2008 49ers Season Preview Part III
When I am wrong I am more then willing to admit it, in fact I have eaten crow quite emphatically more then a few times in my 34 years. If I am wrong about something I want to know about it so that I might be allowed to correct myself and endear myself to you the reader. Truth be told though I honestly don’t place much stock in whether or not someone approves of me or my opinion. I am not here to make friends, in fact I don’t even like friends, they’re overrated. No, I am here to state my opinions and do my best to give insight into the sport of football in general and the San Francisco 49ers in particular.
So allow me to be the first to say that I was wrong, at least for now, in my earlier assessment of one John Thomas O’ Sullivan. I recently stated that I did not believe the journeyman quarterback possessed the necessary skills to lead this or any other team on the field. Being bounced around the league like a diseased hot potato will elicit that form of thought in coaches and fans alike. I failed to fathom how if a man did indeed possess the intangibles and overall athletic ability to be named a starting quarterback in the NFL, he could be overlooked for so long. How did so many coaches and GM’s miss on this amazing talent by signing him and subsequently releasing him a few months or a few years later? This was my take on the JTO show landing in the bay earlier this year.
O’Sullivan was never expected to challenge for the starting position, that war was supposed to be waged between former first overall pick Alex Smith and JT’s fellow team jumper, Shaun Hill. If the spring mini-camps and OTA’s were any indication that is exactly how it would have been played out once training camp opened. It transpired that way at first with Smith and Hill taking the lion’s share of the first team snaps in practice and O’Sullivan being relegated to working with the practice squad. Something happened shortly thereafter, Smith began showing signs of confusion and not knowing where his receivers were going to be at on any given play. Then Hill was said to have a sore and tired arm causing the coaching staff to require him to take a few days off. The rest is history as O’Sullivan was almost immediately placed with the first team offense and has not looked back since.
I say this only because it has been and is my inclination to have Smith starting when the season opens up in less then one week. I was never sold on O’Sullivan as any form of long term solution to the quarterbacking woes of this team, I’m still not. However after his performance in Chicago against the vaunted Bears defense I do believe that JTO gives this team the best chance to win out of the three men we have on the roster now. That of course could change as the season trudges on and Smith learns more of the offense and increases his aptitude on the field. He had better be ready to do so just in case O’Sullivan fails to produce and the fans are clamoring for him to start once again. Overall I am not as worried about JT getting the starting nod for week one as I was just a few weeks ago but that is not to say that I am completely sold on him either.
Now onto the matter at hand, games 9-12 of the upcoming season.
November 10, 2008 – @ Arizona
The second meeting of the season between these teams and the importance of the match-up will very much depend on where they are record wise when the game takes place. Will either or both of them be in the running for the NFC West title at midseason or will they be manning their usual position as bottom feeders in the division? While I have no discernable way to ascertain what the answer to that question is, I always give my best effort in attempting to give an accurate depiction of what I think is going to happen. I see this game going squarely in the 49ers favor as the offense should be running strong by this time and the defense anchored by Willis will be ranked in the top 10 overall. The Cardinals won’t go quietly however being that they are at home for this contest and will have a certain amount of revenge to exact from their division rivals. In the end it won’t matter as Gore puts up another great game and the defense stymies Warner and Co. 49ers 34 Cardinals 17
November 16 – vs. St. Louis
Believe it or not this is the first meeting of the season between the 49ers and Rams, I can’t remember the last time these teams had their initial game so late in the season. A great deal will already be determined when this game takes place, most importantly whether or not either team was able to capitalize on the new season and improve on a 2007 season that saw both fall well short of their own expectations. The Rams were able to convince running back Steven Jackson to get his tail into camp and quarterback Marc Bulger is somewhat healthy as the season opener approaches so barring anymore setbacks, they should be ready to face a very different 49ers team. San Francisco’s receiving corps will be sporting a look that the Rams secondary has not seen before as Isaac Bruce faces the only other team he has ever played for and newcomer Bryant Johnson presents a new look as well. 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz will also be squaring off against his former team and attempts to show them the mistake they made in letting him go before the 2006 season. This game should hinge on defensive play and the ability for either team to get off the field on third downs as two potent offenses will have the ability to make it a long day for their opponent. 49ers 21 Rams 17
November 23, 2008 – @ Dallas
There was a time when the outcome of this game might have been a tough call. Not so much in 2008 as the Cowboys are being predicted by many to not only win their division but the Super Bowl as well. Quarterback Tony Romo leads a high powered offense and has a bevy of weapons to target when he is on the field. Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton give Romo big reliable targets at receiver and now that Marion Barber is taking over as the main option at running back there will be more continuity there. On defense Dallas will have somewhat of a new look at Adam “Pacman” Jones has been cleared by the league to play for the Cowboys this season. Along with linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Zach Thomas and defensive tackle Tank Johnson (if he can stay out of trouble) this unit should be able to keep opposing offenses at bay this season. The 49ers will be pressed to get stellar play from the offensive line and quarterback positions as Dallas will no doubt be stacking their line upfront in an attempt to stop Frank Gore and the running game. By all estimations the Niners will be lucky to keep this game close after the first half. Cowboys 28 49ers 17
November 30, 2008 – @ Buffalo
For the second week in a row the 49ers travel to unfriendly confines as they face off against the Buffalo Bills in week 12. Not much has been given to Buffalo in terms of finishing any higher then third in the AFC East this season, much the same way that the 49ers have been graded out for 2008. Bills running back Marshawn Lynch is poised for another excellent season after amassing 1,115 yards on the ground and seven scores in 2007. The Bills will be starting second-year quarterback Trent Edward this season as he managed to push ahead of incumbent J.P. Losman in the training camp battle this summer. Josh Reed and Lee Evans are serviceable receivers who should make like a little easier for Edwards as well as give Lynch some room to run when spreading the field. The Bills lack any big name starters on defense save for linebacker Paul Posluszny and as such they ranked 31st against the pass and 25th against the rush in 2007. Unless their defense suddenly gets an infusion of talent look for more of the same from them this season and for the 49ers to have a productive day on the ground and in the air this week. 49ers 34 Bills 17
Come back later this week where we will look at the remaining four games of 2008 as the 49ers attempt to make a playoff push!
Current projected record: 7-5