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Off-season Success?
March 19th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
With the signing of four out of five of the 49ers own free agents this off-season, 'experts' all over the media are already calling the 49ers off-season a huge success. Now I don't disagree, but I do think that this pre-emptive notion is a little early. Certainly in bringing back Newberry, Beasley, Hearst and Willig and even in locking up Zack Bronson to a longer deal, the team has made great progress this off-season. They have virtually guaranteed that they will not see a significant drop off at almost any position in comparison to last season.

The off-season is however still quite young. It's hard to declare any team successful at this point as one of the biggest variables - the draft, has not even occurred yet. A successful draft, like the team has experienced over the past two seasons would in my opinion bring the 'successful off-season' title to the team. A free agent pick up or two later, and the 49ers could be a much improved team over last year talent wise.

However better personell does not always bring more wins. The 49ers over achieved last season, finishing with about four more wins than most people would have figured, and it will be hard for the team to repeat such a performance even with a talent up grade. Talent does not always bring wins (see Washington's attempt to buy a Super Bowl the past few seasons for more info on that), and it will take another great coaching job from Mariucci and his staff in order to bring the 49ers anywhere near the promised land. The front office needs to recognize that, and in so doing, the front office needs to provide Mariucci with the comfort of a longer contract waiting in the wings for him regardless of whether he improves upon last season or not - because the improvement may not come in the way of wins, if this years squad achieves at the level it should, rather than over-achieve, more wins many not come the 49ers way, but certainly as the talent base builds up from last season and this season, with the continued tutelage of the current coaching staff improvement has to be seen.

Providing the 49ers have that good draft, and find at least one free agent to either fill in for a starter in the way Terry Killens did last season or take over a starting position - perhaps along the offense or defensive line, the 49ers off-season can be deemed a real success. Until then, take the events of this off-season for what they were, but don't discount Mariucci's staying with the team as a small part of next season's success.

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