It's about that time of year when football training camps will be starting up all across the nation in a week, and we start shifting some of our focus back to the gridiron.
Moss Should Help WR's
Things have been extremely quiet on the player movement front for both Bay Area franchises, but expect to start seeing some serious football articles in papers and on the internet over the next few weeks. For me, I like to focus on a particular area on each team to see how things shake out early in the preseason. With the 49ers, this year it will be their receiving corps. They did a major overhaul to that department in the spring, and have a lot of new faces for Alex Smith to develop chemistry with. First and foremost, of course, has to be a guy who many are expecting to either be a blessing, or a train wreck, and that's Randy Moss. So far, in mini-camp workouts, Moss has drawn rave reviews from 49ers staff and his new quarterback, but he's not the only new guy in town expecting balls thrown his way. Moss has always been the central figure of his teams passing attack, but that may not be the case in San Francisco. The Niners also used their first round pick on Illinois speedy wideout, A.J. Jenkins, and he's expected to challenge for a starting spot this summer. Finally, the 49ers also added Mario Manningham from the Giants, another guy who's used to having the ball thrown at him half a dozen times per game. You mix those guys in with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Delanie Walker and all the sudden the 49ers go from having a limited passing attack to a potentially wide open one. Should be interesting to see if that shifts their focus away from being so run-heavy on offense?
Big Year for CP-3
Across the bay, the Raiders didn't have near the cap space the 49ers did, so their moves were all much more under-the-radar this offseason. They did managed to get their star safety, Tyvon Branch, locked up long term last week though, and they feel like they have the pieces in place to be a contender. They started last year off well with much of the same cast, and they're hoping they get a little more luck in the health department this time around. Obviously Darren McFadden will be very key to this teams success, but they aren't going to win many games unless Carson Palmer reverts back to his Bengal form. He was very sporadic during his run with the Raiders last year, but a lot of that can be attributed to his half-season layoff and trade to a new team. This time around, he won't have those excuses, and the Raiders paid dearly in order to get him, so they'll be counting on him to be there guy for a couple of seasons here. This will be his first training camp with the Silver and Black, and he has to use it to get in tune with his wideouts and learn the O-line, something he was never really able to do after the trade last year.