Sacramento Bee

Five keys for the 49ers next season
January 15, 2003
By Mike Triplett -- Bee Staff Writer

1 Pretend that the coach matters: Yes, the team still can succeed if Steve Mariucci is a lame-duck coach next season. But it would be far more inspiring if management would just pick a coach -- any coach -- and pretend it believes in him.

2 Spice up the offense: Whether it's Mariucci and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp or not, those booing Candlestick Park fans are right to suggest that this offense can be more explosive. Balance is nice, but the 49ers' offense was more sluggish than balanced in 2002.

3 Add a pass-rusher: It's hard to decide which individual isn't delivering, but as a unit, the defensive line is flat. Andre Carter is a stud. Can they afford a free-agent defensive tackle who can bring some heat?

4 Add a cornerback: The secondary was banged up, so its effectiveness couldn't be evaluated, but with all due respect to Mike Rumph and Jason Webster, something is missing. Unless they improve their second cornerback, teams will attack through the air.

5 Stop neglecting special teams: The 49ers are still rebuilding, but soon they should create a special-teams budget. How about a reliable kicker and a veteran punter? And use a high draft choice on an explosive return man.

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