Be still my heart. The defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers officially kick off the 2013 season today. Once again, they are in a position to avenge a crushing last-minute defeat to finish out their season. 2 years ago it was a heart-breaking loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in the NFC CG. Last year, of course was the stalled drive on the 6 yard line to close out the Super Bowl. Certainly motivation isn’t an issue for these guys.
As teams go, the 49ers didn’t really retool the offense, but the biggest change was due to the blown out achilles of erstwhile #1 WR, Michael Crabtree. This made the Anquan Bouldin acquisition all the more important. Injuries still hamper the backup WRs Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams although they are supposedly close to resuming full practice mode, though they are both on the injured list as of now. Still, what was seen as a strong pair of wideouts with a couple solid backups has become a work in progress yet again. Crabs at best won’t see the field until early December, so one or two of the cast of rookies, castoffs, and underachievers has to step up. This includes Seattle castoff Chad Hall, Kappy Kaepernick’s offseason roommate, speedster Ricardo Lockette, doghouse dweller AJ Jenkins, 4th round pick Quintin Patton, and local guy Marlon Moore. TE will be manned by Vernon Davis and draftee Vance McDonald. VM will be tasked with coming up to speed as far as his blocking goes to really make his mark with the team. Fail there, and it’s Garrett Celek as the backup.
Defensively, it’s all about keeping the D line fresh. The Niners added Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial through the draft, and picked up Glen Dorsey. That being said, both Carradine and Dial have injuries to overcome. An ACL tear for Tank, and turf toe for Dial. They also drafted LB help by getting Cory Lemonier in the 3rd dound. The defensive backfield is in a bit of flux as well. After getting torched late in the season, and in the playoffs, Dashon Goldson and his huge salary demands were sent packing. The Niners obviously weren’t fine with the way things ended up as they have signed Nnamdi Asomugha and Craig Dahl, drafted safety Eric Reid, and will lean on the guys they have in Carlos Rogers, Tarrell Brown, Tremaine Brock, and Donte Whitner.
The failure of getting Eric Wright did nothing more than shed light on the fact that the Niners are looking to replace Rogers, whose $8.1 mill deal is the largest on the team. Truth be told, they may just go ahead and sign Wright once he’s cut by the Bucs and the dust settles.
Other than that, Kap’t Kappy Kaepernick comes in as the starting quarterback for the first time in his young career. He’s been putting in the hard work, but he’s also reaping the rewards of instant celebrity. Jaguar deals, breakout player of the year awards, and ESPN face time, along with all the hype that comes along with all this, will focus the spotlight on him much more than at any time in his life. He seems to have a fairly level head regarding his sudden cult of personality, but greater men have crumbled under the intense scrutiny of a fickle and demanding public. That being said, the battle rages on to back up Kappy. Scott Tolzien has pushed back successive waves of contenders, but now he has Colt McCoy gunning for his spot, and now 7th round pick BJ Daniels, the QB/RB?KR guy whose versatility may land him a spot on the roster.
All in all, the season couldn’t happen any faster, as the Giants appear to be slowly sinking in the NL West. Bring it on!