49ers Clubhouse 

Ready or not, here we go 

by Tom Simonalle
Clubhouse Staff Writer

The 2001 San Francisco 49ers season is upon us. The mini camps, training camp, and pre-season are all history. Now itís time to show what all the hard work and preparation has accomplished.

First up on the schedule is the Atlanta Falcons. Three years removed from a Super Bowl berth, the Falcons still resemble the team that lost to the Denver Broncos in the Big Game. Chris Chandler is there and so is a "healthy" Jamal Anderson. They also have Tony Martin back, after a stint in Miami.

A fairly good defense on the other side is also there. With a solid defensive line, good linebackers, and an excellent back field of Ashley Ambrose and Ray Buchanan at the corners and Marty Carter and Ronnie Bradford at saftey, theyíll be a good test for the Niner offense.

The defense will be tested early and often by Anderson trying to soften up the middle, so Chandler can use play action against the young secondary. A strong pass rush by tackles Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield, and ends Andre Carter and John Engleberger is critical.

And the Falcons may even sprinkle in a few plays for the number one over all draft pick, Michael Vick. The 49ers have had problems with mobile quarterbacks in the past. 

But that was then, this is now. And it could be a promising opening to the season if everything clicks. And you know that Garrison Hearst is just chomping at the bit to get back into real game action, especially against the team that he broke his ankle against and kept him out of action for the past 2 and 1/2 years. If Jeff Garcia And Terrell Owens get off to a fast start, it could be a long day for the "Dirty Birds". Add power and speed from rookie tail-back Kevan Barlow, and the big play ability of J.J. Stokes and Tai Streets, and it might not even be close. And that would go a long way in providing the young 49ers the confidence they need to get off to a fast start. And with New Orleans and St. Louis on the horizon, even more so. 

So letís get ready for some football and some fun. This is the most exciting time of the year. Everybodyís going to come flying out of the gate with one mission and this is where it all begins.

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