NFC West Preview- San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers had an awful start to the 2008 season, but after a head coaching change and some discipline on the sidelines and in the locker room, the 49ers became a suddenly dangerous team. Had this change been done earlier in the season, we could definitely be talking about a potential playoff team.

Now, San Francisco has hired Mike Singeltary to be the head coach full-time, and the former Bears linebacker is ready to turn this team into a full-fledged “Monsters of the West Bay”, and with the way he handled Vernon Davis on the sidelines by sending him to the locker room, it is clear that no foolishness will be tolerated under his watch, something that was clearly missing under former head coach Mike Nolan.

On offense, Shaun Hill appears to be the #1 starter as J.T. O’Sullivan fell off of Singletary’s graces to become the backup, and completely left San Francisco for Cincinnati. Former #1 draft pick Alex Smith took a huge pay cut to stay with the 49ers, and is now trying to revive his career. It’s a long shot for Smith to get the starting job, but he will definitely put the effort to try. A healthy Frank Gore will lead to a productive year, just like the 2007 season when he ran for 1,695 yards. When he goes, the team goes. The receiving corps will get a great boost once Michael Crabtree stops acting like a big baby and signs and proves his worth on the field. Otherwise, expect a more disciplined Vernon Davis to be the dominant tight end the 49ers know he can be when blocking or receiving.

Defensively, Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis are going to be the anchors of the 3-4 scheme that Singletary is implementing. In the final five games, the 49ers gave up just 14.2 PPG, and was 13th in total defense. They are going to be the team that will make the whole team go, with an anemic passing game, it’s going to be a lot of pressure on these guys to get them wins

This will be one of the better 49er teams in the past few years, and with a man of a defensive pedigree like Mike Singletary, it’s easy to say that this 49er team will be making a lot of noise in the NFC West this season. They may not have enough to catch the Arizona Cardinals, but they do have enough to compete for a wild card if healthy. They will be second in their division.

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