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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
James from Lincoln, U.K., writes: Now that it is established that Mike Singletary is the 49ers coach now, and will be for years (and that is absolutely the right thing), it appears that he will look to implement a smash-mouth type of offense. Of course winning is the most important thing, especially with the John York effect having crushed this franchise recently.
My only concern is this: When the franchise was successful it had NFL/Super Bowl MVP's/Hall Of Famers under center. The ball was in the air and in the end zone often and it was great to watch. Do you think that this more conservative style of offense will go down well with the team's paying customers? For what it's worth, I cannot stand traditional Bears football.
Mike Sando: Singletary is talking about establishing an identity through the running game. The 49ers will still need good play at the quarterback position to get beyond 8-8 and become a factor in the playoffs. Being able to throw the ball to score points certainly helps a team win in the playoffs, or anytime.
Very few teams have been able to line up and run effectively on a consistent basis against eight in the box. The Ravens did it during their Super Bowl run years ago. They also had one of the all-time great defenses. They also didn't have much playoff success in the following years, leading to Brian Billick's eventual firing.
I would rather have a franchise quarterback and worry about establishing the ground game than have a strong ground game and worry about the quarterback. That said, those two pursuits do not have to be exclusive. I'm sure Singletary wants a top quarterback and a top running game. A top quarterback makes it much harder for opponents to load up against the run. Teams put eight in the box against Peyton Manning at their own peril.
Mike Sando: The scouting combine runs Feb. 18 to Feb. 24, with free agency beginning Feb. 27. The league meetings are scheduled for March 22 to 25, with the draft set for April 25 and 26.
Mike Sando: Sure, he'd be a better fit, but Mike Shanahan isn't going to become an offensive coordinator at this point. He'll get a job as head coach, either this season or next.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Brad. As I said in response to Fernando, I think it's absolutely a dream to think Shanahan would become a coordinator. Even if it were to happen, any coach hiring Shanahan as a coordinator would have to expect Shanahan to leave in 2010. If I'm the 49ers, I would rather have a good coordinator for the next five years than a great one for 2009 only.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Jelston. The ties between Marinelli and Tim Ruskell are indeed strong. Jim Mora does not share those ties, so I'm not sure if he would go that direction. I'm not sure how fired up fans would be about adding the coach of a 0-16 team, particularly when Marinelli does not have experience as a defensive coordinator (he was a line coach in Tampa Bay).
Mangini and Crennel would be 3-4 schemers and Seattle does not have that type of personnel on defense, so those two would not make sense to me.
Mike Sando: Tapping into the 49ers' tradition would be a nice move, but Singletary might be better served hiring a more established coordinator. Singletary is a first-time head coach. He will be learning on the job and he will not be in position to rescue the offense if the coordinator winds up being in over his head.
I don't think the Falcons are able to stop the passing attack unless they can knock Kurt Warner down early and often and the Cardinals unfortunately can't stop anyone, but I think Rodgers-Cromartie will have a nice day against Roddy White. Other than that, I think the Falcons might be a little overconfident and from reading some press articles, they are planning for the second round and that is never a good thing. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: There is no upset when these teams meet Saturday. Nothing would help the Cardinals more than a fast start offensively. A lead would be their best defense against the run, and I do like their matchups against the Falcons' secondary.
Mike Sando: The flattery isn't going to make me change my view on this one. Sorry!
Mike Sando: I expect the Seahawks to address that position by attempting to upgrade their pass rush. Seattle went to a Super Bowl with 5-foot-10, 183-pound Andre Dyson playing cornerback. I think the corners and safeties have enough talent to hold up well enough if they have a strong pass rush.
Mike Sando: Let's see who is coordinating that San Francisco offense and who else becomes available in free agency.
Mike Sando: Steve Mariucci appears quite happy with his current job on NFL Network. Coming back to San Francisco as a coordinator would not make much sense for him personally or professionally, in my view.
Mike Sando: Martz has a reputation in the league for running his system the way he wants to run it, with less regard for personnel. Other coaches do the same thing sometimes, but you're right about Martz's approach putting extra pressure on certain areas, including areas where the 49ers are not particularly strong.
The change indeed made sense from a personnel standpoint. The 49ers still do not have dynamic personnel throughout their offense, but at least they are set up to make better use of that personnel. Singletary's choice for offensive coordinator will be pivotal.
Mike Sando: Thank you, Greg. I think you make a compelling case. I would expect the Cardinals to continue addressing the personnel in that front seven. They took two linemen in the most recent draft. They probably need another linebacker or two.
Mike Sando: Sims has started a lot more games at right tackle than Snyder ever will, in my estimation. My analysis was based on Sims as a backup, and I concede it might be outdated. Sims seemed to be a good addition in that role. The offense changed quite a bit later in the season, and that helped Synder when he was in there, I think. Either way, the 49ers will be looking to address that position after whiffing on Jonas Jennings in free agency.
Mike Sando: Gotcha. I did consider him for the stock-rising list, but his yardage total in the game left me somewhat unconvinced. Gore is outstanding when healthy, no question.
I could be wrong, but even if they came away with a win against the Cards, wouldn't we still be out of the division title because of division wins? Or were you simply stating that as a momentum factor for the 49ers for the rest of the season?
Also got one more quick question about the Niners in regards to the draft. I noticed that the two biggest holes in their team is at safety and in the defensive line. They need a pass rusher of some sort, but they also need help in the deep pass on defense. Do you think they would draft a pass rusher in the first round to make it easier on the secondary, or do you think they will try for a ball-hawking safety? Thanks in advance Mike, keep up the good work.
Mike Sando: All things being equal, the 49ers would be wise going for the pass-rusher over the safety just because elite pass-rushers are so hard to find. You can win with a so-so safety. You have a harder time winning with a so-so pass rush.
Teams that run 3-4 defenses don't generally go after pass-rushing defensive linemen. They go after pass-rushing linebackers. Your wording might have been an issue of semantics, but I wanted to point that out just in case. That made the Kentwan Balmer selection a little curious to me. He'll probably never be a guy people notice playing in a 3-4, even if he is playing well. They need him to start in 2009 to start getting value from that pick.
As far as the 49ers and the division race, Arizona still would have won the division even with a home loss to the 49ers in that Monday night game. The 49ers would have lost more games within the division, as you suspected.
Mike Sando: I'm with you on that one. Julius Peppers is a special player when he's right, but any team that signs him in free agency is going to pay a premium. Much better to draft an impact player and get him under terms of his first contract, when he's healthy and hungry and all those good things. Take a look at the teams that made big splashes through free agency and trades last offseason. How are the Browns and Jets looking? Meanwhile, the Titans took heat for their relative inactivity in those areas, only to enjoy a strong season.
When Mike Reinfeldt was managing the Seahawks' salary cap, he helped open my eyes to the mistakes teams often make in overpaying for free agents. Recent history has made him look like a pretty smart man on that front.
I don't e
ver recall our having both networks go double for us and I especially do not recall a Niner home game having another televised game go up against it. Perhaps this was some sort of league gift due to it being week 17. I'm all for it as we Niner fans often get stuck with Raider home game slots at 1:00 when our team is on the road at 10:00 or on MNF. We used to get the top game but when the Raiders moved back we got stuck with them. Even their blackouts mean we may get a superior late game but not the doubleheader if it's on an alternate network. Hope that helps explain it.
Mike Sando: Thanks. I'm checking on this one.
Lastly, my comment is regarding Mora. Personally I'm excited that he's the new coach, there were many a time that I really questioned the conservative play calling of Holmgren. Even when they said they were going to play more aggressively with nothing to lose, there still seemed to be some reservation in opening the playbook. I also wonder what was going on at RB with Jones out the last several games. Thanks, Ken
Mike Sando: We're not going anywhere during the offseason, Ken. My experience blogging is that the offseason can be even more active at times given all the draft stuff and free-agent stuff. The rhythm to the blog will change a little.
I thought Holmgren was an outstanding play caller at his best. He could really get into a rhythm. But I'm not sure he was the most flexible play caller. It's something I'd like to speak with him about sometime. He would know a lot more about it and he would probably be honest in his self-evaluation.
Can you please detail what has to be done for this team to get better then this? I know: 1) win the big games. 2) Win on road. 3) Get a Dline. 4) Get a #1 WR. 5) establish both QB/OC.
What can be done to get us over the hurdle as this just depresses me for a long time to see our season end like this. It's not right, and it questions my faith in my team these days. What does this team need, Mike? Please help this frustrated longtime fan. Also, what can the 49ers do to fill our stadium with 100% 49ers fans?
Mike Sando: Winning will fill the stadium with almost all 49ers fans. That one is simple. I think the 49ers' needs are fairly well defined. Establish continuity on the staff, develop a quarterback, improve at right tackle, upgrade the pass rush, add speed to the secondary, etc.