Young and Younger
October 9 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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A quick look at the 49ers defense and its clear, the team is very young on that side of the ball. In fact entering the 2002 season, the average age of the defense was 25.4 years old - a stark contrast to the team of 1997. The young defense has been built up through solid drafting in early rounds. In fact, of the 49ers 24 defensive players, 15 of them were drafted in the first three rounds. Over the past three years, the 49ers first round picks have all gone to defensive players, in Mike Rumph, Andre Cater, Julian Peterson and Ahmed Plummer.
This is the second consecutive year that the 49ers have the youngest defense in the league, and while the average age is 25.4, the youngest position on the team is actually 23.8, cornerback - where the oldest position on the team is 30.6 years old, and that position is defensive tackle.
Actually, itís not just the defense that is young. The overall age of the team is 26, with the offense averaging 26.7 years, and the special teams at a young 24.7 years. The team can be considered even younger if you consider NFL experience instead of actual age.
The average of NFL experience on the team is only 3.9 years old. The offense is a veteran 4.5 years of age, where the defense has 3.7 years to its name. The special teamís is an unbelievably young 1.3 years of experience.
The 49ers are one of the youngest teams in the league, there is little doubt about that. As Terry Donahue continues to implement the plan set forth by Bill Walsh, the team may actually get younger - phasing out the veteran players for younger and cheaper rookies. Still the team needs to establish a fine balance between veteran leadership and young jubilance.