2010 San Francisco 49ers Season Preview

As the entire NFC West is seemingly crumbling around them, the 2010 San Francisco 49ers Team Preview looks pretty bright. The Niners have proven to be the model of stability for the division and should now take the reigns from Arizona now that Kurt Warner is gone. For the first time in eight seasons, the team will be bringing back the same head coach and offensive coordinator. Add those two factors together with a hot-streak finish in 2009, and you get the new favorites to finish atop what over the past few seasons has devolved into one of the weakest divisions in football.

The best way to sum up the 2009 San Francisco offense is, "confused." The team ran everything from a hardcore running attack at the start of the season, to shotgun formations and spread attacks to end the season. In order for the Niners to be successful, Raye will need to be far more balanced in 2010. All indications are that a now-healthy Gore will spear-head a run-heavy offense for the team, and that he, along with the rest of the the 49ers' skill players, will benefit from playing with an improved offensive line led by new coach Mike Solari.

Defensively, San Francisco has been able to hang with the big boys for a number of years now, and there is no reason to assume 2010 will be any different. New addition, Taylor Mays, should immediately challenge for a safety spot opposite Dashon Goldson, and make an instant impact with the team. Shawntae Specner will continue to be one of the NFL's best kept secrets at cornerback, and on the opposite side look for the Nate Clements situation to get sorted out once and for all.

As mentioned earlier in the 2010 San Francisco 49ers Season Preview, the entire NFC West is in a complete state of flux. The Seattle Seahawks are led by the often-injured Matt Hasselback, the Arizona Cardinals lost Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams have their hopes riding on unproven rookie Sam Bradford. With that in mind, San Francisco is the clear-cut favorite to finally get to the top of the division for the first time in a long time.
2010 San Francisco 49ers Coaching Staff & ChangesMike Singletary is entering his second season with the 49ers as head coach, after failing to live up to his statement that the team would win the NFC West last year. However, the team did make strides, and more is expected from them heading into 2010, much due to the atmosphere that Singletary has created in his short time as head coach. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will continue to implement their schemes, as the defense will continue to run a 3-4 base scheme. Manusky runs a very basic format, which is friendlt to his players because they have a finite amount of assignments to handle.
2010 San Francisco 49ers Key Free Agency Acquisitions & LossesAcquistions
WR - Tedd Ginn Jr. traded from Miami Dolphins
- Brian Westbrook from Philadelphia Eagles
QB - David Carr from New York Giants
LB - Travis LaBoy from Free Agency

RB - Glen Coffee to Retirement
OT - Tony Pashos to Cleveland Browns
QB - Shaun Hill traded to Detroit Lions
WR - Arnaz Battle to Pittsburgh Steelers
CB - Dre' Bly to Free Agency
CB - Marcus Hudson to Carolina Panthers2010 San Francisco 49ers NFL DraftRound 1: Pick 11 - OT, Anthony Davis (Rutgers)
Round 1: Pick 17 - OG, Mike Iupati (Idaho)
Round 2: Pick 49 - FS, Taylor Mays (USC)
Round 3: Pick 91 - LB, Navorro Bowman (Penn State)
Round 6: Pick 173 - RB, Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State)
Round 6: Pick 182 - TE, Nate Byham (Pittsburgh)
Round 6: Pick 206 - WR, Kyle Williams (Arizona State)
Round 7: Pick 224 - DB, Phillip Adams (South Carolina State)
2010 San Francisco 49ers QuarterbacksA lot of the 49ers' success will depend on whether quarterback, Alex Smith, and offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye, can continue to grow and progress together. If the two can find a way to get on the same page and utilize the team's offensive weapons like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, Smith has the potential to finally break out in his sixth professional season. Smith is a previous number one overall draft pick for the 49ers, and is starting to progress as a professional now that the 49ers have a stable coaching staff.

2010 San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Depth Chart
QB - Alex Smith
QB - David Carr
QB - Nate Davis 2010 San Francisco 49ers Running BacksAll indications are that a now-healthy Gore will spear-head a run-heavy offense for the team, and that he, along with the rest of the the 49ers' skill players, will benefit from playing with an improved offensive line led by new coach Mike Solari. Gore is regarded as one of the league's top running backs and can break the big play. He would have been spelled by Glen Coffee who had done a solid job of carrying the ball during stints while Gore was injured, but Coffee unexpected retired after a very short NFL career. The 49ers picked up RB Brian Westbrook to fill the spot left by Coffee's vacancy.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Running Back Depth Chart
RB - Frank Gore
RB - Brian Westbrook 2010 San Francisco 49ers Wide Receivers The 2010 San Francisco 49ers receiving corps is led by Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan on the outside. Both are young, explosive players that should help quarterback Alex Smith be productive this season. Not too mention the 49ers have hybrid tight-end and freak-of-nature Vernon Davis to help in the pass game and with run blocking. On paper, this unit should excel this season, but there is a big difference between what should happen and what will happen.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR - Michael Crabtree
WR - Josh Morgan
WR - Brandon Jones
WR - Jason Hill

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Tight End Depth Chart
TE - Vernon Davis
TE - Delanie Walker 2010 San Francisco 49ers Offensive Line Over the past three seasons, no team has allowed more sacks (150) than San Francisco. Further, while the running game was assumed to be the team's biggest offensive threat in 2009, the team finished a disappointing 25th in average yards per game. Both of these noted problems are direct results of the team's poor offensive line, but the team hopes that new first-round pick Anthony Davis will help with that situation in 2010 by replacing Adam Snyder.

The play of the team's guards has been equally inefficient in the past few seasons. Right guard, Chilo Rachel, has been called the most talented 49ers blocker around. However, his inconsistent and at times sporadic play has made him a questionable asset to the team. Rookie, Mike Iupati, who was selected with the 16th pick, is likely to start immediately on the left side. Despite everything, though, with a line consisting of Joe Staley, Eric Heitmann and Rachal, you can expect the the 49ers to be able to protect their skill players' much more effectively in the 2010 NFL Season.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Starting Offensive Line
LT - Joe Staley
LG - Mike Iupati
C - Eric Heitmann
RG - Chilo Rachal
RT - Anthony Davis2010 San Francisco 49ers Defensive LineWhether it be because of their offensive ineptness, or just because of their talent and athleticism, the defensive side of the ball has been San Francisco's strength in recent seasons. Greg Manusky's 3-4 system relies heavily on the production of speedy linebackers like Patrick Willis and Manny Lawson being able to keep completions from becoming breakaway big gains. Said players were successful in this last season, and there is no reason to think that 2010 will be any different.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Starting Defensive Line
DE - Isaac Sopoaga
NT - Aubrayo Franklin
- Justin Smith2010 San Francisco 49ers LinebackersThe linebacker unit is perhaps the most solid of any in the 2010 San Francisco 49ers Preview. The unit is led by inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who anchors a unit that ranked sixth in run defense. In the 3-4 base scheme run by the 49ers, the linebackers are a critical piece to the unit. Fellow inside linebacker Parys Haralson is also solid next to Willis. On the outside, Manny Lawson and Takeo Spikes round out one of the stronger aspects of the San Fransisco 49er defense.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Starting Linebackers
OLB - Takeo Spikes
- Patrick Willis
ILB - Parys Haralson
OLB - Manny Lawson
2010 San Francisco 49ers SecondaryLast season the team ranked fourth in points allowed with 17.6 per game. The 49ers have made it clear that Nate Clements will start at cornerback this season. However, despite being a starter last season, the team did unexpectedly bench him during a Colts game last year. Clements is an undeniable talent when it comes to bringing players down with strong tackles, but his speed has always been a question mark. Further, he has yet to prove himself as the shutdown corner that many expected him to be when he signed with the team in 2007. On the other side, though, Shawntae Spencer is expected to be as quietly efficient and effective as he was last year. The team's second round pick, Taylor Mays, reportedly made a great initial impression on the coaching staff. Word around the camp is that he could challenge for a starting safety spot opposite the team's rising star, Dashon Goldson.

Projected 2010 San Francisco 49ers Starting Seconday
CB - Nate Clements
CB - Shawntae Spencer
SS - Michael Lewis
FS - Dashon Goldson

2010 San Francisco 49ers Preview