41 days and counting to til the 49ers start camp, although there is a rookie OTA type thing next week. LaMichael James has his last final yesterday, so he can finally participate in something these next few days. As it is, though, everyone is out of town for the next month until July 26th rolls around. Harbaugh himself is off to Peru today for a week to help build houses with a Catholic church down there. No rest for the weary, eh?
Since we are in speculation mode (and have a month to kill), what the hell? I’m picking the 49ers to win the NFC. This schedule is tougher than last year’s, but I sure didn’t see much improvement from the teams around them.
That being said, Green Bay is likely the biggest threat to the Niners going to the Super Bowl. And that is Game One. On the road. The Frozen Tundra. Title Town, USA. Blah Blah Blah. At least it’s September, not January. If we need to go back in January, so be it. The annoying thing is, in 2 of the past 3 seasons, the Niners have played Green Bay in Green Bay (they came here last in 2006), and again, the Niners go there.
Anyhow, not surprisingly, GB used their first 6 out of 8 picks on defense. They used their first pick on a sleeper-type pass rushing DE/OLB (sound familiar?) in Nick Perry out of USC. My hope is he continues the pattern of being the usual overhyped shitty draft pick out of the University of Spoiled Children. The rest of their picks went DT/CB/DE/SS/ILB with a couple compensatory picks at the end (OT and QB). BJ Coleman is expected to take Matt Flynn’s spot on the QB depth chart. Good luck with that BJ.
GB obviously saw their major weaknesses, and that was pass rush/pass coverage, so they loaded up there. Still and all, a challenge for them to improve their defense with one draft (I know. Don’t mention Bill Walsh’s 1981 draft). Their O? Well, they look good there with Chico’s own Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson tearing up the passing lanes. However, Donald Driver’s getting old and may not come back. Jerwhatshisname Findley is a little underwhelming, but they are the class of the NFL in passing offense. Their run game? Well, they don’t use it much, and it got weaker with the loss of Ryan Grant (559 yards), and the non-awe-inspiring James (578 yards) Starks. Their only big FA acquisition was the addition of Jeff Saturday (age 37) as their center.
As the NY Giants showed though, pressure Rodgers, slow down the aerial assault, and you can beat the Pack. One-dimensional teams may fly through the regular season, but in the playoffs, your shortcomings are exposed. GB was torched for 325 yard in the air, and committed 4 turnovers (2 picks). The Niners upgraded their secondary by signing miscreant Perrish Cox in a direct response to the arsenal of pass-happy QBs they face this season. Beyond Rodgers, the Niners play Brady, Stafford, Bradford (2x), E Manning, Brees, and Flynn (2x) among others. Goldson continues to seek out a big payday, but he’s pretty much guaranteed himself a seat on the bench or sidelines at this point. The Niners have enough talent to absorb his absense or burial on the depth chart. Our Rogers, Whitner, Culliver, and T Brown look to pick up right where they left off last year.
Pass rush is king in Ninerland, though. A strong pass rush creates a lot of those interceptions. The +28 in turnovers last year may or may not happen again (don;t count on it), but Aldon Smith has a full TC to work through, Bowman and Willis have another year to build on together, and the relentless Justin Smith show no signs of slowing down or backing off. The rotation of interior linemen appears stronger than last year with the emergence of Demarcus Dobbs and the return of injured Wil Tukafu to complement Ice Sopoaga and Ray McDonald. 7th round draft pick Cam Johnson could very well be a steal.