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 19, 2007

Halfway Point Of 49ers' Preseason - Updated Outlook

The 49ers had an opportunity last season to make it into the NFC playoffs, a year ahead of schedule, but faltered with home losses to the Packers and Cardinals. Still, the Niners ended the season on an encouraging note, knocking the Denver Broncos out of the playoffs with a stunning upset at Invesco Field.

The nucleus of the offense is so young, so Mike Nolan and Scot McCloughan devoted most of this off-season's attentions to improving the defense. They added, as we know, 5 probable starters in CB Nate Clements, SS Michael Lewis, NT Aubrayo Franklin, LB Tully Banta-Cain, and first round pick Patrick Willis. The defense has looked increasingly better from the first game to the second, even with 2nd and 3rd string subs on the field. The starters and back-ups alike showed consistancy and cohesiveness in their play, indicating that for the first time in a long time, defensive depth will be a strong point for this team.

QB Alex Smith showed promise last year improving on a horrible rookie season, and HB Frank Gore emerged as one of the league's top backs, leading the NFC in rushing with nearly 1,700 yards. Smith has looked sharp in limited action so far this preseason while Gore has not played after sustaining a broken hand during a non-contact drill on the second day of camp. Both players are expected to carry a huge load of responsibility for the team's success or failure this year, but Gore is the biggest deciding factor on how far this team can go. Smith will be greatly aided by an improved receiving corps, including Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Brandon Williams, Bryan Gilmore, rookie Jason Hill and TE Vernon Davis. All have participated well in preseason, but Gilmore and backup TE Delanie Walker have been the most impressive thus far.

The 49ers expect major improvements on both sides of the ball, which may enable them to snatch away the NFC West title that has recently belonged solely to the Seattle Seahawks. Partly because of their play, but partly because of weakened competition from the Rams, Cardinals and Niners. Look for that to change this year, and whether the Seahawks capture the division crown again or not, the divisional play should be better from all 4 clubs.

The club has made dramatic improvements since Nolan took over in 2005 after a dismal 2 -14 season under Dennis Erickson, whose clueless "leadership" led to the team's rock bottom demise, and should never have been hired in the first place. After winning 4 games in Nolan's first season, the Niners improved to 7 wins last year. They are definitely set up for another rise in the win column, and the future is very bright with the no-nonsense, well prepared Nolan. McCloughan has approached player contracts and the 49ers previously murky salary cap situation with the intention of keeping the team competitive and strong for a long time.

They've only played two preseason games, I know, and it is still really early. However, based on the look of the starters in limited play and the promise of depth from the reserves, there is every reason to feel that the predictions and excitment from after the draft and free agency still are valid. There are only a couple factors left to weigh before they get started for real. First, how will the offense look (minus Frank Gore, of course) for extended play this Saturday against the Bears vaunted defense. Second, can they escape the rest of the preseason without further injury to key starters.

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