I think he hit it spot on. I especially like his summary of our secondary.Veteran Additions: 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.
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 Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Quarterbacks - 4 Star
Running Backs - 4 Star
Receivers - 3 Star
Offensive Line - 4 Star
Defensive Line - 4 Star
Linebackers - 5 Star
Secondary - 2 Star
Special Teams - 4 Star
Coaching - 5 Star
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.
13-3 (1st in NFC West)