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Young Defense, Old Offense?
April 23 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
A few years ago the 49ers set out to revamp their defense. Clearly the team needed help on the defensive side of the ball after ranking dead last in overall defense in the NFL. The team immediately turned to the draft for that help, seeking young players. Now, several years later, the defense has become much more competitive, the depth chart is chock full of young prospects - but what about the offense?

The 2002 draft followed the defensive theme that has become popular with the 49ers. Aside from Bryant Young, Dana Stubblefield, and Derek Smith, the defense is all relatively young - and getting younger. While there is a learning curve here, the tremendous upside more than counteracts that. The offensive side of the ball seems to be the polar opposite though.

Young offensive starters include: Eric Johnson, and Jeremy Newberry. Sure Owens isn't so old and Barlow and Tai Streets see a fair bit of play time, but the 49ers offense is getting on its years. A veteran group across the squad, the 49ers offense has not been an issue to really worry about lately. It's been contested that its too conservative, but very little is debated about the talent level of this group.

The problem arises a few years down the line. A time when guys like Owens and Stokes will be in their double digit seasons. A time when the offensive line will be full of players in their late thirties. A time when the youngest offensive starters on the team may be four or five year veterans.

The 49ers defense still needs work. The team however can not afford to continue to avoid the offensive side of the ball. Look for the team to try and find some undrafted free agents who may be able to help the 49ers with offensive depth. The 2003 draft should also have a more 'offensive' focus.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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