It's a Whole New Team - 05/01/99
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With the moves the 49ers have made so far this offseason, they really are a whole new team. Other then some key players, the 49ers have completely turned over the team from what it was last year, and compared to where it was when Mariucci first took over, the teams is milestones from the way it was. For better or for worse is the question, and we wont know the answer until the season starts, however by analyzing the changes the 49ers made, we may be able to predict the outcome.

The 49ers lost a lot of former starters from the team. The 49ers traded or released the following players, Antonio Langham, Marqueze Pope, Terry Kirby, Marc Edwards, James Williams, Steve Gordon, Jamie Brown, Roy Barker, Randy Kirk, Irv Smith, Kevin Gogan, Ty Detmer and Frank Pollack. Along with this list there are potential retirees in Kirk Scrafford and Chris Doleman. The 49ers managed to replace most of these players with either depth from last years draft, a few trades, this years draft and a few free agent signings.

The defensive backfield was brutal last season. That is why it is no surprise that Pope and Langham are no longer 49ers. Replaceing them are R.W. McQuarters and Darnell Walker. Both of whom saw a lot of action last season due to the injuries of the afformentioned starters. The 49ers also drafted Anthony Parker, a big corner who will give Walker a run for the starting job, and Pierson Prioleau a safety who is a big hitter, and may be converted to corner. The 49ers would like to add one veteran to this group, possibly free agent Ashley Ambrose.

On the defensive line the 49ers were hit hard last season. Bryant Young went down with an injury and suddenly they were helpless against the run. The NFC West this season has big name running backs, such as Garrison Hearst (he's with us), Marshall Faulk, Ricky Williams, and Jamal Anderson. They had to do something about their defensive line, and they did drafting, defensive tackle Reggie McGrew. McGrew is projected as a starter, first along side Junior Bryant, then when Bryant Young returns around mid-season, to work along Young. McGrew is big against the run, and can collapse a pocket, he will coordinate nicely with Young. With the almost definate retirement of Chris Doleman, and the loss of Roy Barker, the 9ers needed to worry about their ends too. The have Gabe Wilkins to play on one side, and have drafted Chike Okeafor to hopefully start on the opposite one. When Bryant Young returns, Junior Bryant will be rotated at every position on the defensive line. The 49ers are also planning on adding Charles Haley to this mix.

The loss of Ty Detmer lead the 49ers to look for a backup QB, and possibly a successor to Steve Young. Bill Walsh thinks he found that in CFL MVP of last season, Jeff Garcia. Garcia, is young, mobile, can throw on the run and has a winning spirit and experiance. He will most likely get the backup job over troubled Jim Drukenmiller. The 49ers have also brought in Mark Garcia, a rookie who backed up Joe Germaine last season. He is a long shot right now to make the team.

On the offensive line, the 49ers lost Jamie Brown and Kevin Gogan. They are not worried though, because they are still pretty solid with Dave Fiore, Derrick Deese, Chris Dalman, and Ray Brown. One of last years draftees, either Chris Rhuman or Jeremy Newberry will also play at tackle, moving Deese to his natural position, guard.

The 49ers have lossed a lot of players this off season. However they have added some youthful prospects that may have a great future with the team. They have also added about 25 rookie free agents, and are hoping about 8 will make the final cut. There have been a lot of changes to the 49ers over this offseason, and by the looks of things, it may be for the better.
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