Can 49ers Really Take Next Step Up?
May 01, 2002
Last season finished with a 12-4 regular season record and another playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. That defeat prompted a stated desire from team management to upgrade the nickel and dime defenses to enable the team to cope with multiple receiver sets.
Primarily, this was to allow the teams to hopefully defeat the St. Louis Rams for the first time since the end of the 1998 season.
That is one of this seasons primary goals, but last year the teams defense struggled in games at home to New Orleans, in Dallas, and of course the loss in Green Bay.
This year, the team face all three of those teams in the regular season and all have added new weapons to their offensive attacks. Also, the 49ers own offense struggled against not only St. Louis, but Dallas and Green Bay.
The 49ers have long standing rivalries with the Cowboys and Packers, dating back to the early 1990's.
Between them, they won five consecutive Super Bowls, representing the last half decade of NFC dominance.
Now all three all looking to challenge for success once more after the three sides championship rosters fell apart and needed to be rebuilt.
Green Bay have kept their record at or above 8-8 and didn't fall as far as either San Francisco (4-12, 6-10) or Dallas (back to back 5-11 seasons).
The 2002 versions of those teams look to be tough to beat. Both utilize the speed defenses that give the 49ers problems. Both have big armed quarterbacks, even if Green Bays' Brett Favre is in a different league to Dallas' Quincy Carter.
Last season, the Niners D struggled to put pressure on either Favre or Carter and it cost the team as Favre drove his team downfield repeatedly, and Carter turned in the best performance by far of a dismal rookie season.
The teams strategy this off season was to add depth to it's defense, signing free agents Tony Parrish and Sean Moran and drafting cornerback Mike Rumph and linebacker Salman Rasheed amongst others.
If the teams personnel unit has been successful then the teams defense will give it's offense more opportunities to score points.
The only significant move the team made on offense was to replace aging guard Ray Brown with Pro Bowler Ron Stone.
This means that the coaches will have to open up it's playbook, be more aggressive and allow it's players to play. If they are deserving of the teams confidence in them them this will lead to victories against the likes of Dallas and Green Bay and New Orleans.
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