49ers Clubhouse 

Season Preview 

by Rob Baker
Clubhouse Writer and Draft Analyst



Michael Vick is Atlanta’s great hope of returning the franchise to the Super Bowl. Dan Reeve though has said he’ll sit for a few seasons behind Chris Chandler, but if don’t be surprised if he does start a few games this season, he’ll fill the Geogia Dome with hopeful Falcon’s fans wanting to view ‘the next big thing’. Not much other than Jamal Anderson on offence. Their starting wide outs combined have 23 years between them (Shawn Jefferson and Terance Mathis), so expect 2002 draft pick (top ten probably) to be a wide receiver, to give Vick a target. In defence Jesse Tuggle has been told to retire or be released, leaving them with a week LB line. The secondary is still the major strength of the Falcons with Ashley Ambrose and Ray Buchanan leading the charge. Basically the Falcons will be picking up high draft picks until Vick starts and they have a WR threat and something on defence.

Carolina are beginning their re-building period. They controversially let go veteran Steve Beuerlein, to leave three QBs with a grand total of zero starts between them, and chances are the Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke will start making him the first rookie QB to start of 2001, ahead of Michael Vick, Drew Brees and Quincy Carter. Their rushing game wont help them gain yards, Tshimanga Biakabutuka is a constant reminder to the Panthers about their massive mistake of passing up Eddie George. There receivers Patrick Jeffers, Mushin Muhammad and Wesley Walls should help Weinke to take over from Beuerlein. The defence will be strengthened with the addition of Brentson Buckner and Dan Morgan. The young DBs will start to hit home in a few years. Carolina have something to look forward to in the future, but they have to keep the ball rolling.

Shocked everyone last season. They have remarkable depth everywhere on offence. At QB they have two starters in Aaron Brooks and Jeff Blake. HB has
Ricky Williams and Deuce McAllister. WR have Albert Connell, Joe Horn and veteran Willie Jackson. The OL is full of future starters such as Tom Ackerman, Daryl Terrell and Tutan Reyes. They have one of the best defensive lines in the league, but need improvement from the LBs and DBs, with no real standouts after losing Mark Feilds and Alex Molden. But with a line with La’Roi Glover, Norman Hand, Darren Howard and Joe Johnson, you don’t need anyone else on D.

The best offensive team in the league, point out a weakness. There is none. They have Pro-Bowl calibre starters, and quality backups all over the place. Defence is a well published weakness, but they’ve brought in a load of youngsters to help. Damione Lewis, Ryan Pickett and Adam Archuleta will start, but other rookies pushing for a spot include Brian Allen, Tommy Polley and Jerametrius Butler. With the inclusion of Aeneas Williams and Cedrick Jones, this is a much improved Rams side, and will again be in the running for a Super Bowl Title, but a much better chance than last year.

QB: Jeff Garcia name may one day be in the same breath as Joe Montana and Steve Young, all he needs is a ring. Backups Rick Mirer and Tim Rattay provide good depth and QB is now a strength of the niners, unlike two seasons ago.

RB: Only one back is proven in a bunch of three, maybe four, backs fighting for the starting position. Kevin Barlow is something special. When Mike Shanahan rings you up and tells you that you’ve taken the best back in the draft, believe him, he know what he’s talking about (Terell Davis and Mike Anderson taken in Round 6, Orlandis Gray in Round 4, all 1000 yard rushers). Garrison Hearst is every fans favourite to take the spot, he’s put so much work into it and so much patience, he deserves it. Fred Beasley is a solid FB, makes good blocks, and chances are he’ll carry the ball more often.

WR: Terrell Owens would have to be considered the best WR in the league. After him it’s a big question mark. JJ Stokes, can he live up to his potential, or is he a bust? Tai Streets, can he stop being injured and make an impact? Cedrick Wilson, if the two above him fail, is he good enough, and big enough to fill in? If all those questions end up having an answer of yes, this will be one heck of a bunch. If the answers no, expect more balls to be thrown to TE Greg Clark, and a high pick on a WR in 2002.

OL: If it aint broke don’t fix it. And for the first time in a decade it ain’t being fixed. Ray Brown continues to get better with age. Scott Gragg was kept, and the rest of the starters, Dave Fiore, Jeremy Newberry and Derrick Deese make this one hell of a line, though looking around, it’s still underestimated by everyone.

DL: Dana Stubblefeild and Bryant Yound reunite to make this line a monster. Add Andre Carter and either John Engelburger or Chike Okeafor, this is going to be a line of the future. You are you going to double team? Young, and let Stubbie and Carter loose, the rookie and let the to veterans go at your QB. Add to the rotation Reggie McGrew and John Milem, this will give NFC West O-lines something to think about.

LB: Unproven is the word that sums up the LBs. Julian Peterson had an injury-plagued year last season and couldn’t show the damage he’s capable of doing. Derek Smith is with a new team. Jeff Ulbrich only played in four games last season. Jamie Winborn is a rookie. All up, this looks to be something special in a few years time when the youngsters have settled in.

DB: The niners have the best S situation in the league. Lance Shulters, Zack Bronson, John Keith and Ronnie Heard are all young, and all impressive. The corners have a big question mark. Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster need to play as well as they did near the end of the season. Webster would be a Pro-Bowler if we has 6’0” and Plummer has what it takes to succeed in this league.

ST: This is now the overwhelming weakness of the niners. No K that’s played a game or been drafted, and a P with potential, but doesn’t show it. A KR also hasn’t put their hand up yet in preseason games.


1. St.Louis Rams
2. New Orleans Saints
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Carolina Panthers

1. Philadelphia Eagles - Only if Duce Staley stays fit
2. NY Giants - Trying to prove that they aren’t the ‘worst team to make the 
Super Bowl’
3. Arizona Cardinals - Close to the worst D in the NFL will hold them back
4. Washington Redskins - Don’t put your money on Jeff George starting all 
5. Dallas Cowboys - Expect them to be this years easy-beats

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The addition of Brad Johnson to their already 
strong team will do wonders
2. Green Bay Packers - Brett Favre will again make this team better than on 
3. Minnesota Vikings - The tragic loss of Korey Stringer will effect them 
all season
4. Chicago Bears - Need a QB to challenge the above teams
5. Detroit Lions - Marty Mornhinweg will have a tough first year, but I wish 
him all the best

1. Indianapolis Colts - Still need an improved D, but who’ll stop their 
2. Miami Dolphins - Have the D the Colts need
3. NY Jets - The team to watch in a few years time
4. Buffalo Bills - Rob Johnson can stop looking over his shoulder, just need 
to stay conscience after being KO’d 8 of 19 starts with the Bills
5. New England Patriots - Drew Bledsoe is their only decent player after 
suspending troubled Terry Glenn

1. Tennessee Titans - Have been threatening to take home the Super Bowl for a long time, will it be their time now?
2. Baltimore Ravens - Would have gone back to back, but the loss of Jamal 
Lewis will cost them another ring.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers - Expect Kordell Stewart to fire and give the 
Steelers a chance of making the play-offs
4. Cleveland Browns - Cleveland will be this years biggest improvers
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Salary Cap has killed there chances of a Super 
Bowl title
6. Cincinatti Bengals - Who else would round off the AFC Central?

1. Denver Broncos - Three 1000 yard RBs, and a new defense will give them a  sniff at another Super Bowl
2. Oakland Raiders - Even Jerry won’t help them knock of Denver
3. Seattle Seahawks - Seattle are close to finishing their makeover
4. San Deigo Chargers - Will be a much improved team
5. Kansas City Chiefs - Dick Vermeil hasn’t got too much to work with



DIVISION WINERS: St.Louis, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia
WILDCARDS: New Orleans, Green Bay, NY Giants

DIVISION WINNERS: Indianapolis, Tennessee, Denver
WILDCARDS: Miami, Oakland, Baltimore

NFC Championship Game: Tampa Bay v. St. Louis
AFC Championship Game: Denver v. Tennessee

Super Bowl: Tampa Bay v. Tennessee

NFL Champion: Tampa Bay

49ers Regular Season
Falcons W Niners will come out fighting and be far too good
@Saints L Saints’ defence will be just too strong
Rams L Close, but young D will hurt the niners too much
@Jets L Niners could pull an upset if Jets haven’t got a grip on 4-3 defence
Panthers W Niners’ youth will be far better than they young Panther cubs
@Falcons W A closer game than week 1, but the 49ers will be too strong
@Bears W With a weak QB at the helm, the niners will win easily
Lions W Very close game, not the return to the bay Marty was hoping
Saints L Closer at 3com, but Saints still too good
@Panthers W Will bounce back after loss to Saints to rip Carolina to shreds
@Colts L Too good of an offence for the niners
Bills W Niners defensive backs will have to be at their best
@Rams L The Rams will need this win to keep hold of the top of the NFC West
Dolphins L Miami’s defence is just too strong
Eagles L McNabb is just too good
@Cowboys W This years easy beats will be no match
Final Record: 8-8
Pro Bowlers: Terrell Owens and Bryant Young

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