2010 NFL Draft: San Francisco 49ers Team Needs
A team on the rise, the San Francisco 49ers are on the way to their first winning season in eight years.
When Mike Singletary was brought in as head coach last year, he brought with him a philosophy of toughness and discipline, turning a desolate team into a team to be feared by opponents. Led by the running of Frank Gore and the tackling of Patrick Willis, the team made tremendous leaps in becoming a contender in the NFC West.
Newly appointed quarterback Alex Smith is one of the forgotten talents that entered the league with high hopes of success and, instead, found himself on his back looking up at a California sky filled with unforgiving fans.
He will now get his second, or third, chance—only this time with a dependable running back and an improved defense. Still, the Niners will have to properly plan and make all the right moves if they intend to improve their roster.
Biggest Needs: OL, WR
With Alex Smith coming in for another shot at greatness, it’s vital that the front office folks provide some adequate protection for the young gunslinger.
That being said, David Baas may very well leave as a free agent, and replacing him won’t be so easy.
Thankfully, with two decent picks in the upcoming draft (13th, 17th), San Francisco has a shot at nabbing two offensive linemen if they should choose. There will be many talented candidates available.
Frank Gore had one of the highest running averages in ’09, but the Niners had one of the lowest rush attempts in theNFL. That tells me the team isn’t confident in their line. I expect them to target inside blockers like Mike Iupati out of Idaho, Baylor’s J.D. Walton, and maybe even USC’s Charles Brown.
Isaac Bruce is headed for free agency this year. The aging wide out may be headed for retirement, pending San Francisco’s decision to let him go or re-sign him. Despite his offseason woes, Michael Crabtree has undergone stellar progression and is, deservedly, an excellent No. 1 receiver.
However, I do expect the Niner nation to seek out another weapon for Alex Smith. With an abundance of picks in April, they have the tools to do so. Look for them to target the physical Erick Decker out of Minnesota or even Tulane’s Jeremy Williams.
Biggest Needs: DL, CB
Aubrayo Franklin’s possible departure in free agency will have San Francisco looking closely at possible replacements coming out of the draft and, with more than a few adequate picks, could do it efficiently.
Torrell Troupe out of Central Florida is exactly the type of player Mike Singletary is looking to add to his defensive roster. Physically and athletically gifted, he could stuff the inside rush and keep the middle of the line intact in Franklin’s absence.
Jeff Ulbrich may also be leaving and, even though linebacker isn’t a position of weakness for the team, they may look for a tough run-stopper to keep the integrity of the defense’s depth complete.
If Dre Bly and Walt Harris opt to leave for a bigger contract, it won’t be easy for the Niners to replace their veteran leadership. I don’t foresee Singletary looking at the draft to replace them, though there are options there (Rutgers’ Devin McCourty and Alabama’s Javier Arenas).
Rather, I expect the front office to target Leigh Bodden of the New England Patriots or even Dunta Robinson of theHouston Texans. Both are trusted talents in the NFL and could provide leadership on a young defense.
There’s even an outside chance that the Niners try to play the cards and draft free safety Morgan Burnett out of Georgia Tech and attempt to convert him to cornerback.
San Francisco has talent on both sides of the ball and the potential to only improve upon it with smart moves in the draft and in free agency. The ownership isn’t known for unloading top dollars for free agents, so the draft will probably be the primary outlet for finding new talent.
Either way, the NFC West will only get stronger as the 49ers develop themselves
Attention San Francisco 49ers Fans: