The Season In Review

Before I begin, I would just like to apolagize for the tardiness of this review. Due to exams, I was unable to fully concentrate on my site. Again sorry, and from now on expect the best coverage on the web!

It started and finished the same way. Defeat, agony, questions, too many questions. The 49ers began the season hoping to achieve something they hadn't done since 1994. Win a Super Bowl. If only it was that easy. They brought in a new head coach who was offensive minded, and went on a free agent hunt. Signing key players like: Garrison Hearst, Keving Gogan, Rod Woodson, Gary Anderson and Kevin Greene. They were hoping these players would put them over the hump that was Green bay. Beat the Pack and the season is a sucess, lose and it was a bust.

BUST-- Green Bay won. Though the 9ers won 11 strait, lost Rice and Young in the 1st game, won their division, were perfect against their division, had a 1000 yard rusher and the best Defense in the league, they still failed. Yes one can argue that the refs lost it for us, calling back to TD's, but all that means nothing. The better team won. Green Bay was simply the better team. Now it's time to take a look back at some of the key momments during the season.

Game 1-- Young and Rice are knocked out.
The 49ers answered a question this season that people have been asking for years. Can they win without Rice? They can, and if it wasn't for Warren Sapp taking Rice out on a double reverse with a face mask during this game, we still would not know the answer to that question. All bad things happen for a reason. Rice's injury put pressure on JJ and Terrell to finally take the step to the next level. They took this challenge to hart, and by the end of the season had both managed to record a 100 yard game. The worst was still to come. Later in the game, young was nocked out with a concussion. The doctors cleared him to play later in the game. However they realized they made a mistake afterwards and benched him for the next game. Many including Young were wondering if he would ever play again. Enter Garrison Hearst. He did what we asked him to, run. He averaged 4.7 yards that game, and showed something to 49ers fans that they had not seen in a long time. However he proved he was more then a runner, picking up some of Rice's slack and helping to keep Young healthy the rest of the way. Ok. So you are a head coach in your first year with one of the leagues elite teams,and you have just lost two of the teams best players, not to mention that your team has just failed to score a TD for the first time in 96 games (they would do this 3 more times in the season). What do you do? Cry? Not if you name is Steve Mariucci. Some how some way, he managed to contain his bubbly composure. This was an inspiration to the rest of the team, and several veterans told him not to worry, they'll step it up.

Game 2-- The Druk, a win without Rice
The team stepped up. They had to. They had a rookie Qb starting and two unprove WRs. Had the 9ers not won this game, maybe they would have slipped into mediocracy.

Game 5--The first of Carolina
What would of happened if the 49ers again failed to beat their only real NFC WEST competition? People owuld of wondered what the point of the rest of the seaon was. But they did win, twice, and went onto win their division, recapturing the title rightfully theirs.

Game 8-- Shutout!!!
Not much to happened during this game. The Deffense did something they truly deserved. They shutout another team. The way this game was played was a forsight to what was to come!

Game 9--The dismantling
Only a game worth menchaning because it was VS the arch rivals from Dallas. The 49ers won and began proving themselves as a team to beat, despite a lousy division.

Game 13-- Blown Out, Broken Record
After going 11-1 setting a new franchise record of 11 consecutive wins, the 49ers got slaughtered by the Chiefs, 44-9. Again they failed to score a TD. Many spectators began to wonder just how good the 9ers were.

Game 15--Bye Joe, hello Jery, oh bye bye Jerry
On Monday night infront of a national audience, the 9ers proved there as good as anybody, and Rice proved he is still incredible. On the night that Joe Montana was to have his jersey number retired, Jerry Rice came back. In a way it was a tribute to #16. Rice was named captain for the game, and made his presence know early. He was used as a decoy on his first play, taking half of the Broncos with him. A great coaching tactic. However later the 49ers lost Rice again, this time a broken knee cap, on a TD I would have traded for Rice. Still the 9ers pulled on.

It was this that would either make or break the 49ers season. For years, this game has been dubbed "the real Super Bowl", but the refs and the 9ers were both far from super. We were all waiting for this game. We has a new coach. Hearst who was returning (though he was pulled, something I don't agree with) thus we were supposed to have a two dimenshional attack. It was all great until Favre picked apart the 49ers defense, causing us to fall behind quickly. That brings us to today.

The 49ers addressed many of their errors from last year, but still needed to improve in some areas to become to best of the best. Before the seaon I posted a critism page. Next season, I will do the same, but for now, let see how the 9ers did.
Lack of Intensity--
The 9ers addressed this area well. It may be because of Mariucci's personality, or his preparation. Whatever it was, worked as they managed to stay in controll too.
The dreaded 3 yard pass--
The revised offense stayed away from this for most of the season. However when they were in trouble they still resorted back to it. This pass is only affective if used seldomly, and quickly. This should be further established next year.
Blitz eh?--
They blitzed alot, especially against Denver. Good play calling John Marshall. The O-line managed to jel and as the season progressed got better at picking up the blitz.
Kick returning--
The 9ers vastly improved this over the season. There is however still room for improvement. I would suggest letting Levy return all kicks.
The curse of turnovers--
The 9ers were fine here, until the Championship game.
Definite starters--
As the season progressed the 49ers figured out who was playing where. Cornerbacks and the need for a speedy, young, receiver is still a concern.
With the exeption of Young, Rice and Hearst, most of the injuries were just wear and tear, Good job protecting Young after game 1.
First downs and execution--
With Hearst or any running game, this improves dramatically.
Throwing to WRs--
The 49ers learned that throwing to the WRs is more affective then to running backs in most cases. Hopefully they will practise this more on 3rd downs too, and go to many 3 WR sets next year.

The whole season has just about been covered. Overall the 49ers exceeded expectations, but fell short of the ULTIMATE GOAL. Look for a them to be agressive during the offseason, looking for speed. However, as always the main concern is keeping our own players. Floyd, Stubblefield, Greene, Anderson, Woodson, (the list goes on and on) are all free agents. Dwigth Clark who is in charge of personell is also a free agent, however he will almost deffinately stay. Lowering the amount of 49ers talent on the open market, is key to staying a sucess. With Brent Jones retired, Greg Clark is going to really step it up. Look for Mariucci to really open up the offense, and go with many 3 WR sets. A Hearst and Edwards backfield is for seeable. The 9ers may also move to a 3/4 defense if Sutbblefield gets a way. More speed is needed everywhere! Hope you enjoyed my first of many articles, check back soon!!!

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