After starting out 2-6 last season, the 49ers finished with a 7-9 record. This was mostly due to some changes in the organization, most notably the firing of Mike Nolan who was replaced by Mike Singletary and the switching of quarterbacks from J.T. Sullivan to Shaun Hill. San Francisco hopes it can continue its success from the end of last season into 2009.
This season, Shaun Hill will fight to retain his starting quarterback job over former number one pick, Alex Smith. The 49ers selected the talented Michael Crabtree out of Texas Tech in the draft and hope he can fit into their offense after being in Texas Tech’s high scoring offense, and become a number one weapon for Hill or Smith. That is, if the team and Crabtree can eventually agree on contract terms. Receiver Josh Morgan will be returning for his second season and was having a great rookie campaign last season before being sidelined by an injury. Morgan should have a break-out year in 2009 and could be the number one receiver on this team. Tight End Vernon Davis has yet to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he was selected 6th in the 2006 Draft. He is still a solid option on offense and is primed for a great season. Frank Gore will once again be a threat to opposing defenses and hopes to stay healthy for the whole season in 2009. San Francisco drafted Glen Coffee to help ease the workload of Gore. The offensive line last year did pretty good creating holes for Gore but still gave up almost 40 sacks. Joe Staley returns at the left tackle position and he is was one of the main problems on the line last year giving up plenty of sacks. Marvel Smith is at right tackle and is prone to injury and also gives up quite a few sacks. These two need to step up in 2009 so the quarterback doesn’t have to fear for his life on every passing play.
The 49ers return a mediocre outside linebacking core that consists of Parys Haralson, Justin Smith, and Manny Lawson. The inside linebackers are much better and include play-makers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. Justin Smith will also play defensive end a lot this season and will line up on the opposite side of Demetric Evans. Aubrayo Franklin will line up at nose for the 49ers and provides solid play. San Francisco’s secondary will once again be questionable and have trouble against stopping the pass. Nate Clements and Dre Bly will be the cornerbacks and both have struggled in one-on-one coverage. Michael Lewis will be playing strong safety and he can be great at times but below average at other times. The free safety position is still unknown and has prompted a position battle between Mark Roman, Dashon Goldson, and Reggie Smith. Roman has the most experience between the three.
The 49ers have too many question marks to be a division contender. Although the NFC West is not that strong, San Francisco simply does not field a good enough squad to be a threat.
2009 Season Prediction: 6-10, 3rd NFC West