The 49ers are a model organization, which is the biggest reason to believe they’ll be serious contenders for a Super Bowl slot in the second half of the season.
The front office, mainly general manager Trent Baalke, prepared well for this season, keeping the team mostly together and improving it with free agent signings. The result is a roster so deep that good players are inactive, waiting their turn.
Chief among those is Brandon Jacobs, signed for his ability to run for first downs and touchdowns inside the red zone, where the Niners had problems last season. Jacobs was injured early and inactivated. He’s healthy now, but the team is doing well with the tandem of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, so Jacobs hasn’t been activated. If either back is injured, he’s available.
It’s much the same with the 49ers’ draft picks, none of whom have been activated. Some critics have said that’s because they were bad selections, which is not true. They’ve just been drafted by a team which had only one weakness — at wide receiver — which was addressed in free agency. Combined with Michael Crabtree’s maturity and the return to health of Ted Ginn Jr., the 49ers are now deep in their receiving corps. So, top draft pick A.J. Jenkins has to practice and learn as he waits his turn.
The one question the 49ers had coming into the season was at right guard, with Adam Snyder leaving as a free agent. But Alex Boone has moved from tackle and done a very good job, probably better than Snyder. That’s a result of great position coaching, another strength for the 49ers.
This is a coaching staff which rivals those of the Bill Walsh era, so good, there’s a question how long it can stay together. Offensive coordinator coach Greg Roman will get coaching offers after the season. Special teams coach Brad Seely may, too.
Sometimes, coaches are content to stay as assistants. Bobb McKittrick, a superb offensive line coach for Walsh and George Seifert, was offered the Rams’ offensive coordinator job, and a nice pay increase. McKittrick went to club president Carmen Policy and said he didn’t want to leave, but he had to think of his family. Policy matched the Rams’ offer and McKittrick stayed.
I don’t know Roman, Feely and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio well enough to predict whether they’d leave for a job promotion. My guess is that Roman is the most likely to leave. In the meantime, we can enjoy their contributions here.
Otherwise, the 49ers are in excellent shape. The bye week came at a perfect time, midway through the season, so they’ve had a chance to get as healthy as players can be during the grueling NFL season.
The first half went well, except for the disaster against the New York Giants, when Alex Smith had a sprained finger that obviously affected his throwing. Given some time to recuperate, he came back with an 18-of-19 performance against the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers beat the Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, their chief divisional competitors in the first half. They should beat the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and continue on to another NFC West title.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.