The 49ers had a serious problem last year. They were only able to score when they had good field position. In other words, when they got pinned inside their own 30 yard line, trouble was brewing in the air. They couldn't drive the whole field, and this was a severe problem against Greenbay, when it counted most. They faltered. Not only once or twice, but if Uwaezoke or Levy didn't get a good return, well the 49ers were doomed.
Fortunately though, the 49ers had the best return squad they have had in ages, and managed to get by. This however isn't enough. Getting by an easy team, is well easy. The 49ers are lucky that they didn't have much competition during the year. Or were they? The lack of competition may have been a serious contibutor to the lack of scoring when it counted and the lac of driving the whole field for a score.
This year however we hopefully wont have many oppurtunities to correct this problem. With the signing of RW McQuarters, the kick return team should vastly improve even over the one that scored three touchdowns last year. This is not to say however, that because we should be able to return the ball well, that the 49ers don't have to work on this.
Some of the problems may have occured because of a faltering red zone attack. However the 49ers were quite good inside the opponents twenty when they started passed their thirty of forty yard line. So exactly what is the 49ers problem with the long field?
Well the problem may have already been corrected. It may have been a lack of conditioning of the older players on the team. Not being able to run that many plays, especially late in the game. Becoming slow and sluggish, makeing it easy for the 49ers offense to be picke apart by the opposing defense. Or was it the lack of a safety blanket, othewise know as Jerry the imaculate one Rice. Steve Young didn't gain confidense in his WRs until late in the season. This may have been a factor because he could no longer just dump it off to where he knew that number 80 would be.
Whatever the problem was, it needs to be corrected. Soon. Before the start of the next season the 49ers should be able to score on short, medium and long fields. They have to make sure they don't falter in the oppositions Red Zones, and they have to make sure they don't give up good field position. These problems may have already have been attended to. We will have to wait for the season opener to find out.