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!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

D-Line The Focus Now With Hill Signed

The Niners recently agreed to a three-year contract with former third-string quarterback Shaun Hill, who won consecutive starts last season after the ineffectual duo of Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer succumbed to injuries. The contract is believed to be worth $6 million, with incentives that could boost its value to $11.5 million -- hardly a blockbuster deal, but one that clearly signals the end of Smith's tenure as San Francisco's undisputed starter. But while some dare to envision a future blissfully divorced from the most visible cog in an offense that ranked last in the league in an assortment of critical categories last season, the team must now address the futures of its remaining free agents, starting with defensive linemen Marques Douglas and Isaac Sopoaga.

With the Tennessee Titans having slapped the franchise tag on Albert Haynesworth and the Niners eager to plug the hole created by the retirement of four-time Pro Bowler and 14-year mainstay Bryant Young, (above), the presence of veterans like Douglas and Sopoaga could help stabilize the line play on a team in need of an extreme makeover on both sides of the ball. But at what cost?

Douglas, (left) who has ranked among the league's most consistent tackle contributors during his three-year tenure with the 49ers, recorded 71 takedowns last season -- 55 solo -- to complement his three sacks. And though Mike Nolan is reportedly delighted with the ninth-year pro's work ethic, questions linger about his long-term future with a rebuilding franchise. Douglas, who will turn 31 next month, has made no secret of his desire to stay with the club, calling San Francisco "a home away from home." But the North Carolina native, whose sack totals could never be confused with those of an elite lineman, just finished a three-year, $4.5 million deal, and will likely be seeking a substantial raise. Will he be worth the money on a team still clawing its way toward respectability?

The Niners face another difficult decision with Sopoaga, 26, a part-time nose tackle blessed with uncommon strength and potential who has yet to assert himself as a front-line starter. In four years with the team -- the first of which was cut short by a season-ending back injury suffered in training camp -- his production has remained maddeningly inconsistent, but a new, more lucrative deal would seem to guarantee him an expanded role on San Francisco's defensive line. Should newly appointed general manager Scot McCloughan gamble on talent that is not yet fully developed, or should he be prepared to watch Sopoaga sign for big money elsewhere?

The 49ers would prefer to bring back both linemen, and are reportedly negotiating with them in good faith. Just don't expect both to return, even as they pledge their allegiance to Niner Nation. With premium free agents like Haynesworth disappearing from the market, Sopoaga's price tag is surely rising while Douglas becomes increasingly attractive to contenders in need of dependable leadership on their D-lines. If McCloughan has serious doubts about either's ability to contribute to the Niners in the not-too-distant future, when the rebuilding process presumably begins to yield dividends, he should resist the urge to overspend and let them walk.

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