QB Colt McCoy, WR Anquan Boldin, G Adam Snyder, DT Glenn Dorsey, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, S Craig Dahl, K Phil Dawson.
Early Draft Picks:
S Eric Reid, DE/DT Tank Carradine, TE Vance McDonald, DE/OLB Corey Lemonier, WR Quinton Patton, RB Marcus Lattimore, DE/DT Quinton Dial. 49ers Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
QB Alex Smith, WR Randy Moss, TE Delanie Walker, NT Isaac Sopoaga, ILB Larry Grant, S Dashon Goldson, K David Akers, KR Ted Ginn.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Offense:
Jim Harbaugh managed to transform mediocre talent Alex Smith into a capable quarterback, so it's no surprise that he has gotten so much out of a gifted player like Colin Kaepernick. Considered way too raw to be chosen in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Kaepernick was chosen in Round 2, and San Francisco essentially redshirted him for a year. When Smith went down, Kaepernick took the reins and never looked back. He threw for 1,814 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions all while compiling 415 rushing yards and five more scores on the ground in seven starts. Of course, his signature moment came in a second-round demolition of Green Bay. Kaepernick generated 263 passing yards (17-of-31 passing), 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).
It's natural to expect a sophomore slump from Kaepernick, given that opposing coaches will work tirelessly to figure out how to stop him. It would almost be a lock for Kaepernick to regress in any normal scenario, but what the 49ers have is far from that. Harbaugh is one of the top head coaches in the NFL, and he's a brilliant offensive mind who will figure out ways to prevent Kaepernick from declining.
The one problem concerning San Francisco is Michael Crabtree's torn Achillies. Crabtree and Kaepernick developed an incredible rapport last season, so the young quarterback will need to find a new favorite target in 2013. There are two candidates for this. First, Anquan Boldin was acquired for a mere sixth-round pick from Baltimore. Boldin will be 33 in October, but he's coming off a tremendous playoff run and is reportedly catching everything in OTAs. Second, Vernon Davis didn't exactly click with Kaepernick, catching exactly one pass in each of his final four regular-season games. Perhaps an offseason together will help Kaepernick and Davis gel.
San Francisco doesn't have much else in terms of receiving talent. Mario Manningham is coming off a torn ACL and PCL. Second-year A.J. Jenkins did nothing last season. Tight end Vance McDonald and wideout Quinton Patton are both rookies. So, with that in mind, Kaepernick will have to lean on the running game heavily. Frank Gore, who used to get hurt all the time, hasn't missed a game since Harbaugh took over as head coach. Gore rushed for 1,212 yards in 2012. The 49ers will be able to keep him fresh because they also have LaMichael James, who is up to 205 pounds from 195 last season. Talented runner Marcus Lattimore is also on the roster, but he's likely to be redshirted because of his devastating knee injury.
The 49ers are able to pound the ball so well because they have such a forceful offensive line. Joe Staley and Anthony Davis each surrendered eight sacks in 2012, but they compensated for that by blasting open huge running lanes. It should be noted that Staley's sack total is a bit misleading, as three of them came in the opener because Smith held on to the ball too long.
The interior of the line is also stout. Right guard Alex Boone was a pleasant surprise in his first season as a starter. Left guard Mike Iupati excelled at blocking, but committed way too many penalties (9). Center Jonathan Goodwin is the weak link up front, but the 49ers are hopeful that 2011 fifth-rounder Daniel Kilgore can beat him out for the job.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Defense:
The 49ers' defense has to feel relieved. They used to carry the team when Alex Smith was trying his best to manage games. With Colin Kaepernick at the helm, San Francisco will hold huge leads at a greater frequency, which will allow the team's pass-rushers to tee off on opposing quarterbacks.
The two defensive Smiths - Aldon and Justin - will be the main beneficiaries. Aldon made a run at Michael Strahan's single-season sack record last year, compiling 19.5 sacks. Justin only recorded three, but his impact was made quite apparent when he was sidelined for the entire playoffs with torn triceps. Aldon suddenly became much less effective. Justin is expected to be 100 percent by training camp, so he and Aldon will continue to be a force on the right side. And if Justin gets hurt again? The 49ers used a second-round pick on Florida State's Tank Carradine as an insurance policy.
The left side, comprised of Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks, isn't as good at getting to the quarterback - the two combined for nine sacks last season - but they're tremendous at stopping the run. Both McDonald and Brooks excel in that department. Brooks is also solid in pass coverage. The 49ers spent a third-round pick on Corey Lemonier, so they can use him if they want another pass-rusher.
All of this pressure on the quarterback will help mask the weakness of San Francisco's defense, which is the secondary. Dashon Goldson defected for Tampa Bay, but he'll be replaced by Eric Reid, whom the 49ers traded up for in the 2013 NFL Draft. Reid figures to be tremendous in run support, but he had issues in coverage at LSU. He'll start next to Donte Whitner, who struggled a bit last season.
The cornerback position is in worse shape. Carlos Rogers performed well at times in 2012, but there was a noticeable drop-off from how he played in 2011. He'll be 32 in July, so his best days are behind him. Tarell Brown had an awesome 2012 campaign, but where's the depth? The team signed Nnamdi Asomugha, who was just dreadful in Philadelphia. Asomugha could rebound, but he has reportedly lost passion for the game. There's also Chris Culliver, but he's not any good. It's amazing that he's even on the team, given that he insulted the 49ers' fan base prior to the Super Bowl.
This segment should end on a positive note, so the heart and soul of the San Francisco defense is right in the center. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are both outstanding inside linebackers who don't have any weaknesses to their game. Considering that the 49ers don't have a true nose tackle to eat up blockers, what Willis and Bowman do is even more impressive.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Schedule and Intangibles:
In the San Francisco 2009 season preview, it was mentioned that the 49ers needed to develop a stronger homefield advantage because they were just 7-9 as hosts in 2007 and 2008. Lo and behold, they were 6-2 at home in 2009, 5-3 in 2010, 8-2 in 2011 and 7-1-1 last season. San Francisco is especially potent in home night games against East Coast teams, thanks to Circadian rhythms. That gave the 49ers a huge advantage over the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The 49ers were better on punt returns than kickoffs. The reason for that was Ted Ginn, but he signed with the Panthers this offseason. Kyle Williams may be asked to handle Ginn's duties, which has to terrify all San Francisco fans.
David Akers struggled because of a hernia last season, so he was run out of town. Phil Dawson is San Francisco's new kicker. Dawson is 38, but he still managed to drill 29-of-31 attempts in 2012, including 7-of-7 from 50-plus. This was no fluke; he was 7-of-8 from that range in 2011.
One of the league's top punters, Andy Lee tied New Orleans' Thomas Morstead for the league's best net average with 43.2. Lee was also third in punts placed inside the opposing 20.
The 49ers have a pretty brutal schedule, as four of their first five opponents made the playoffs last year (Packers, Seahawks, Colts, Texans). The one exception is the Rams, whom San Francisco has issues with. The slate is pretty balanced after that; the 49ers get the Cardinals, Titans and Jaguars, but a stretch from Week 10 and 14 has San Francisco going up against the Panthers, Saints, Redskins, Rams and Seahawks.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Rookies:
Go here for the 49ers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2013 San Francisco 49ers Analysis: Michael Crabtree's season-ending injury will hurt, but the 49ers still have to be considered one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. They still have an outstanding defense, and as long as Jim Harbaugh can prevent Colin Kaepernick from having a sophomore slump, the offense should pick up where it left off at the end of the 2012 season.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: San Francisco's roster is loaded, so the team has way fewer needs than most franchises. Something the 49ers absolutely have to address, however, is the secondary. Both the corner and safety positions are the weakest areas on the roster.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The 49ers ignored the cornerback position but made sure they bolstered their safety group by moving up from No. 31 to 18 for Eric Reid. I wasn't a fan of this; the safety class was loaded, so San Francisco could have stayed put and drafted either Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien at its original spot.
General manager Trent Baalke has proven himself very capable though, so it wasn't surprising at all to see him rebound from that blemish. He traded down from his next selection and still obtained Tank Carradine, who was a major steal at No. 40. Carradine will bulk up and be Justin Smith's successor at the five-technique position. That would explain Corey Lemonier at No. 88. The smaller Lemonier will provide depth at rush linebacker and will almost certainly compete for a starting job down the road.
Baalke's top selections came at the end of the fourth round. Quinton Patton was an absolute steal at No. 128 because he was considered a second-round prospect. Three picks later, the 49ers chose Marcus Lattimore, who was a first-round projection prior to shredding his knee this past fall. Lattimore will essentially be redshirted. Frank Gore's contract expires in 2015, so Lattimore could take over as the starter then.
The 49ers showed why they have one of the premier front offices in the NFL. They were able to strengthen their roster by seldom reaching, all while filling some needs. I wish they would have drafted a cornerback and avoided moving up for Reid, but the latter isn't a huge issue because they were armed with a ton of picks.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
18. Eric Reid, S, LSU: C- Grade
The 49ers moved up for... Eric Reid? Why? This safety class was incredibly loaded. I'm sure one of Reid, Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien would have been available at No. 31. Reid had issues covering last year, so this pick is highly questionable - especially considering that San Francisco moved up for the LSU product.
40. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State: A Grade
Outside linebacker was not a top need for the 49ers, but they have so few holes that they can afford to take the best player available. Tank Carradine was projected to go as high as No. 19, so that's why this is a great pick. Teams can never have enough pass-rushers, and San Francisco appears set, even in the wake of injury. It's worth noting that the 49ers can have Carradine play five-technique in their defense.
55. Vance McDonald, TE, Rice: B Grade
This would have been a pretty solid pick had San Francisco not moved up. The 49ers lost Delanie Walker, so they needed an in-line tight end. Vance McDonald is a good fit and makes sense in this range. I feel like San Francisco could have stayed put and still obtained him, however. (Update: San Francisco gave up just a seventh-rounder).
88. Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn: B Grade
I was going to say that is overkill with these pass-rushers. I can understand the 49ers adding one, but two? One of Corey Lemonier and Tank Carradine is going to be lost in the shuffle. However, it occurred to me that Carradine could play defensive end in San Francisco's scheme, so this makes much more sense. This is the right range for Lemonier.
128. Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: A+ Grade
Why do the smart teams always gets the steals of the draft? Quinton Patton, an outstanding blocker as a wideout, should have gone off the board in the second round. The 49ers don't need a receiver right now, but they will next year when some of their players (Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham) hit free agency.
131. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: A+ Grade
I had a feeling Marcus Lattimore would go to the 49ers. It just made so much sense. The 49ers were armed with so many picks heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Jim Harbaugh loves to redshirt players and use them down the road. He'll do that with Lattimore once Frank Gore moves on to another team.
157. Quinton Dial, DE/DT, Alabama: B Grade
It's not surprising to see the 49ers draft a second defensive lineman. They were hurting for depth in that area heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Quinton Dial fits the range as a fifth-round prospect.
180. Nick Moody, ILB, Florida State: B- Grade
The 49ers are obviously set with their starting inside linebackers, but they had to find some depth at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft. Nick Moody is a slight reach, but that's not a big concern in the middle of Round 6.
237. B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida: C Grade
B.J. Daniels over Matt Scott, Tyler Bray and Sean Renfree? I feel like the 49ers are trolling us.
246. Carter Bykowski, OT, Iowa State: B- Grade
I didn't have Carter Bykowski being drafted, but he still makes sense for needed tackle depth.
252. Marcus Cooper, CB, Rutgers: B Grade
It's about time the 49ers added a cornerback. They needed depth help.
The 49ers entered the 2012 season with a great defense that in all likelihood couldn't lead the team to the Super Bowl because of the limitations at quarterback. That all changed when Jim Harbaugh named Colin Kaepernick the permanent starter in November. Kaepernick was outstanding leading up to the showdown against the Ravens in New Orleans, but struggled prior to the blackout in that contest. However, his second-half surge is what 49er fans should expect to see going forward.
49ers sign G Adam Snyder
Lions sign K David Akers
49ers sign CB Nnamdi Asomugha
49ers acquire QB Colt McCoy from Browns
49ers re-sign S Darcel McBath
Panthers sign WR Ted Ginn
49ers sign WR Marlon Moore
49ers sign K Phil Dawson
49ers sign S Craig Dahl
49ers sign OLB Dan Skuta
49ers sign DT Glenn Dorsey
Buccaneers sign S Dashon Goldson
Eagles sign NT Isaac Sopoaga
Titans sign TE Delanie Walker
49ers acquire WR Anquan Boldin from Ravens for 6th-rounder
49ers re-sign CB Tramaine Brock
49ers cut K David Akers
Chiefs acquire QB Alex Smith from 49ers
Two Safeties: Dashon Goldson is a free agent, while Donte Whitner surrendered more touchdowns than any other safety in 2012. If the Super Bowl proved anything, it's that the 49ers have to upgrade their secondary. Drafted Eric Reid; signed Craig Dahl
Wide Receiver: Mario Manningham, coming off ACL and PCL tears, could be cut this offseason. Randy Moss, whose lethargy finally cost the 49ers in the Super Bowl, won't be back. San Francisco has to find a secondary wideout for Colin Kaepernick. Traded for Anquan Boldin; drafted Quinton Patton
Cornerback: You have to wonder if the heavily penalized Chris Culliver will be back next year after insulting the San Francisco community in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco mercilessly torched Culliver, who can be upgraded. Meanwhile, Carlos Rogers will be 32, so he won't be around much longer. Signed Nnamdi Asomugha
Rush Linebacker: Parys Haralson could be a cap casualty. The 49ers were already thin at rush linebacker, so they'll have to add depth behind Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Drafted Corey Lemonier
Nose Tackle: The 49ers proved last year that they don't really need a full-time nose tackle, but they could certainly use one to make their defense better. Signed Glenn Dorsey
Defensive End: San Francisco has to find a successor for Justin Smith, a 34-year-old entering his contract season. Drafted Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial
Center: Jonathan Goodwin, who just turned 34, will be entering his contract year in 2013. He could be replaced this offseason.
Offensive Tackle: There isn't much depth behind Joe Staley and Anthony Davis.
Tight End: San Francisco will have to find a blocking tight end if Delanie Walker isn't retained. Drafted Vance McDonald
Inside Linebacker: Depth is needed behind Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. Signed Dan Skuta
Kicker: David Akers missed more field goals than any other kicker in the NFL this past season. He was cut. Signed Phil Dawson
Quarterback: With Alex Smith gone, the 49ers could use a veteran quarterback. Traded for Colt McCoy
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Phil Dawson, K, Browns. Age: 38. Signed with 49ers
Phil Dawson showed no signs of his age this past season, nailing 29-of-31 attempts, including a perfect 7-of-7 from 50-plus.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Eagles. Age: 32. Signed with 49ers (1 year)
Aside from perhaps Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha was viewed as the league's best cornerback when he signed a 5-year, $60 million contract right after the lockout. He was just mediocre in 2011 and then downright awful this past season, so it was a no-brainer that Philadelphia cut him, given that he was owed $15 million in 2013. Ranking Asomugha is a bit of a challenge because there's always a chance he could improve elsewhere. He won't be in Raider form, but perhaps he can become a decent starter again. On the flip side, there have been reports that Asomugha lost his passion for the game. He'll be 32 in July, so there's a good chance we'll never see the pre-Eagle Asomugha again.
Glenn Dorsey, DT, Chiefs. Age: 28. Signed with 49ers
Glenn Dorsey is a bust as the fifth-overall selection in 2008. He can stop the run when healthy, so he's serviceable in that regard. I'd also like to see what he can do in a 4-3, a system more suited toward his strengths.
Craig Dahl, S, Rams. Age: 28. -- Signed with 49ers (3 years)
Adam Snyder, G, Cardinals. Age: 31. -- Signed with 49ers
Dan Skuta, OLB, Bengals. Age: 27. -- Signed with 49ers (2 years)
Marlon Moore (RFA), WR, Dolphins. Age: 25. -- Signed with 49ers
San Francisco 49ers Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Dashon Goldson, S, 49ers. Age: 28. Signed with Buccaneers (5 years)
Dashon Goldson had some issues in coverage back in 2011, but did what he needed to do to correct them this past season. Goldson made the Pro Bowl for good reason.
David Akers, K, 49ers. Age: 38. Signed with Lions
David Akers was notorious for blowing tons of field goals in 2012. He went just 29-of-42. On the bright side, he was 4-of-5 in the playoffs. Akers is not ranked low because he dealt with a sports hernia last year. He could easily bounce back.
Delanie Walker, TE, 49ers. Age: 29. Signed with Titans
Delanie Walker doesn't play a big part as a receiving tight end, but he's a tremendous blocker.
Ted Ginn, KR, 49ers. Age: 28. Signed with Panthers
Ted Ginn didn't score a special-teams touchdown for the first time since 2008, but was still effective taking back punts.
Larry Grant, ILB, 49ers. Age: 28.
Larry Grant played well in relief of an injured Patrick Willis a year ago, but didn't see the field much in 2012.
Ricky Jean-Francois, DE/DT, 49ers. Age: 26. Signed with Colts (4 years, $22 million)
Ricky Jean-Francois handled himself well when inserted into the lineup in the wake of Justin Smith's injury. He's not much of a pass-rusher, but he contained the run well.
Isaac Sopoaga, NT, 49ers. Age: 31. -- Signed with Eagles