2009-10 San Francisco 49ers Predictions
by Jay Horne - 8/22/2009
2008 Record: 7-9 (4-4 home, 3-5 away)
2008 Against the Spread: 7-8-1 (3-4-1 home, 4-4 away)
2008 Rankings: Offense 23rd Overall (13th pass, 27th away) Defense 13th Overall (20th pass, 13th rush)
2009 Odds: 55-1 Super Bowl Odds, 25-1 NFC Championship Odds, 51-20 NFC West Odds, 7 Wins (O/U)
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The San Francisco 49ers 2008 season got off to an horrific start. Coach Mike Nolan led the 49ers to a 2-5 start before getting the boot out of town. The 49ers offense was a complete disaster, giving up 18 turnovers in their first seven games. San Francisco then named Mike Singletary the "interim coach" for the remainder of the season and it appeared the team's entire attitude made a big transition. Shaun Hill took over the reigns at quarterback at the 49ers offense slowly turned things around. By the end of the year, San Francisco had knocked off wins in five of their last seven games, building the team a lot of confidence heading into the offseason.
San Francisco will enter the new season with quarterback Shaun Hill likely to get the nod behind center. Hill was 5-3 as a starter last season even though he threw eight picks during that stretch as well. However, the 49ers offense was fairly strong during that stretch, averaging 245 yards through the air. QB Alex Smith missed the entire 2008 season due to a shoulder injury, but is making a strong push towards earning the starting role. If Hill continues to throw interceptions, expect the no-nonsense coaching of Mike Singletary to waste no time in turning to Smith.
Of course, a big question over the course of the offseason was if either quarterback will have the luxury to take aim at the 49ers first round draft pick, Michael Crabtree? Crabtree, possibly the biggest steal of the draft at the No. 10 spot, could have easily gone in the Top 3 selections. However, Crabtree and the 49ers have yet to reach any agreement for a contract while there has been a speculation that the star wideout may sit out the season. On the other hand, that would not be beneficial for either the team or Crabtree personally. Expect the signing to come just before the regular season gets underway and Crabtree to get plenty of playing time.
Outside of Crabtree, look for second-year wideout Josh Morgan to continue to progress and have the possibility to have a big season. Isaac Bruce caught 61 passes for 835 yards last season in his first year in San Francisco. While Bruce has been an excellent wideout during his 15-year career, at age 36 it is unlikely to expect any huge numbers. Still, the passing game will have the chance to be solid given their quarterbacks can keep from throwing picks and that the offensive line can protect the quarterback.
The second big "if" could be the most important considering the 49ers allowed 55 sacks (most in NFL) last season. The offensive front will have to improve and not only protect the quarterbacks, but open up holes for the tailbacks. A big focus for the offense heading into 2009 will be the rushing campaign with Frank Gore in the backfield. Gore has battled injuries over the course of the last two years despite gaining 1,000-plus yards in each of the last three seasons. If Gore can stay injury free, the 49ers could see a vast improvement in their overall offense. Also, the last season Gore played all 16 games was in 2006 when he compiled 1,695 yards on the year. Rookie tailback Glen Coffee will likely get some touches as well and has been impressive in preseason activity. Expect the 49ers to put more focus on the ground early in the season while they build up confidence in their quarterback play.
San Francisco saw their defense take a step up in the right direction last season, improving from 25th overall in 2007 to 13th overall in 2008. However, the 49ers defense was not able to provide any game-changing types of plays. The 49ers defense was only able to bring down the quarterback 30 times and produced just 12 interceptions on the year. San Francisco ranked dead last in the NFL in turnover ratio (-17) and last in the NFC in forced turnovers, 18, for the season. The defense needs to help the offense a bit more by making more plays. Also, the secondary allowed 220 yards per game last season. Michael Lewis is the only reliable player in the pass defense and he is not in what you could call good company. However, the defensive line should see an upgrade with the addition of Demetric Evans. Evans will give the line some depth and help in the rush defense while defensive end Justin Smith has the best ability to get to the quarterback.
Overall, San Francisco should be solid on the offensive side of the ball. Most NFL predictions have the Seahawks as the breakout team in the division, but there is not any reason San Francisco can not fill the void. The 49ers will have better-than-expected success on the ground. Depending on the quarterback play, San Francisco could finish anywhere from second to fourth in the NFC West. One major concern for San Francisco is that their weak secondary will see plenty of strong passing offenses throughout the year and players like Dre Bly, Nate Clements, and Dashon Goldson will have to step it up for the defense.
2009-10 San Francisco 49ers Predictions: Despite Coach Singletary having the team under his control for all 16 games this season, the 49ers are likely to experience similar results. They could easily fall off the radar around the five wins mark, but Singletary gets strong effort from his players. The offense has been a work in progress since they ranked dead last in the NFL in 2007, but this could be the year they get back into the top half of the league. Defensively, there are a lot of variables and they likely take a step back. However, any type of consistency should allow the team to get back to where they ended last year and again finish third in the NFC West at 7-9.
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