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NFC West Breakdown: San Francisco 49ers

Key Additions: CB Dre Bly (Broncos), QB Damon Huard (Chiefs), WR Brandon Jones (Titans), OT Marvel Smith (Steelers), FB Moran Norris (Lions) CB Eric Green (Dolphins).

Key Losses: S Keith Lewis (Cardinals), CB Donald Strickland (Jets), QB J.T. O'Sullivan (Bengals), WR Bryant Johnson (Lions).

Draft: WR Michael Crabtree (1st), RB Glen Coffee (3rd), LB Scott Mckillop (5th), QB Nate Davis (5th), TE Bear Pascoe (6th), FS Curtis Taylor (7th), DT Ricky Jean-Francois (7th).

The 49ers have had a rough go of it the past several seasons failing to register a winning record since the 2002 season. Part of the problem for the team has been bad drafts after bad drafts, failing to create that homegrown talent that most teams use to be successful. By making the intense Mike Singletary the full time head coach, the 49ers' front office hopes that his mindset and pedigree can change their fortunes when it comes to getting good prospects to rebuild this team and make it the perennial winner 49ers fans had become accustomed to.

In the 2009 draft, the 49ers were able to get some players full of potential epitomized by Michael Crabtree who slid to the 10th pick yet many draft pundits projected him to be a top 3 talent before the draft. Crabtree is an immense talent coming out of college having more than 20 TDs this past season for Texas Tech. His talent and potential has been compared to Larry Fitzgerald. This would be awesome for the 49ers offense that has lacked a consistently talented receiver since Terrell Owens was traded. The problem is that Crabtree hasn't signed yet and is threatening to holdout and re-enter the draft next year. This would set them back in trying to add talent to this team as it would be another "wasted" first round pick, yet even worse than the Alex Smith or Vernon Davis picks with nothing to show but boxes of unsold #15 jerseys. Even though the team has done right by not giving into Crabtree's demands of being paid as a top three player, they need to get him in as fast as possible as every game he misses inhibits his impact as a first season player.

Another dark cloud looming over this offense is the quarterback situation. In 2005 they drafted Alex Smith with the first overall pick and so far he hasn't lived up to expectations. This season he hopes to change that and prove he can be that player the team thought they were drafting; he's shown his willingness to be a team player by reworking his rookie contract. The 49ers also have Amsterdam Admiral alum Shaun Hill who won five of his last eight games to finish last season helping the team salvage what was looking like another double digit loss season. If the wheels completely fall off the Niners', Damon Huard's veteran savvy can only help the younger players and run the offense. This team needs one of these QBs to step up and lead this team as Frank Gore cannot do it alone on offense especially with opposing defenses scheming to take him out of the game. If the passing and running game is going to improve, they will need their offensive line to stay healthy and key players to step up. Vernon Davis exploded onto the NFL scene with his impressive NFL Combine performance but has not lived up to expectations as he was supposed to completely change the tight end position in the NFL. Since Singletary has taken over, Davis has looked completely different and most Niners' fans thinks he might have a breakout year. The team also has Josh Morgan and Isaac Bruce at wide receiver to provide passing targets but the depth is full of unknowns and lofty "Fooch Potential", especially as long as Michael Crabtree isn't suiting up. If this team loses any of these mentioned players this year, especially Gore, than they are in trouble as again there isn't much experienced depth on this team.

The defense on this team has the potential to be one of the top units in the league. Not only is it influenced by one of the most physical players in his day, Mike Singletary, but they also have one of the best, if not the best, linebackers in the NFL with Patrick Willis. This guy is an anchor to this team making key plays every game. They also have a strong coverage corner in Nate Clements and a lot of potential in safety Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown. Like the offense, the defense has its questions with certain players such as Manny Lawson who yet to meet the expectations that come with being the player they drafted in the first round two years ago. They also need to keep Takeo Spikes healthy as there isn't much depth behind him. This unit by far is looking like the better part of this team going into the 2009 season.

Since Mike Singletary has taken over this team, they have been looking better by the day but it still has its problems, the biggest being a lack of depth necessary to have a winning team. They also need to get Crabtree in camp because he is a major key to their future and they don't need any more players labeled "busts". Still, there is a lot to look forward to if you are a 49ers fan especially in the NFL West where a couple of key injuries to any given team can completely alter the playoff landscape.

Record for 2009: 7-9
Record Vs the Cardinals: 0-2 Really tough to predict this one as they have been playing close games lately but I am going to give both games to the Cards as I think the 49ers fall short in the end as they are not quite there yet in getting back to their winning ways.
Record Vs the NFC West: 3-3