. With Edwards’ injury and subsequent ineffectiveness, guys like Ted Ginn and Brett Swain (and other no-names) were added to the WR list, but they were varying shades of nothing. Ginn of course shines as a PR/KR, but his pass catching is not his strong suit. All in all, it was pretty amazing that Smith had the season he had without much in the WR department. The strange thing to me is that the ineffectiveness from this group never seemed to be a big concern to Jim Harbaugh. There were guys like Houshmanzada and Lloyd ( and others) who could have walked in and been effective. This is a BIG area for improvement this offseason.

I think someone like DeSean Jackson would be a welcome addition to a group that is vastly underperforming. There are plenty of draftable guys. Jerius Wright is a speedster who could be had in the 3rd or 4th round. And countless free agents.

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About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers and SF Giants fan
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42 Responses to . . . and the Sun Sets on the 2011 Season . . .

  1. unca_chuck says:

    From WalterFootball.The top 20 free agent WRs:
    1. Mike Wallace (RFA), WR, Steelers. Age: 26.
    Mike Wallace is one of the top deep threats in football. The Steelers won’t let him get away.

    2. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs. Age: 27.
    Dwayne Bowe is a dynamic talent and one of the better receivers in the NFL. His production is remarkable considering the mediocre quarterbacks he’s worked with throughout his professional career.

    3. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers, Chargers. Age: 29.
    Vincent Jackson amazingly has never caught more than 68 passes in a single season, but with his size (6-5, 230) and downfield ability, he’s one of the top physical talents at the wide receiver position in the NFL.

    4. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots. Age: 31.
    The top slot receiver in the NFL, Wes Welker is due for a big contract. He still has a few great years left.

    5. Steve Johnson, WR, Bills. Age: 26.
    If Steve Johnson were as strong mentally as he is physically, he would be one of the top receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, he has way too many drops in key moments and acts like a clown on the field.

    6. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams. Age: 31.
    A legitimate No. 1 receiver, Brandon Lloyd has announced that he’ll follow Josh McDaniels wherever he goes. That’s a smart football decision, as Lloyd has thrived under McDaniels the past two seasons.

    7. Marques Colston, WR, Saints. Age: 29.
    Marques Colston’s numbers are awesome, but there are two issues here. First, is he just a product of New Orleans’ system? And second, if he’s willing to take more money to play for a bad team, that’ll speak volumes about his priorities. Just ask the Seahawks how they feel about Sidney Rice.

    8. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Age: 25.
    DeSean Jackson was pretty overrated until he started dropping passes and running half-hearted routes in the middle of the season. The threat of Jackson burning teams deep still has an impact on the game, but if lazy coaches would realize that the quick wideout has been pretty mediocre since suffering a second concussion against the Texans last year, they wouldn’t respect him as much.

    9. Mario Manningham, WR, Giants. Age: 26.
    Mario Manningham is a talented, young receiver who caught 60 balls for 944 yards in 2010. His stats were down this past season because of a nagging knee injury.

    10. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts. Age: 33.
    Reggie Wayne turns 34 in November. He might still be able to get it done as a No. 2 receiver somewhere next year – perhaps wherever Peyton Manning lands. I’m sure both the Redskins and Jets would be happy with the pair.

    11. Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts. Age: 26.
    Pierre Garcon is fast, but is also unreliable because he drops too many passes. Still, he had some big games with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky at quarterback, so teams know he’s not just a product of the system.

    12. Laurent Robinson, WR, Cowboys. Age: 27.
    Laurent Robinson was finally able to stay healthy, and he consequently had the best year of his career, catching 54 balls for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a key contributor when Miles Austin-Jones went down, so Jerry Jones will make a strong effort to re-sign him. Robinson is injury-prone though, so Jerry better not go crazy.

    13. Robert Meachem, WR, Saints. Age: 27.
    It’s frustrating, but Robert Meachem has never lived up to his potential. He has talent, but it appears as though he’s destined to be a mediocre wideout for his entire career.

    14. Danny Amendola (RFA), WR, Rams. Age: 26.
    Sam Bradford’s favorite receiver, Danny Amendola missed most of 2011 because of torn triceps. He’ll bounce back as a solid slot receiver next year.

    15. Ted Ginn, WR/KR, 49ers. Age: 27.
    Ted Ginn stinks as a receiver, but he’s one of the top return specialists in the NFL.

    16. Eric Weems, WR/KR, Falcons. Age: 27.
    Eric Weems scored two special-teams touchdowns in 2010, but couldn’t find the end zone this past season. However, he was still effective on returns, maintaining solid averages in both punt and kick returns.

    17. Deion Branch, WR, Patriots. Age: 33.
    Deion Branch is worth much more to the Patriots than he is to anyone else. He knows the system, and Tom Brady loves throwing to him.

    18. Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers. Age: 27.
    Josh Morgan looked like he was on his way to having a solid year, catching 15 balls for 220 yards in five games, but he went on injured reserve with a broken leg.

    19. Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals. Age: 26.
    Jerome Simpson had that acrobatic touchdown in Week 16, but was otherwise really inconsistent. He’s still young though, and the talent is unquestionably there. Unfortunately, his alleged drug connections downgrade him.

    20. Eddie Royal, WR/PR, Broncos. Age: 26.
    Eddie Royal has inexplicably completely regressed as a receiver, but he’s a pretty dynamic punt-returner.

    • Flavor says:

      this is a great, in-depth analysis and I appreciate the time you took to do this. I still don’t have any interest in any of them (except maybe the injury prone Morgan at a big discount–his MAIN strength is blocking). See my 8:14pm post.

  2. unca_chuck says:

    These guys are down on DSJ, but fuck that. When he’s healthy and happy, he’s one of the bigger threats out there. Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham, Wes Welcker, and Marquez Colston aren’t going anywhere. Deion Branch and Reggie Wayne are a little long in the tooth. Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson are a little too Ocho Stinko for my taste. Lower tier guys include Laurent Robinson and Danny Amendola. Either of them would be able to step in and produce, but they will probably stick with their current teams as well. The others (Weems, Ginn, Royal, Meachem) are varying shades of Ted Ginn. Especially Ginn. They are STers who would be down the depth chart at WR.

    I wonder how much Dwayne Bowe would cost us. He’s toiling in relative obscurity out there in KC. He has no QB to speak of, but still has impressive skills. DSJ is certainly worth a look. Andy Reid certainly isn’t going to go out of his way to understand what a player is going through. And DSJ went out to lunch because of it. Just ask David Akers. Reid’s throwing Akers under the bus while his 6 year old daugher was diagnosed and being treated for ovarian cancer is about as disgusting as it gets.

    So, my take would be to re-sign Morgan, try to get Bowe, bring DSJ in, and draft a couple low round guys. There are a ton more FAs like Early Doucet, Mark Clayton, Roy Williams, Steve Smith, etc. who cam be brought in and looked at. The point being, WR should be a pretty big priority. At least as far as the offense goes.

  3. snarkk says:

    When you think of FA WRs weighing a contract with SF, you have to factor in not just money, but the opportunity here. Sure, they have to figure the cupboard is bare, so they’d be highlighted, but look who is the QB. Alex had a coming out party season, but he still, rightly so, is not considered a top QB. Was the Saints game a portent of things to come, or his zenith? The Giants game woes give pause as to who he really is. If I’m a young FA WR thinking of how this next contract and stats will impact my next next contract, I have to carefully think of whether I’m going to get a lot of catchable balls in this Niner offense, given Harbaugh’s offensive mind set and Alex’ limitations….

  4. unca_chuck says:

    Well, I don’t think there’s a chance f them going crazy and signing a guy like Bowe, Manningham or Colston. But there are enough guys out there that would have to give it a thought, seeing how for this team got without any real wideouts. Smith or not, the team aspect has to be intriguing for WRs out there who would get a immediately get shot at going to the playoffs and beyond.

    Like the SF Giants trying to sign a power hitter . . . You have to weigh the overall talent of the team, and the possibility of a Super Bowl (or World Series) in your immediate future, as opposed to personal numbers.

    • snarkk says:

      Come on Chuck. The NFL is all about the Benjamins. These WRs know they could get hurt and career ended at any time. They look for where they can get the most guaranteed dough up front, and how they can pad their stats so that the next contract is as big as possible. If I’m a WR with any brains, the thought of Alex overthrowing and underthrowing me, combined with Harbaugh’s conservative style and use of TEs, doesn’t excite me much — even with a Super Bowl quality defense that should have the team in playoff contention for the next several years…

  5. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah, yeah. I’m sure there will be SOME interest out there from this crop of FAs.

  6. unca_chuck says:

    I mean someone who can get open would be a nice thing. Crabs certainly doesn’t do that very much.

  7. Kevin says:

    I would like to see Walker get used more like Tom Rathman was used, catching passes and running on short yardage plays. Yes some WR’s would be nice. A full training camp with Alex to see if was the current WR group that was so bad or if Alex just can’t get the ball deep accurately. That is really what needs to be determined. If Alex cannot get the ball deep accurately then the Niners need to start grooming Colin or draft another QB in 2013

  8. unca_chuck says:

    They sort of have Miller to be the H back. I’m sure he’ll get more reps catching passes out of the backfield. As far as the WRs go, for all the games I’ve seen, and the footage on TV, I don’t see the WRs getting open very much. Morgan was pretty good at getting open AND catching the ball. Crabs barely looks for the ball. Ginn can get open with his speed, but has hands of stone. Williams just didn’t get open enough. The rest aren’t NFL quality. They need to try to keep Morgan for continuity’s sake, and to teach the draftees. Keep Ginn for PR/KR duties, and get a whole new crop of guys through the draft and FA.

    There’s always TO:

    http://tinyurl.com/6m2sxj7

    Ouch . . .

    • phil fan says:

      TO, what a case! So much could be said- too much- so I’ll let it pass and move on to “What’s the future for the 9ers at WR?” That’s a good discusson we’re having.

      Painful to read about TO though…

    • snarkk says:

      Fuck TO. The guy earned $80 million and he’s nearly broke? He owes $45K/month in child support for 4 kids to 4 separate mothers? I have no pity for him. None. No, wait. I have less than none, if that is possible, and I think it is. Yes, negative infinite pity for this tool….

      • phil fan says:

        Well snarkk I guess yer Childhood was a hella lot better than TOs. I don;t know the facts but the way he acted it was shit. The way youse seem, prolly not so bad. I hope for yer sake man!

        I will not agree to ‘fuck’ TO. He fucked us true. He fucked a lotta people true (4 kids wow) that’s a lotta fuckin’! I do have pity for him= he was dealt a shitty hand and he played a shitty hand = it was shit. Was it all HIS FAULT? No. IS HE BLAMELESS? No.

        Way it sounds (I’ll look it up if you want?) this is one talented, angry man. He got fucked early and he took it out on many. So I’m gonna ‘fuck’ this guy? Naw he’s been well fucked already. Have at it snarkk…..

      • snarkk says:

        Phil, if you want to pity poor TO, go ahead.
        My childhood wasn’t bad, it was probably better than TO’s. So what?
        Anybody, anybody that has 4 kids with 4 women and not one is a wife gets no pity from me, nor anybody that blows $80 million in less than a decade. I’ll leave you and TO to hold a pity party for him. Don’t invite Jeff Garcia, he won’t RSVP anyway…

      • phil fan says:

        Yeah snarkk I will but it won’t be a pity party w/ TO. It will be, and is, a discussion here about understanding how talented (football players) are sometimes channeling their pain and anger into some kind of productive outlet: football,boxing, politics -sure, right- productivity of some sort. This is reality, it happens often and that is positive. Case in point is Terrell Owens. Is it okay to have 4 different women bear your 4 children and not be able to pay for their support? No.That’s pretty sad, I agree. Is the answer just to ‘fuck him’ as you propose? No it is not. How will that help????

        Owens does not help his cause by recklessly destroying relationships both personal and professional while trusting ‘professional’ strangers with his money. This a recipe for disaster and disaster is what he has created. No argument there my friend. This news I see as a ‘cry for help’ from TO. Is it too late? Yeah prolly, I will be amazed if this ends well in any way shape or form….

        So what’s the answer? Fuck him as you suggest (insist)? Yeah right but I do understand your reaction. Frankly the chances of TO “getting it” are slim given he has long ago lost trust in others and himself. People don’t change voluntarily without enormous motivation. Is it too late for TO? Yeah prolly but no way in hell snarkk am I gonna “fuck him”. No way in fucking hell!

  9. twinfan1 says:

    Smith hit Davis with all manner of throws in the postseason- mostly deep routes. And he was not being covered by linebackers. It should be obvious that the problem is the wideouts, not the QB . And, what receiver would want to come to a beautiful city, with a great young coach, and a QB who led them to the Championship game, with over a hundred QBR rating in the playoffs. Did you watch the games, boys? The guy with the deep throws was Alex. Look- this isn’t the lockout when it could be said they had no choice- York wants him, Harbaugh does. he’ll be back. Live with it, Snarkkles..

    • phil fan says:

      Right QBs,etc want to play for specifically Harbaugh because he builds teams as well as QBs. A good FO and good owner add to the appeal to be followed by a new stadium. 14-4, into NFC title game doesn’t hurt one bit for prospective FAs looking around. Rogers has nothing bad to say about the 9ers:”What’s not to like; I like it all”.

      49ers would be nutz not to resign Alex

  10. unca_chuck says:

    Alex Smith’s 101.2 in the playoffs (5TDs, o picks) is nothing to smeer at as well . . .

  11. Kevin says:

    My comment covered the WR’s and Alex. obviouly the WR’s were the problem and the lack of an experienced punt return man.

  12. Alleykat says:

    Harbaugh is not about to fuck with team chemstry and sign a “Malcontent Cancer to the Team”Desean Jackson, Chuck.

    • Nipper says:

      True.

    • unca_chuck says:

      I think DSJ would thrive under a coach like Harbaugh.

      Christ, Harbaugh hasn’t strangled Crabtree yet. You know, the guy who wouldn’t even acknolwedge the existence or utter the name of his quarterback when the season started.

      • phil fan says:

        We’ll see, hope yer right Chuck. Serious maybe the Harbaugh Niners will have the ability to reclaim = get playas to give their very best to his team. That would be great and JH certainly has the confidence and ability to do that. Will he with many playas? Dunno, gonna stay tuned…

  13. unca_chuck says:

    The thing is, the year was still a shake-down run for Harbaugh. I really think he didn’t want to get rid of too many guys, unless there was a viable back up. Like Bowman for Lawson, or McDonald/Soap for Franklin. WR was thin to begin with. Same with safety. Now that the season went like it did, the 2 biggest casualties will be Crabtree and Goldson.

    Goldson’s contract is up, and he wants a big payday. I don;t see the Niners going that route. I see them moving Culliver to FS. With Tarell Brown’s play being very good, and Rogers flat spectacular play, they can afford to move Culliver and lose Goldson. WRs shouldn’t be too hard to come by in the draft and FA.

  14. Kevin says:

    Yahoo Sports has a Terrell Owens whoa is me article, with excerpts from his GQ article. poor Terrell, he made $80 in his NFL carreer and now he claims he is broke and living in an 1800 sq foot apartment.
    oops let me wipe that tear from my eye.

  15. Alleykat says:

    Chuck….. I’m all in if the Niners could land Colston.He’s a Big time reciever with SIZE at 6’3 225 able to break a tackle and get the extra YAC.I am still ok with Crabs he does have good hands and decent enough size and was outstanding in college,and has improved every year.But just go after the Calvin Johnson ,Colston Size Players in the future.Not be left going to the championship game with Puny little no name Shremps like the hippie Swain and Joe Blow Hastings both wasting a playoff spot being out there.

    And totally forget Brandon Lloyd….I was lucky enough to be in the Niners parking lot back in 05, It was Alex Smith first start as a pro against Indy,had my old school Niner Jacket that spells out Forty Niners on the back.Got to shoot the breeze with Alex and Bryant Young,Newberry,Spopaga,Derek Smith,Kevan Barlow who got me and my wif
    P

  16. Alleykat says:

    Shit hit the post by mistake….Anyway what i was trying to say was,I got over 20 Niners to sign my jacket.Except Prima Dona Brandon Lloyd who blew by every fan with his fuckin Posse of degenerates .Even his teamates said he can be a jerk.What was cool was Newberry was BBQ chicken and ribs with Cody Pickett and Ken Dorsey,David Baas,Snyder,Andre Carter,it was a blast hanging out with all of them.

  17. unca_chuck says:

    Colston isn’t going anywhere.

  18. unca_chuck says:

    Lloyd wouldn’t have been a long term solution. Just a guy to help this season when we had little to nothing from the wideouts.

    • phil fan says:

      Mighta been real nice in 4th and OT tho… As much as I bitch about Harbaugh wasting J Morgan I think the royal fuck up was not replacing Braylon E with a proven NFL receiver. Hastings, Swain? Huh? Not good.. Doubt JH or TB will make this mistake again…

  19. Flavor says:

    I am 110% against signing a big name free agent receiver for the same reason I’m against signing a big name free agent baseball player. Don’t fucking be one of the dumbasses who pays through the nose for what someone did on the back of their baseball card. In football it’s even worse with the risk of injury and/or a steep player decline curve.
    Identify the receivers you want in the draft and just draft more of them than you were planning on drafting. Cast a wide net. It’s the fucking only area on the team that is a black hole. Shit, draft 7 of them if you have to……..

    • snarkk says:

      I’m there with you BF. They can basically do nothing in the off season on defense, and they’re cool. The offense has been shit for a decade, it is high time it is seriously upgraded in the skill positions. Get 4 wideouts via draft and/or FAs.. Trade Crabby for a 3rd or 4th round pick or something, just time to bail on him. Keep VD and Walker and Morgan. Adios to KWilliams, thanks for coming, and blowing it. Keep Ginn only for returns, he has manos de piedra. Draft a breakaway RB that is big enough to run inside a bit — Gore is in serious decline, and Hunter isn’t an every down replacement. Get that done, they’re good to go, along with a vet QB to put Alex’ feet to the fire. Earlier I said give Alex a 3 year deal, but I’ve changed my mind. After his lackluster performance against the Giants, it’s 2 years and an option, that’s enough. Nobody else will want him…

    • phil fan says:

      For next year fine, agree. However for the recently terminated, & abruptly so, season TB/JH walked into the playoffs blinded by ?? and the result was we had no pass catchers apart from VD. This is a management/coaching issue perhaps helped along by the bias (?) of Harbaugh against (?) WRs. Dunno but there it was and it destroyed our season. Don’t get me wrong getting beat in OT in the NFC title game ain’t so shabby, not complaining. Will it get fixed? Yes. Was it ignored/over looked this year? Yes it was. The result was a more balanced team beat us at the Stick. Shit the ’81 Niners with Solomon, Clark, et. al has better receivers than the ’11 9ers.

      You think Walsh woulda put up Crabtree’s baloney? Guy that plays like he doesn’t care if we win? Rally??

  20. Kevin says:

    Have to agree with Flav’s post about don’t pay some over hyped WR FA. Yeah just draft more of them. Jerry Rice out of Miss?? I think that there was only one other team looking at him. Scouting can make or break a team also. You have to send those scouts out to do their jobs!!

    • unca_chuck says:

      Kevin, Walsh traded up in front of Dallas to get Rice. Dallas wanted him in a big way. Dallas had no idea that Rice was on Walsh’s radar.

      As far as FA WRs go, there’s about 75 guys that could be had on the cheap. Guys that are better than what we got.

      Plus, we are likely losing Goldson (although I think Culliver takes his FS spot). Rogers needs to be signed. Brooks may go as well. There’s a lot of stuff for this FO to take care of.

  21. twinfan1 says:

    Wide Receivers are always the deepest postion in the draft.As far as Crabtree, he was pretty disconsolate with his play. And I absolutey don’t see them trading him.

  22. Kevin says:

    I forgot about the fact it was Dallas looking at Rice, so yeah FO and Scouts need to be on it.

  23. unca_chuck says:

    NEW POST NEW POST NEW POST

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