The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Better "Safety" Than Sorry

With so many new faces in the 49ers secondary this year, the question going into this season seems to be, where does everybody fit in? It's a nice problem to have, for once, actually having NFL calibur talent at safety for the Niners and it will help greatly with their chances to improve their record even further this year. None of these guys will be challenging that guy named Lott for a spot as the greatest safety in team and league history, but let's have a look at each of them and where they should end up on the depth chart.

Last season, former special teams warrior Keith Lewis (left) stepped into the starting lineup at free safety and finished with 72 tackles, two interceptions and a sack. He also carried a special teams attitude into the defensive backfield. His partner at strong safety was Mark Roman, who had 105 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

The problem was, the 49ers surrendered 3,571 passing yards and ranked 26th in the league in total defense. They were also 25th in takeaways.

That's why the team grabbed Michael Lewis during free agency. A full-season starter with Philadelphia in 2005 (piling up an eye-catching 141 tackles), Lewis found himself splitting time with Sean Considine as the Eagles' strong safety last year. This demotion occurred after he was undressed on long passes in consecutive weeks by Terry Glenn of the Cowboys and Joe Horn of the Saints. Yet few safeties can play the run better than the husky (6-foot-1, 226 pounds) University of Colorado product, who came to San Francisco in part to be reunited with his former Colorado Buffaloes' position coach, Vance Joseph. Lewis also moved to the Bay Area to work out during the offseason, pronouncing himself stronger than last year.

Those were probably the deciding factors leading to Michael Lewis being anointed the front-runner at strong safety going into summer drills. Roman has been switched to free safety, the position he played in college and one better suited for his speed and lighter frame. Keith Lewis is now Roman's backup, although head coach Mike Nolan calls that position wide open for competition. And if Michael Lewis doesn't start at strong safety, the other Lewis probably will.

And then there's Darnell Bing, retrieved from the Oakland Raiders ' scrap heap. Another brute of a DB at 6-2, 220, Bing was on injured reserve last season across the Bay, so he has to be considered an unknown. Donald Strickland and Dashon Goldson (right) should also push for playing time.

The question is, Can Michael Lewis' emphatic tackling overcome his occasional lapses at the back end of his coverage area? Or will the addition of Nate Clements at cornerback offer less possibility of leaving Michael exposed on a one-on-one island against one of the league's whippets?

We'll have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure. There is a lot more talent in the defensive backfield going into 2007, than there has been in about 10 years. Things can only get better from here.

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