The 49ers, once the most dominant team in football for two decades, have struggled mightily to regain a semblance of that Championship glory since that dreaded day in 1999 when Steve Young's career was ended by a vicious concussion that directly resulted from the criminal, Lawrence Phillips being a matador instead of a blocker.
Since that time, the niners have gone through a complete recycling of players and front office personel, and as Steve Young eloquently put it in today's draft, speaking about the complete player and front office turnover that began in 2000, "they were basically an expansion team". The beloved team owner, Eddie Debartalo was forced to hand over his share of the team to his sister and her sadistic husband, Dr Evil York. York, a man with absolutely no football acumen, proceeded to run the 49ers like a corporation, focusing on penny pinching rather than winning. The following seasons were a dark time know as the "Mariucci /Jeff Garcia Era", which was polluted with uninspired play calling and playing not to lose.
Garcia, while being a talented QB, was nowhere near the standard of excellence commanded by the starting QB of the SF 49ers. He was an excellent backup, thats it. It was a sign of the times, that no longer do the 49ers care about being the Champs, they just want to be a wildcard contender.
After the outcry of the fans became to loud to ignore, Dr. Evil York finally relented and brought in Mike Nolan, a classy guy, to change the direction of the ship that he steered into the depths of football ****. He agreed to let Nolan do his thing before the NFL stepped in and stripped the team away.
Mike Nolan has delivered thus far, keeping the niners in playoff contention until late in the season. Alex Smith, not a popular pick when drafted #1 overall, has developed nicely and may actually be a winner. Frank Gore has been an absolute gift, running all over defenses last season, while we were able to keep the last remaining piece of our 1994 superbowl winner, Bryant Young. This is the most critical part of the puzzle as he is able to hand down the niner traditions to the youth...all is not lost. We drafted Vernon Davis last season, and he appears to be ready to bust out this season. Our defense has played ferociously all last seaons, I watched them in person a few times, they are definitely for real, they just have to mature a little bit.
I think this season's success will be completely based on the play of Alex Smith. If he flys so does the team, and if he sinks...so does the team. Norv Turner was a huge catalyst for Smith's success last season (And the offense as a whole), so losing him hurt. However, Mike Nolan is a smart guy who doesnt put Alex into situations that are too big for him, and Frank Gore has proven himself as a real threat, so that should really take off the pressure and allow the passing game to open up. Our defense is solid, yet we need to be able to stop the run better, and with Mannie Lawson having a season under his belt, picking up Nate Clements at CB, and a strong draft, this might be our season.