Tuesday, February 18, 2014
49ers well positioned to improve
By Bill Williamson
One of the unique things about the San Francisco 49ers is that not only have they become one of the NFL’s elite teams but they are also well positioned to remain atop the league.
The 49ers -- who have been to the NFC title game the past three seasons -- are fantastic health as a franchise. They are young, they have managed the salary cap well and they are looking at having 12 draft picks in May, so there is plenty of ways the 49ers can improve.
In fact, in an Insider piece, ESPN's Mike Sando believes the 49ers are positioned to improve more than any team in the NFL this offseason. That’s pretty scary considering they are coming off a 12-4 season.
Here are some of Sando’s thoughts:
"The 49ers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, even though nine of their league-high 16 Pro Bowl players are either specialist, players headed toward free agency, potential cap casualties or coming off injury. Most of the team's best players remain under contract for at least another season. Re-signing receiver Anquan Boldin is realistic but not essential now that Michael Crabtree is healthy. Keeping strong safety Donte Whitner might be tougher from a cost standpoint. ... Having additional choices in the second and third rounds gives San Francisco flexibility. Last year, the team parlayed a similar situation into a quick move up the draft board for safety Eric Reid. I wouldn't be surprised to see San Francisco strike similarly for a cornerback this year."
I agree with Sando that this team has a chance to get better. I don’t expect any earth-shattering veteran acquisitions. I think the 49ers want to keep their own priority free agents in the form of Boldin, Whitner and kicker Phil Dawson.
I think the real noise San Francisco can make is in the draft. I can see the 49ers making a big move up to grab a top-rated receiver or defensive back. This is a team with few needs. I can’t see more than five or six draft picks among the 53-man roster. So, adding an instant impact player could make this team even more dangerous in 2014.