I'm curious to know what you think about the realistic expectations to have in regards to Jim Tomsula? From the outside looking in it seems like he streamlined a lot things and the players already love him. So is it possible we have another season like 2011? (John Sheffer)
While I do not believe the 49ers had as bad of an offseason as some suggest, I don’t see the team going from a middle-of-the-pack team to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs like 2011.
There were a lot of elements to the 49ers’ sudden rise to among the elite of the NFL in 2011. First, there is no denying the team received a major upgrade in coaching with the departure of Mike Singletary to the hiring of Jim Harbaugh and his staff.
The 49ers certainly benefited from the Harbaugh bump.
Quarterback Alex Smith might not have won many games by himself in 2011, but he didn’t lose any, either. He went from 10 interceptions in 2010, when Singletary ended up going with Troy Smith as his quarterback, to throwing five interceptions in 16 starts.
Second-year offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati made significant strides after up-and-down rookie seasons. The 49ers scored only three more touchdowns in 2011 than in 2010, but they took care of the ball and controlled the clock. That team won with a grind-it-out offense and a stellar defense.
Justin Smith was at the peak of his career and probably should have been the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. NaVorro Bowman took over for Takeo Spikes and had an All-Pro season. Aldon Smith brought a pass rush the team had not experienced since the days of Charles Haley. And the 49ers received strong play in the secondary from cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, who replaced Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer, and safety Donte Whitner, who took over for Reggie Smith and Taylor Mays.
Obviously, there are a lot of changes with this year’s team. Last year was awful – far beyond the team’s disappointing 8-8 record. It seemed as if the players exhibited little enjoyment amid all the drama. It was the most humorless bunch of people I’d ever seen. The 49ers liken the coaching change to a “breath of fresh air.” And there did seemed to be more enthusiasm from the players this offseason.
Tomsula and his staff spent the offseason working on many of the obvious areas in which last year’s team had shortcomings, most notably, breaking the huddle earlier in the play clock.
The team also worked on screens and a short-passing game, utilizing tight ends down the middle of the field, red-zone offense, red-zone blitz packages, discipline and accountability (on and off the field). But just because the coaching staff identified areas they wish to improve does not mean they’ll be any more successful.
Anyone who thinks this is the worst 49ers’ offseason in history must be forgetting 2004.
That’s the offseason the 49ers retained general manager Terry Donahue and coach Dennis Erickson but replaced both coordinators. The team parted ways with Jeff Garcia, replacing him with Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey. Terrell Owens was traded, and Cedrick Wilson became the top wide receiver. The 49ers said bye to other veteran players in a salary-cap purge and drafted wide receiver Rashaun Woods.
The 49ers went from seven wins in 2003 to two wins and the No. 1 overall pick.
So, while I wouldn’t expect a repeat of 2011, I certainly don’t believe it will be anywhere near as bad as 2004.