Looking Like The End Of Last Season
September 17, 2001
As the 49ers pulled off a late late show against Atlanta, it was difficult not to notice the similarities with the team that took to the field last season in games against Kansas City, Atlanta and Chicago.
The defence held firm, and the offence moved the ball but scored fewer points than could reasonably be expected. With four new starters on defence, and coming off two dreadful pre-season performances the Niners still managed to field a competitive unit which held the Falcons to 13 points and kept them from running out the clock in the fourth quarter.
At the end of the game, the offence moved the ball freely and scored on three out of their last four possessions.
However, regardless of how many yards the offence gained, it still needs to get the ball in the end zone more. In last years Chicago game, Jeff Garcia was 36 - 44 passing with Terrell Owens catching an NFL record 20 of those passes. For all that production though the team still scored only 17 points. If San Francisco is to make a move up the standings this year, then they'll need to score more points rather than rely on a defence that features five starting second year players and three rookies who look to contribute this season.
The NFC West - what to expect from the rivals
Atlanta - Once again Jamal Anderson is the focus of the offence. Chris Chandler is past his prime and the offensive line is hugely underwhelming. The top three receivers are all past thirty. Terrence Mathis is the danger man. Michael Vick can run. So can Kordell Stewart. Not what you would call the best player in the draft. The defence looks to be above average, with the veteran secondary the pick of the three units. Look out for Keith Brooking at middle linebacker.
Carolina - Chris Weinke and co got lucky against Minnesota when the Vikings assumed that all they had to do was turn up. That said, they fought hard and deserved their victory. First round linebacker Dan Morgan should be the real deal, and last years top two picks Rashard Anderson and Deon Grant look capable of producing. Grant in particular is one to watch out for.
New Orleans - Aaron Brooks could be a star. They have two first round draft picks at running back. They have good receiving talent. The line is a strong unit. On defence, their front four is one of the top five in the league, and they can expect solid linebacking play once again. Sammy Knight is dangerous at safety. Their only real weakness lies at cornerback. If opposing passers have enough time to throw then they could give up big yardage through the air and enough points to lose.
St Louis - Mike Martz is an excellent offensive play caller, but as a head coach the jury is still out. Everybody knows about the offence but Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk look extremely vulnerable to injury. The new defence held Philadelphia to 17 points, but so will many other teams. Two of their three first round picks were reaches and none started on opening day. They went from potentially having two top defensive ends to none with the trade of Kevin Carter to Tennessee and Grant Wistrom's injury. Given their scheme they should give up fewer big plays. Teams should still be able to move the ball on them and score points though.
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