Saturday, June 2, 2012

What to Expect From Niner Newcomers

Well, we've talked at length about the draft choices the 49ers made back in April and the effect we believe each will have with the team in the 2012 season. And with mini-camps going on all over the country these last few weeks, I wanted to go through the small list of free agent additions the 49ers made this offseason and list what will likely be expected from each.

Mario Manningham, WR: He was likely the biggest impact free agent the 49ers signed this spring. He should come right in and start immediately opposite of Michael Crabtree, which should not only take pressure and focus of #15, but also open up more space for Vernon Davis to do his thing as well. He's had some injury issues the last couple of season with the Giants, but he seems to come up huge in every big game he appears in, and poses both a vertical and possession-receiving type threat. He'll still likely be option #3 behind the guys Alex Smith is most comfortable with, Crabtree and Davis, but I have a feeling he and Alex will hit it off and make a nice connection. The most important factor though with the Manningham signing is it gives a team that couldn't pass for it's life in the NFC Championship, a much more formidable receiving corps.

Moss Impressing
Randy Moss, WR: Moss was the first addition the 49ers made way back in March, and I really liked the move. Moss has been away from the game a year and is supposedly working with renowned motivation and focus. He knows darn well this is not going to be the Patriots offense where he'll get his 100 yards and TD each week. His role will be more to stretch out defenses and keep them honest on the deep ball while opening up the underneath for guys like Davis and Crabtree. If there was one element to the 49ers offense that was missing the most, it was lack of vertical threats in the passing game. Not only did they draft a nice one in the first round, they also brought in Moss. At the same time, Moss will have some work to do in training camp in order to convince the 49ers staff that he's still a play maker. The 49ers all the sudden went to having no receiving depth to having quite a few options, and the best 3 guys out of Crabtree, Manningham, Jenkins and Moss are going to see the most game action come September.

Brandon Jacobs, RB: Jacobs presents a possible solution to another problem the 49ers had last season, and that is short yardage situation where they have to run to ball in order to keep a drive alive. Last season, Gore was used a lot more sparingly, and the 49ers don't want him taking all that punishment between the tackles in short yardage situations and that's why they brought in Jacobs. While Jacobs hasn't been great for the Giants the last few years, he's shown up motivated, lighter and quicker to 49ers headquarters this spring. If he can get back into his 2009 mode, it would really complete the 49ers trio of rushers. They have Gore for the majority load, Kendal Hunter as the speedy C.O.P back and now hopefully Jacobs as the bruiser to get that 3rd and 1 when they need it.

Josh Johnson, QB: Johnson was linked to the 49ers in rumors last fall before the NFL trade deadline when the 49ers weren't quite sold on Colin Kaepernick as the #2 QB in his rookie season. The 49ers are still saying Kaepernick is their QB of the future, but he's apparently not making the progress the team was hoping he would, as quickly as expected. That prompted them to go out and get a proven NFL backup and one that Jim Harbough knows quite well from his days coaching at San Diego State when Johnson set school records for passing yards and TD's. I was all for going after him last fall, so I definitely like the move of bringing him in now. I would have no problem with him closing out a game or starting one in emergency should Alex go down with an injury at some point in 2012.

Parrish Cox, CB: This signing is a lot like the Randy Moss deal. The 49ers protected themselves in-case Cox gets crazy off the field again, but I personally don't think he'll be an issue. He got off to a nice start in Denver with a strong rookie year in 2010, but didn't play last season due to disciplinary actions. He's apparently got his head on straight, and if he can return to form like the 49ers are expecting, he'll end up being a tremendous steal at the price the 49ers got him for. At the same time, if he doesn't work out or fit in, he'll be expendable, just like Moss will be. All in all though, I like the move and I think the 49ers have the influence to keep his nose clean and have him operating at an optimum level. He should figure heavily into the 49ers Nickle and Dime coverage packages.

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