San Francisco 49ers 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 7-9 (7-8-1 ATS)
Stadium: Candlestick Park
Head Coach: Mike Singletary (1st Season 5-4 as interim coach in 2008)
Current 2009-2010 Super Bowl Odds 55-to-1
Training Camp Site: San Francisco 49ers Complex, Santa Clara, Calif.
When the San Francisco 49ers stumbled out to a mistake-prone 2-5
start in 2008 their management team finally did what it should have
done a few years earlier, punt the well dressed but overmatched head
coach Mike Nolan from the sidelines.
They promoted defensive coordinator Mike Singletary to the interim
position as head coach and Iron Mike turned things upside down
immediately. Including a well publicized tirade after his very first
game as the head man when he literally kicked super-talented but yet-
to-get-it tight end Vernon Davis off the bench and went off about how
things were going to change under his watch. He also made waves when
he benched a hand-picked player for the new offensive system,
quarterback J.T. OSullivan, in favor of an undrafted career third-
stringer, Shaun Hill.
The 49ers closed out the year at 5-4 under Singletary, which was good
enough for the 49ers to take the interim tag off of his job title.
But with much of the same roster, including a quarterback battle
between Hill and Smith, the big question coming into the 2009 season
is whether or not Iron Mike can pull more rabbits out of his hat and
make the 49ers competitive in the weak-and-winnable NFC West.
Whos In/Whos Out
One of the biggest departures in the offseason was that of offensive
coordinator Mike Martz, who was brought in by Nolan to try and save
his job and instead they both went down in flames.
The 49ers were surprisingly quiet during free agency this winter,
picking up some quality along the offensive and defensive lines, but
that was about it. The offensive line was bolstered when they signed
Marvel Smith from Pittsburgh in March to become the starting right
tackle. They also added depth along the d-line by signing Demetric
Evans from Washington (3.5 sacks in 08).
Receiver Brandon Jones (Tennessee) and fullback Moran Norris
(Detroit) were also brought in during free agency, but both are role
players and not blockbuster moves.
The biggest names the 49ers let go in the offseason were running back
DeShaun Foster and receiver Bryant Johnson, and neither of them were
big enough contributors to make 49ers fans shed a tear.
Draft Class 2009
San Franciscos draft class is highlighted by their first-round pick
Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech, but the receiver slipped to the 10th
overall pick and still wants top-5 money and is one of the few
unsigned picks of the draft. Crabtrees agent has already played the
hell sit out all year trump-card to try and spur negotiations, but
both sides continue to posture and who knows when it will finally get
That makes third-round pick, running back Glen Coffee of Alabama, the
49ers biggest impact rookie of the class. Coffee has had a few strong
preseason games already and will work his way into the backfield mix
with Frank Gore from the get-go.
The rest of the 49ers draft class looks like fringe roster/practice
squad players. 5th-round linebacker Scott McKillop and 5th-round QB
Nate Davis will make it in some form or fashion, but 6th-round TE
Bear Pascoe and 7th-rounders Curtis Taylor and Ricky Jean-Francois
will need injuries, or a huge camp, or both to make it.
Jimmy Raye is the new coordinator, coming over from the Jets in the
offseason. Rayes style of run-first should fit the personnel better
than the fun-n-gun Martz scheme.
Singletary recently announced the winner of the battle for the signal-
callers job was Hill, meaning the eight-year vet has finally won an
opening day start. Hills numbers last season (2,046 yds., 13 TD, 8
INT, 62.8 Comp%) arent very compelling to look at, but he plays that
classic style of dont let mistakes beat you to take what the
defense gives, the style Singletary and his defense prefers to play.
The rookie Coffee should instantly help to improve the 49ers 27th-
ranked rushing attack from last year (99.9 ypg). Gore struggled to a
1,000-yard season last year (1,036, 6 TD), so having Coffee to give
him a blow every now and then will be key. And dont forget the re-
signing of the fullback Norris, a traditional blocking fullback who
was tossed aside by Martz and his chuck-n-duck scheme. Gore had his
1,695-yard season running behind Norris in 06.
The 49ers will need a better ground game to make up for a lack of
depth at receiver, especially if the Crabtree holdout lasts into the
season. Isaac Bruce is still a dangerous weapon (835 yds., 7 TD), but
without Crabtree on the other side Bruce is likely to see double
teams. Davis (31 rec., 2 TD) needs to finally put up or shut up too,
and my guess is that Singletary is exactly the guy to get the tight
end to do it on every Sunday.
The 49ers defense finished 08 ranked 22nd in points allowed (21.2
ppg) and 23rd in total yards (311.1 ypg), so its kind of surprising
that Singletary basically got a hall pass for his own unit stinkin
it up and being mediocre. Middle linebacker has missed almost all of
training camp with an Achilles injury, and corner Walt Harris is
already lost for the season with an ACL tear, so theres no doubt the
defensive side of the ball could become a big issue this season.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin teams up with last years first-round
pick Kentwan Balmer to anchor the 49ers 3-4 scheme. Ends Justin Smith
(7 sacks in 08) and Isaac Sopoaga will be joined by Evans on passing
downs to form a decent potential pass-rush.
The linebacking core is solid with Willis and Takeo Spikes on the
inside, and Parys Haralson (team-high 8 sacks) and Manny Lawson on
the outside. Somehow this crew finished 08 as the 27th-ranked unit
against the run, a number they must reverse to have success in 2009.
The secondary is already down Harris, but it should be okay with
former Denver Bronco Dre Bly battling Tarell Brown and Shawntae
Spencer for the right to start opposite Nate Clements at corner.
Safeties Michael Lewis and Dashon Goldson are solid, but must improve
their ball-hawking skills since the 49ers only had 12 interceptions
as a team last season.
Joe Nedney was resigned in the offseason to continue as the 49ers
kicker. Nedney was 29-of-33 in field goal attempts and still has
plenty of leg left (long of 53) to get the job done in the NFL.
Punter Andy Lee is also back after a great 08 season, when he had a
47.8 yard average and a 39.0 yard net average. He does have issues
with directional punting towards the end zone, as he only pinned 13
punts out of 66 down inside the 20-yard line.
Like Nedney, return specialist Allen Rossum was resigned in the
offseason for another go in 2009. His averages of 14.9 on punt
returns and 26.8 on kickoffs are still toward the top of the league,
and his 104-yard kickoff return for a score last year shows hes
still capable of taking it to the house on any given kick.
Sept. 13 at Arizona Cardinals
Sept. 20 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Sept. 27 at Minnesota Vikings
Oct. 4 ST. LOUIS RAMS
Oct. 11 ATLANTA FALCONS
Oct. 18 Bye
Oct. 25 at Houston Texans
Nov. 1 at Indianapolis Colts
Nov. 8 TENNESSEE TITANS
Nov. 12 CHICAGO BEARS
Nov. 22 at Green Bay Packers
Nov. 29 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Dec. 6 at Seattle Seahawks
Dec. 14 ARIZONA CARDINALS
Dec. 20 at Philadelphia Eagles
Dec. 27 DETROIT LIONS
Jan. 3 at St. Louis Rams
Betting Odds and Projections
San Francisco was a losing proposition for sports gamblers in 2008,
ending the year with a juice-draining 7-8-1 record. Their over/under
record of 8-7-1 trended toward the over, but still was the kind of
frustrating display of inconsistency that makes bettors scream at the
television and cuss at the coaching staff.
With more questions than answers right now, the 49ers are truly a
long shot at winning Super Bowl 44 as they are currently listed at 55-
to-1 odds at Bovada. Hill is a good quarterback and a nice story,
but he is definitely not a quarterback that will carry a team into
the Super Bowl, so any wagering on the Niners at 55-to-1 is throwing
your money out the window or at the window.
When you look at the Niners schedule you cant help but think it may
be a long year in Santa Clara. They have some really tough road games
on the schedule (at Minn., at Indy, at Green Bay, at Philly), topped
off with two tough home games against playoff teams (Atlanta and
Tennessee), so its hard to see them improving over their 7-9 season
last year. If they can somehow get to the bye week at 3-2 or better
yet 4-1, it could give them enough confidence to make a push toward
an 8-8 campaign.
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