The San Francisco 49ers finished the 2011 season with a loss in the NFC Championship game. That loss left the 13 win season they had tasting nothing but bitter. It was the best season that the 49ers have had in about a decade and it was disappointing. Their disappointment has driven them through this off season and has made them one of the teams that has gotten vastly better because of it.
In the Championship game the 49ers only had a few passes that were caught by wide receivers so they focused on that position early and often. They made their first splash at wide receiver with the signing of Randy Moss. Moss is a future Hall of Famer and spent last season out of work. He worked out for Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco and made an impression because he was offered a job that day.
One receiver wasn’t enough for the 49ers. They went out and got themselves one of the heroes of the Super Bowl in Mario Manningham. The Giants didn’t want to see him leave, but the 49ers could promise him more money than the Giants because as good as he was, the Giants have 2 players that are better. So, the 49ers get 2 solid receivers to accompany their one high draft choice in Crabtree.
Once again, the 49ers made a big move by signing a very big man. Frank Gore is their starting tailback but, it never hurts to have an accomplished backup. Brandon Jacobs, formerly a New York Giant, finished last season very strong and looked more like the Jacobs of 3 years ago. He was unhappy with how he was used for the past few seasons, as was I, and now goes to a team that will give him more touches and better play calling for his talents. This move should allow the 49ers to keep Gore fresh and put some of the rushing load on Jacobs.
The biggest signing that San Francisco pulled off this year was Alex Smith. Though he doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves for what happened last season, he was very important in the 49ers success. Early on he was not terribly impressive in his play, but he was smart and allowed the tools around him to win games. As the season went on his confidence grew which allowed his skill level to improve as well. By the end of the season he was just as big a reason that the 49ers were winning games as anyone else on the team. That was evident against the Saints in the playoffs when Smith had to go score for score with Drew Brees and came out on top. He will be the guy to lead the 49ers through the next few seasons and possibly to the Super Bowl very shortly.
San Francisco doesn’t want to have that bitter taste in their mouth anymore. They have made some significant moves this offseason to make them the front runners in the NFC to be in the Super Bowl next year. No one knows how the season will play out, but if the 49ers can stay healthy and continue to improve on last years success then it will be very difficult to beat them.