The San Francisco 49ers‘ mantra is “You are getting better or you are getting worse. You do not stay the same”.
With that in mind, the 49ers have gotten better at some positions and worse at others, just like every other team in the NFL. The key is to get better every year at as many positions as possible. The only way for the 49ers to get better this year is if they win the Super Bowl. In part two of our two-part series, we see where the 49ers have gotten better this offseason.
Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree emerged last year as the player we all thought he should be when he was drafted 10th overall in 2009. Now as the established #1 receiver, the 49ers have had some trouble finding a solid #2. With players such as Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Braylon Edwards signed to be the #2 receiver since Jim Harbaugh took over, it has been a revolving door at the position.
Enter Anquan Boldin to take over that position. After an amazing playoffs, Boldin has been a 49er killer in his career. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The Niners have question marks with injuries to Kyle Williams and Manningham and the uncertain future of former first-round pick AJ Jenkins. San Francisco also used a fourth-round pick on Quinton Patton who can immediately step in as the third receiver. This position, along with the maturation of Colin Kaepernick, should lead to an improved passing game.
Pass Rush – Contrary to popular belief, the secondary was not the problem on the 49ers’ defense in the playoffs, it was the pass rush. After Justin Smith injured his triceps in the victory over the New England Patriots, the 49ers gave up a lot of points and yards throughout the playoffs. General Manager Trent Baalke showed that he was more concerned with pass rush than the secondary, after drafting Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier in the second and third-rounds, respectively. With a healthy Smith and Parys Haralson along with rotational players in their rookie years in Carradine and Lemonier, the 49ers are now flush with pass rushers. QBs beware of this improved 49ers defense.
Depth – The 49ers have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL, but they have been top-heavy with little rotation from reserve players this past year. A minimal rotation on the defensive line wore out Smith and Ray McDonald, but after selecting 11 players in the draft and being savvy in free agency, the 49ers are now deep at almost every position. More rotation will allow better contribution from every player on the roster, and making the 53 man roster will be the fiercest competition in the NFL.