Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:22 pm

2008 Final Roster and Depth Chart Predictions

These aren't so much predictions as they are my dream final roster but here it goes anyway

Offense (25)

QB1: J.T. O'Sullivan - He has been the best QB in camp and in the preseason and has earned the right to open the season as the starter.
QB2: Alex Smith - Has performed better than Hill in camp and the preseason and the 49ers aren't going to cut him this year like some people think
QB3: Shaun Hill - There is no way the 49ers cut him after giving him a 3 year, $6 million contract

RB1: Frank Gore - I honestly thought DeShaun Foster might beat him out. /sarcasm
RB2: DeShaun Foster - A very capable back-up and MRob hasn't done enough at RB to warrant 2nd string
RB3: Michael Robinson - He is a great special teams player and solid running back that just received a contract extension so he isn't going anywhere
RB4: Thomas Clayton - This is more of a wish than prediction. He has performed so well in the last two preseasons I don't think he will slip through waivers and it would be a shame to lose such a young talent

FB: Zak Keasey - I like Moran Norris but he has been working with the 2nd team all offseason, there is no way we keep to fullbacks, and Keasey looked good against Chicago

WR1: Isaac Bruce - I had hoped that Battle would impress and take this spot but he has been injured
WR2: Arnaz Battle - Even though he hasn't played much this offseason he has played more than Bryant Johnson so should open up ahead of him
WR3: Josh Morgan(R) - He has been a complete beast in the offseason and I think he has overtaken Johnson
WR4: Bryant Johnson - Everyone thinking he would be the #1 WR and him actually #4 is a testament that our receivers are better than they ot credit for
WR5: Jason Hill - Ashley Lelie may be better right now, debatable, but Hill has more upside, won't get cut, and I don't see us keeping 6 receivers

TE1: Vernon Davis - Obviously
TE2: Delanie Walker - We will not keep three tight ends and Walker is a better receiver than Bajema so Martz will use him

LT1: Joe Staley- Switching from the right to the left wil be tough but Staley will do it
LT2: Barry Sims - Very capable back-up with tons of starting experience

LG1: David Baas- If Baas comes back from injury at 100% he is better than Snyder has been this preseason at guard
LG2: Brian De La Puente(R) - Has been really impressive in all three preseason games and provides depth at guard, which we don't have

C1: Eric Heitmann - It looked like Wallace might beat out Heitmann in TC but Heitmann silenced those rumors in the preseason
C2: Cody Wallace(R) - I like him a lot and could see him taking over for Heitmann in a couple of years but not right now

RG1: Tony Wragge - Rachal is coming along slowly and Wragge has been a monster in the preseason
RG2: Chilo Rachal(R) - Like I said he is coming along slowly but he still looked good in the preseason, just not as good as Wragge

RT1: Jonas Jennings - I hate the guy because he is unreliable but when he is healthy he is great, like he has been this preseason
RT2: Adam Snyder - I have always thought he was a better tackle than guard and he will make a good back-up if/when Jennings goes down with an injury

Defense (24)

LDE1: Ray McDonald - He followed up a strong performance at the end of last season with an amazing preseason and deserves to start
LDE2: Kentwan Balmer(R)- All bias aside, he hasn't looked very good this preseason but he obviously won't be cut

NT1: Isaac Sopoaga - He is listed as a starting DE but with McDonald's emergence he should slide inside and perform well
NT2: Aubrayo Franklin - Franklin is a pure NT and might get more playing time than Sopoaga there when we play the 3-4 but Sopoaga will get more total playing time
NT3: Ronald Fields - I really like Fields and think he could start anywhere along the line in a pinch

RDE1: Justin Smith - Pretty obvious choice here. He will be moved around a lot in our hybrid 3-4/4-3
RDE2: Kentwan Balmer(R)

LOLB1: Manny Lawson - He has looked good enough to obviously be the starter but he doesn't seem to be back to 100% yet
LOLB2: Jay Moore- Looked pretty good in the preseason games and should make a adeqaute backup

ILB1: Patrick Willis - ...
ILB2: Dontarrius Thomas - He has looked like a capable back-up in preseason action

ILB1: Takeo Spikes - Hopefully he catches up with the rest of the defense in time to start alongside P.Willy
ILB2: Jeff Ulbrich - He has better than Spikes in preseason play but Spikes should catch up with the defense soon enough. I could see, and am fine with, either one starting

ROLB1: Parys Haralson - Neither him or TBC is a great player by any means but Haralson is listed as the starter right now so...
ROLB2: Tully Banta-Cain - He has come on strong in the preseason, albeit against 2nd string players, and could work his way back into the starting line-up

LCB1: Nate Clements - No explanation needed
LCB2: Donald Strickland - He has performed very well in the preseason
LCB3: Reggie Smith(R) - He has done well but not enough to crack the starting rotation yet

RCB1: Walt Harris - He has been surprisingly beastly this preseason after an off year last year
RCB2: Shawntae Spencer - Arguably has performed better than any of our corners in the preseason
RCB3: Marcus Hudson - Right now he is a little better than Brown, imo, he is more versatile, and he is well liked (he cuts most of the teams hair)

SS1: Michael Lewis - Beast last year
SS2: Keith Lewis - He isn't a great safety but he is an excellent special teams player

FS1: Dashon Goldson - After two great preseason campaigns and tons of playmaking ability Nolan has to start him
FS2: Mark Roman - Nolan has hinted that Roman will be starting but come on

Special Teams (4)

K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
KR/PR: Allen Rossum
LS: Brian Jennings

Practice Squad (8)

Dominique Zeigler, WR
Cam Colvin, WR
Ricky Schimmt, K/P
Markus Curry, DB
Louis Holmes, DE
Joe Cohen, DT
Joe Toledo, OT
Larry Grant, LB
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:20 pm

Preseason Game 4 vs. San Diego Recap

- Alex Smith has steadily improved in every preseason game, at least when it comes to getting rid of the ball quicker. It looked like he was finally throwing the ball to the spot where the receiver was supposed to be and none of his passes were thrown behind the receiver. The first interception was an overthrow but the second was just a great play by that corner. He threw two good passes that could have been touchdowns to Jason Hill an Ashley Lelie but both corners made great plays but he also threw a couple that could have been picked. Shaun Hill looked much worse. He threw one good pass to Hill but other than that attempted only dump-offs and short passes. That interception that he threw we also a lot like Smith's first one but much more overthrown, at least Smith's hit Battle's fingertips

- I like Michael Robinson but he is not a good running back. He has all the physical tools but almost no vision. He is best used a a short yardage back, receiver, and special teams player and I don't think he will ever be a capable running back. Thomas Clayton, on the other hand, has looked amazing. There is no way he is going to clear waivers and he deserves to be on this team. Heck, I would rather see Foster gone because he has done nothing

- Jason Hill has been really impressive and I would say he has had a better preseason than even Josh Morgan . Bryant Johnson looked good, I mean really good, last night and may have won his starting job back. Dominique Zeigler had only one catch but I saw him throwing some nice blocks downfield. Arnaz Battle was running wide open the entire night and if Smith hadn't overthrown him he would have probably had a touchdown. Last night should have been the final nail in Ashley Lelie's coffin but if Martz really likes him that much he will be on the team

- Wow Delanie Walker is fast. I am just amazed that he is our second most athletic tight end. Neither Vernon Davis or Walker really showed much on offense but they didn't have many passes thrown their way. We already knew Billy Bajema was a great blocker but how about that touchdown? He took it right out of the defender's hand

- Both the first and second team offensive lines continued to dominant in pass protection and looked solid in run blocking. Chilo Rachal is starting to look really good and this Brian De La Puente hasn't made a mistake. Joe Staley is looking more and more comfortable, and better of course, with each game. Tony Wragge continues to impress and did anyone notice else Baas playing center last night? I only noticed it a couple of times and I would like to know if he was there all night or if he was moved around.

- Kentwan Balmer was finally making some plays in the second half. He read that screen really well and made a great tackle and was actually starting to either collapse the pocket or take up more than one blocker. Up until this game he had looked terrible so hopefully that is a good sign. Ronald Fields was solid but inconsistent. Two guys that have been surprisingly good this preseason are Walter Curry and Atiyyah Ellison, especially Curry

- Larry Grant put in a solid showing last night and could make the 53-man roster but that dropped interception might have really hurt his case. Jeff Ulbrich continues to look better than Takeo Spikes but that isn't saying much because both looked bad. Manny Lawson looked solid, not bad but nothing special, but will probably be better when the rest of the defensive starters are playing. Dontarrius Thomas looked awful and could have lost his roster spot. Both Tully Banta-Cain and Parys Haralson, maybe even throw Rod Grenn in with them, continue to get pressure. I didn't see Jay Moore. That sack and forced fumble by Dennis Haley was great

- Shawntae Spencer had been really good in the preseason and I think he could be the #2 corner on a lot of teams, like Eric Davis said. Reggie Smith is starting to look like a player with 4 passes defended in the preseason and could work his way up the depth chart pretty far by the end of the season. Mark Roman continued his terrible play from the Bears game and I honestly don't know why he would start over Goldson who has just been flat out better than him all preseason. I didn't see Markus Curry or Tarell Brown, does anyone know if they played? Donald Strickland, after starting the preseason off strong, has gotten progressively worse and there is no way he would make the team without that cap saving clause in his contract. Marcus Hudson might have lost his job when he lost his footing on the game winning touchdown but I would still rather keep him over Brown.

- Andy Lee doesn't seem to be booming punts like last season but hopefully he won't be kicking as much this season. Joe Nedney looked solid as usual.

- The coverage teams were both better with the return of Michael Robinson, like everyone thought they would be. MRob also had an amazing block on the Walker kick return. He absolutely leveled that guy
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:19 pm

Preseason Game 3 @Chicago Recap

QB Analysis:

J.T. O'Sullivan - Wow! Where did that come from? That pass to Davis was great and the touchdown to Hill was an amazing play. 49er fans haven't seen throws like that since Alex Smith in 2006. The biggest thing that JTO did right, though, was not make many mistakes. He didn't try and force something that wasn't there. Was his great performance enough to overcome one terrible game and one mediocre? I guess for now he should be the starter but I am still not completely sold on him. His only mistake was holding onto the ball too long at the goalline when Davis was two yards away wide open. 9/10

Alex Smith - He finally gets a chance to play with the first team offensive line, which has been great this preseason, and they turn into the second team offensive line all of the sudden. He showed great ability to escape the rush and still do something but he wasn't very accurate. Sure he was more accurate than his numbers (6/17) show because there were 4 dropped passes when he was in, he had to spike the ball once, and he had to throw it away once or twice, but he was still nowhere near as accurate as JTO. This was the best chance he had to win he starting job, which is sad when you think about it because he was playing with the first team for the first time in weeks and had no timing with them. He still looked much better than he did in weeks 1 and 2. 7/10

Shaun Hill - Looked good but was playing against third team defense with a huge leade so he wasn't making any tough throws, just short passes. He is still obviously the number 3 QB on the team. No rating

Everyone else

- Were the running backs great or what? Frank Gore was running all over the Bears, that 28 yarder was great. 10 touches for 70 yards in basically 1 quarter. Thomas Clayton came in when the Bears still had their starters in and was great. With his performance in the past two preseasons I find it hard to believe he will clear the waiver wire again to make it to the PS. But that means we have to keep 4 running backs. Gore, DeShaun Foster, and Michael Robinson are all obviously going to be on the team

- Last week I said I didn't want to keep a fullback but Zak Keasey really looked good last night when he was on offense. Not to mention he is a great special teams player. Moran Norris seems to be expendable since Martz doesn't use old-fashioned fullbacks

- I wonder what happened to Josh Morgan. Is this the inconsistency VT fans are telling us about? I don't know yet. A few Alex Smith passes went his way and I think he should have caught 2 of them but he didn't. Jason Hill has gotten progressively better this preseason and looked great last night, except for when he slipped on 3rd down and dropped the pass from his knees. The WR that has surprised me the most is Dominique Zeilger. 14 catches for 148 yards and a TD in 3 preseason games is pretty good, imo. Isaac Bruce looked good as well. We may have to keep 6 receivers, Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Hill, Morgan, and Zeigler. Although we probably could sneak Zeigler onto the PS

- Vernon Davis is looking good. That was a great over the shoulder catch on the pas from JTO and he was open a few other times. He made a nice adjustment to come back for Smith's pass and almost made another great catch. Delanie Walker only got one pass thrown his way when he was open but Smith missed. I don't think we are keepin Billy Bajema

- What can I say about the first team offensive line that I haven't said already. They have just looked great in pass protection all preseason and last night the run blocking was just as good. Tony Wragge was really good last night and Brian De La Puente looked like a decent player. The starting line should be, from left to right, Joe Staley, David Baas, Eric Heitmann, Wragge, Jonas Jennings. The back-ups looked better last night than they have so far this preseason

- The defense overall disappointed me. I don't think the players played poorly but we barely even blitzed and Kyle Orton had all day to throw. The starting run defense looked good aside from the 34 yarder from Kevin Jones.

- The starting defensive line couldn't seem to get any pressure by themselves when last week we barely even needed to blitz to pressure Green Bay. That could be because it was a short week. Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Ray McDonald, and Ronald Fields all looked good while no one else on the dline stood out

- Patrick Willis and Manny Lawson always seem to be around the ball and should back a great LB-duo. Maybe Takeo Spikes just hasn't gotten the defense down yet but he has looked slow these past two games and Jeff Ulbrich has looked better than him. Tully Banta-Cain was good again last night and looks to beat out Roderick Green for a roster spot. I didn't notice much from players like Dontarrius Thomas and Larry Grant but then again we held the ball for almost 11 minutes in the 4th quarter when they would have played

- No secondary can cover for 8-10 seconds and ours is no different. Walt Harris looked great for the third straight preseason game, Nate Clements looked solid, and Michael Lewis made a few mistakes but was okay overall. The player who stood out to me, in a bad way, was Mark Roman. He looked awful. I don't understand why Nolan even put him in with the first team when Dashon Goldson has been great at FS. That PI on Shawntae Spencer was bull. I didn't see Markus Curry at all after a good performance last week but that could be for the same reason I didn't see Grant and Thomas. Donald Strickland failed miserably to knock down that hail mary.

- The special teams this preseason has been terrible. We gave up a TD to Johnnie Lee Higgins, two big returns to Jordy Nelson, and Danieal Manning killed us last night. I will chalk that up to out best gunner, MRob, being out thouhg. We also had a blocked punt and a blocked field goal which there is no excuse for
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:18 pm

Preseason Game 2 vs. Green Bay Recap

My take on the quarterback situation

J.T. O'Sullivan - The game ball? Really? The guy had like three good plays and all three were bad throws. The 23 yarder to Hill was low and behind, the 22 yard corner route to Morgan could have been easily knocked down if the cornerback stuck his hands up, and the 57 yard touchdown to Morgan was extremely poorly thrown. His most accurate throw was probably that first one to Davis on third down. That interception was both a horrible decision and a horrible throw. If I had to give him a rating it would be 8/10

Alex Smith - As I said during the game last night, Smith looked really tense. He had a few overthrows but overall he wasn't much worse than JTO, if at all. He really should have hit Hill on that pass in the endzone but Hill still didn't seem to try very hard to catch it. Not much else to say except that all his passes were a bit off and the second team offensive line once again didn't give him nearly as much time as the first team gave JTO. He really didn't play enough again but he did scored on 2/3 drives. The coaches really need to give Alex some time with the first team to make an informed decision about this. If he doesn't get any time with them this week I think we all realize this QB "competition" is a joke. His rating would be a 7/10

Shaun Hill - It is becoming really clear that last year was a fluke. He has just looked plain average in the first two preseason games, against a lot of players who aren't even gonna be on a team come regular season. He had one nice pass to Zeigler, who made a good catch. 5/10

My observations

- The first team offensive line looked absolutely amazing. They were giving O'Sullivan all day to throw once again and opening some big holes in the running game. The only critique I can give based on last night was that Joe Staley was getting pushed back a little by Cullen Jenkins. The tackles on the second team offensive line looked awful, again, but Chilo Rachal looked good again.

- Frank Gore is gonna be have a monster season. He looked much faster than he did last year. DeShaun Foster looked average again and Thomas Clayton looked okay as well. I seriously want Keasey and Norris cut and to list MRob as FB so we can keep Clayton

- Josh Morgan is a beast. I didn't believe all of the training camp hype but 9 catches for 182 yards and 1 TD in two preseason games is great, especially considering most of his catches were on off-target throws. He could be starting come regular season. Jason Hill also looked great last night. Really nice adjustment and run after the catch on the 27 yarder from JTO and amazing run on the end-around. Another guy who was impressive again was Dominique Zeigler. He could honestly make this team and if he doesn't he is definitely going to the PS. Ashley Lelie is not going to make this team

- Vernon Davis looked good in limited action. Had a great run after the catch on his second reception. One thing that stood out to be was a missed block on a run, though. I didn't see much of Delanie Walker so I guess there wasn't much thrown his way

- The entire first string defense was amazing

- Going off of these first two preseason games, Ray McDonald is looking like a steal from last year. He is getting tons of pressure. Isaac Sopoaga and Justin Smith are looking like they deserved those contracts. The back-ups, most notably Walter Curry, Ronald Fields, and Louis Holmes (again) looked good. Kentwan Balmer had a terrible game getting pushed around almost every play.

- Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis both looked great when they were in as expected. Takeo Spikes looked slow and out of place but he did just get here. Jay Moore looked good for the second week in a row. Dennis Haley and Larry Grant both made a play or two. Tully Banta-Cain was completely owning the Packers' back-ups. Two sacks and two tackles for a loss. Parys Haralson seemed to be getting some pressure on the quarterbacks

- The secondary was completely and utterly amazing. They had almost every Packer receiver on lockdown on almost every play. The starters especially, Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Michael Lewis, and Dashon Goldon, were great. Three back-ups that stood out to me were Markus Curry, Shawntae Spencer, and Donald Strickland, they had a couple of big plays. I have to wonder if Tarell Brown even played because I didn't see him. Reggie Smith had another solid night.

- Allen Rossum was awful until that touchdown. Not only was he not having good returns when there were lanes but he wasn't making fair catches when he should have been

- The coverage units both looked good outside of when Jordy Nelson, who is obviously a beast, was returning kicks

- I like this Ricky Schmitt kid. Too bad he is not beating out Joe Nedney at kicker and there is no way he is beating Andy Lee at punter
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:17 pm

Preseason Game 1 @Oakland Recap

Some of my observations

- Smith is the best quarterback we have by a wide margin. Even though he was constantly under pressure while JTO and Hill had all day he still outperformed both of them. The only thing that bothered me was that his first pass was a little behind Hill but it was his first pass. That 22 yard pass to Battle was the best pass any QB at that game threw

- O'Sullivan is horrible. Even the passes that he completed to Morgan were off target

- Hill quite possibly has a weaker arm than Chad Pennington

- The first string offensive line looked pretty good in pass protection and okay in run protection

- DeShaun Foster looked bad. There were holes but he wasn't hitting them. I am glad he is our back-up

- I don't know if Thomas Clayton will make it to the PS again this year because he has looked good

- Our second string offensive line, most notably Demane Duckett at LT, looked terrible

- We shouldn't be running the ball with Zak Keasey and we don't need Moran Norris. I say list Michael Robinson as the FB and cut both

- Josh Morgan looked great. He was running perfect routes and making touch catches

- Arnaz Battle looked good. I am surprised he held onto the ball on that third down, not many players would have

- Jason Hill looked okay. Showed some speed on that reverse

- The first team defense, which was only in completely on the Raiders first drive, looked good.

- Ray McDonald was getting good pressure

- Kentwan Balmer looked pretty good

- Dashon Goldson was all over the field and made some plays

- Nate Clements is gonna be great again this season

- Shawntae Spencer really looked great. Maybe he can return to 2005 season form and replace an aging Walt

- The second team defense was pretty good as well

- The third and fourth stringers were getting the crap pounded out of them

- Reggie Smith made a couple of good plays

- Jay Moore looked really good

Most importantly some people need to relax and realize that it was the first preseason game under a new offensive coordinator. Everyone is still learning and there were bound to be mistakes. But at least all 4 turnovers were by players who won't be starting and outside of the 71 and 31 yard runs they had against our 3rd stringers the defense was good
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:14 pm

2008 Offseason San Francisco 49ers Preview

Postional Analysis

QB: Starter - Alex Smith, Back Up - Shaun Hill, 3rd String - J.T. O'Sullivan
Definitely not the 49ers strongest position but I still believe that Alex Smith do be a pretty good quarterback. I am of course basing that off of his 2006 campaign instead of his rookie season and the games he played injured in last year but that might be my problem. It is obviously much more intelligent to judge a player off of 7 games his rookie season when no one could have succeeded under the circumstances plus 3 games in his third season when he was playing with an injured shoulder under a moron of an offensive coordinator with no good receivers than 16 games when he played healthy with a decent amount of health around him. But I digress. Based on what I saw in the 2006 I expect Smith to have a pretty good year compared to what he has done so far and an average year compared to the rest of the league. I am expecting him to start all 16 games and finish with numbers of,
300/510 (58.8%)
3400 passing yards
6.7 yards per attempt
24 touchdowns
16 interceptions
81.5 Passer Rating
200 rushing yards
3 rushing touchdowns
And he will improve on those numbers in 2009

RB: Starter - Frank Gore, Back Up - DeShaun Foster, 3rd string - Michael Robinson
I am really, really excited about this group. Obvious Gore is going to be the leader and get a good majoirty of the touches and he will be great. With his receiving ability and Martz as the offensive coordinator I expect big things from him. I am predicting the Offensive Player of the year award and numbers somewhere along the line of,
275 carries
1450 rushing yards
5.2 yards per rush
10 rushing touchdowns
50 receptions
450 receiving yards
4 receiving touchdowns
Then there is Foster who I don't see getting many touches unless, God forbid, Gore gets injured but I still think he could contribute a few carries a game to take the load off of Gore and put up some numbers. I doubt Robinson will get any play time unless he finds a way to beat out Foster but I wouldn't be surprised if Martz used him in some trick plays

WR: Starting Line Up - Arnaz Battle (Flanker), Bryant Johnson (Split End), Isaac Bruce (Slot). Reserves: Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, Josh Morgan
This is by far the best group of receivers that Smith has had to work with since he was drafted. Bruce may be old but he still outperformed every 49er receiver last year and Johnson has the ability to stretch the field. Battle is going to break out under Martz and Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, and Josh Morgan all have great potential. Watch out for Hill especially. I am not going to predict the numbers for every receiver but for Battle, Johnson, and Bruce they will be somewhere around,
Battle: 65 receptions, 825 yards, 5 touchdowns
Johnson: 50 receptions, 750 yards, 4 touchdowns
Bruce: 55 receptions, 600 yards, 3 touchdowns

TE: Starter - Vernon Davis, Back Up - Delanie Walker
The 49ers have easily the two most physically gifted tight ends in the league. Everyone knows about Vernon Davis but not many people know Walker. Walker is a converted college receiver that is actually more polished at pass catching than Davis because of his experience as a wide receiver. Both he and Davis will create mismatches when linebackers cover them which will force opposing teams to double team them. It should be a decent season for both. Out of Davis I am expecting,
55 receptions, 700 yards, 6 touchdowns

Offensive Line: Starting Line Up - Joe Staley(LT), Adam Snyder(LG), Eric Heitmann(C), Chilo Rachal(RG), Jonas Jennings(RT). Reserves: David Baas, Barry Sims, Tony Wragge, Cody Wallace, Demane Duckett
By no measure is the group great but if Jennings stays healthy they are average to a little above average. Staley was a beast last year after Michael Strahan owned him about half way through the season, Snyder is a serviceable and solid starter, Heitmann is good if he returns to his 2006 form, Rachal should be good and only get better as the season progresses, and when Jennings is healthy is is a very good tackle. If the line isn't decimated by injuries like it was last season it should be middle of the pack but even if, or more likely when, Jennings gets injured we have pretty good depth behind him.

FB: Zak Keasey
It may come as a surprise to some that this perennial practice squad player makes the team instead of the realiable Moran Norris but in camp he has been impressive. He has shown that not only is he a better pass blocker than Norris but that he is a much better pass catcher. He still definitely won't be a big part of the offense, though

Defensive Line: Starting Line Up, Isaac Sopoaga(DE), Aubrayo Franklin(NT), Justin Smith(DE). Reserves: Kentwan Balmer, Ronald Fields, Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen
Now this is the weakest link on the 49ers. Sopoaga finally proved last year that he can be a force on the line and should be even better this season, Franklin is only as good as a decent back-up, and Smith hasn't ever played in a 3-4 defense but so far he looks great in camp. Then there are McDonald, Balmer, and Cohen who are almost completely unproven but have good upside and Fields who is average and can play all three positions on the line. If Smith plays like he has been in camp then we don't have anything to worry about on the defensive line but if he doesn't it could be in trouble.

Linebackers: Starting Line Up - Manny Lawson(OLB), Patrick Willis(ILB), Jeff Ulbrich(ILB), Parys Haralson(OLB)
. Reserves: Brandon Moore, Tully Banta-Cain, Dontarrious Thomas, Jay Moore
With ManLaw and P.Willy leading the way and Parys Haralson getting better and better this is easily one of the best young linebacking corps in the league. Willis is already an All-Pro and in the two games before he was injured last year Lawson was playing at a Pro Bowl level. Haralson showed a lot of potential towards the end of last season and has wrestled the starting job away from TBC in camp. Ulbrich is not a great player but he is smart and adequate. Brandon Moore, TBC, and Thomas all provide good depth with starting experience and Moore is okay as a back-up

Secondary: Starting Line Up - Nate Clements(CB), Michael Lewis(SS), Dashon Goldson(FS), Walt Harris(CB). Reserves: Shawntae Spencer, Reggie Smith, Tarell Brown, Donald Strickland, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman
With a top ten corner, a very good strong safety, a talented free safety who is turning heads at camp, and a pretty good corner this is a very good secondary. If I had to pick the second strongest aspect of this team in would be this. Not only because the aforementioned starters are good but because of the great depth behind them. Roman, Spencer, and Strickland all have significant starting experience and Brown and Smith are both great talents. If the front seven can provide some sort of pass rush this season, unlike last year, the pass defense has the chance to be top ten in the league.

Special Teams: Joe Nedney(K), Andy Lee(P), Allen Rossum(KR/PR)

Joe Nedney is the most accurate kicker in the history of the league from under 40 yards and Andy Lee is a top five punter right now. Rossum isn't great but he should be average much like Maurice Hicks was for us last year. Both the kick and punt coverage teams are among the best in the league.

Roster Wrap-Up (Starters Bolded)

Offense (25)

QB(3): Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, J.T. O'Sullivan
RB(3): Frank Gore, DeShaun Foster, Michael Robinson
WR(6): Arnaz Battle, Bryant Johnson, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, Josh Morgan
TE(2): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker
FB(1): Zak Keasey
OL(10): Joe Staley, Jonas Jennings, Barry Sims, Demane Duckett, Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder, Tony Wragge, Cody Wallace, David Baas, Eric Heitmann

Defense (25)

DL(7): Isaac Sopoaga, Kentwan Balmer, Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, Ronald Fields, Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen
LB(8): Patrick Willis, Manny Lawson, Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore, Parys Haralson, Tully Banta-Cain, Jay Moore, Dontarrious Thomas
DB(10): Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Shawntae Spencer, Michael Lewis, Keith Lewis, Tarell Brown, Reggie Smith, Dashon Goldson, Mark Roman, Marcus Hudson

Special Teams (3)
K(1): Joe Nedney
P(1): Andy Lee
PR/KR(1): Allen Rossum

Game-by-game predictions

Arizona - Win. Last year we had the Cardinals' number with no offense at all. With the greatly improved offense this season we should win this one at home
@Seattle - Loss. Seattle's pass rush is going to overwhelm Smith. The only chance we have to win this is if Gore really gets going
Detroit - Win. The Lions have a horrible offensive line and no defense whatsoever, this should be an easy win
@New Orleans - Win. There is no argument that the Saints have a much better offense than us but I see Gore having a great game and keeping it off of the field
New England - Loss. We are almost certainly going to lose but it won't be by as much as some people think
Phildelphia - Loss. We their great secondary and ferocious pass rush they should win this handily
@N.Y. Giants - Loss. With Alex Smith this year the game will be closer than it was last season
Seattle - Win. Just like the Saints game I think Gore has a great game and keeps the Seattle offense off of the field long enough for us to win a close game
@Arizona - Loss. I could see this one going either way. If the Cardinals have Warner in by this point we will lose but if Leinart is still starting we have a chance
St. Louis - Win. Alex Smith is 3-1 in his career against the Rams and 2-0 at home.
@Dallas - Loss. We will probably lose pretty badly but with rivalry games you nevr know
@Buffalo - Win. Buffalo and the 49ers are pretty evenly matched player wise so this is a toss up and seeing as I'm a 49er fan I will go with them
New York Jets - Win. I had this marked down as an easy win before they got Favre but I still think we will win just not easily
@Miami - Win. Miami has nothing on us. At all
@St. Louis - Win. Last year we were a Darrell Jackson dropped pass away from sweeping the Rams with as many injuries as them.
Washington - Loss. This will be a pretty good last game, imo, and I also think the winner will get the final wildcard spot. Jason Taylor will prove too much for our o-line, though

So a final record of 9-7 and just short of a playoff berth. Nolan and Smith both keep their jobs and hopefully Martz will stay. The players I think will make the Pro Bowl are Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Andy Lee, and Nate Clements. Manny Lawson and Joe Staley will have a great season as well but won't go because the Pro Bowl is of course a popularity contest.
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:12 pm

2008 Post Draft Predicted Roster/Depth Chart

Now this is subject to change because we might make some more moves.

Offense (24):

QB1: Alex Smith - I just don't see him being beat out in training camp by Hill
QB2: Shaun Hill - He was great last year but I think a lot of that was luck
QB3: J.T. O'Sullivan - Martz likes him and it is always good to have a capable 3rd string QB

RB1: Frank Gore - Don't really need an explanation here
RB2: DeShaun Foster - Foster could be an average starter and will be a great back-up
RB3: Thomas Clayton - He showed potential last preseason while Michael Robinson seems to have topped out

FB: Moran Norris - I heard we are trying to convert MRob to FB but I think that is a longshot

TE1: Vernon Davis - Obviously
TE2: Delanie Walker - I don't see us keeping 3 tight ends and Walker is a better receiver than Bajema so Martz will like that

WR1: Bryant Johnson - He has the skills to be a #1 but I am not sure on this
WR2: Arnaz Battle - Battle is a great number 2 option and no one is taking his job
WR3: Isaac Bruce - Bruce will be the perfect slot receiver for Martz
WR4: Jason Hill - He could live up to his potential and jump up a few spots
WR5: Josh Morgan (R) - Has potential and probably won't get cut
WR6: Robert Jordan (R)- I think Jordan fits the mold of a "Martz" WR more than Colvin

LT1: Joe Staley - We drafted him to play here and he seems ready but if he isn't we always have Adam Snyder
LT2: Jonas Jennings - I would like to see us get rid of him because he rarely plays but as a back-up I guess he is okay, though he makes too much money for it

Chilo Rachal (R) - He definitely has the ability to start right away
LG2: Tony Wragge - A very dependable back-up

Eric Heitmann - Hopefully he returns to his 2006 form
C2: Cody Wallace (R) - Some people have him starting but he probably won't for a couple years

RG1: David Baas - He was pretty good last year towards to end of the season and should improve on that
RG2: Brian De La Puente (R) - It is a competition between him, Jeb Terry, and Qasim Mitchell for this spot and I think De La Puente gets it because of his upside

Adam Snyder - There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to start somewhere along the line
RT2: Jonas Jennings - See above.

Defense (26):

RDE1: Kentwan Balmer (R) - He is much better suited for 3-4 end and nose tackle
RDE2: Ray McDonald - Looked good at the end of last season and will make a decent back-up

NT1: Isaac Sopoage - Really stepped up in 2007 and hopefully he will build on that
NT2: Aubrayo Franklin - Not great but adds good depth to the defensive line
NT3: Ronald Fields - Great run stopper and adds depth to the DL

LDE1: Justin Smith - 275 pounds is enough to play DE but I would like to see him bulk up a little
LDE2: Melvin Oliver - Hopefully he doesn't get injured again because he is a solid player
LDE3: Joe Cohen - I don't think the 49ers will cut him because he has potential and was injured last year

WOLB1: Parys Haralson - He played better than TBC last year and is only improving
WOLB2: Tully Banta-Cain - Demoted! Hopefully

LILB1: Patrick Willis - Duh
LILB2: Brandon Moore - Great back-up that has the ability to start if, God forebid, Willis gets hurt
LILB3: Jeff Ulbrich- You can never have too many capable linebackers in the 3-4

RILB1: Uzra Butler (R) - My wildcard here. He has the physical tools (6'2'', 250 pounds, 4.51 40) to play OLB but I see him more as an inside backer
RILB2: Jay Grant (R)- That's right, two rookies that are a 7th round pick and UDFA at our other linebacker spot. Call me crazy

SOLB1: Manny Lawson - Another obvious choice
SOLB2: Jay Moore - I see him more as a "Will" than a "Sam" but the coaches don't

RCB1: Nate Clements - I think he might lose his starting job /sarcasm
RCB2: Shawntae Spencer- He is good enough to be a back-up even though that isn't saying much

LCB1: Reggie Smith (R)- I am going off of what I heard that Mike Nolan said. I heard he said he thinks Smith is going to be ready to start at corner
LCB2: Tarell Brown - Hopefully he will live up to his potential and make and impact as a nickelback
LCB3: Marcus Hudson - Having 5 corners on the roster is always good and I give Hudson the edge over Strickland

FS1: Walt Harris - Again, I am going off of what I heard Nolan said. If Smith is ready to start at CB then Harris will switch to free safety
FS2: Dashon Goldson - Hopefully he will be able to take over for Harris when he gets old, I mean older than he is

SS1: Michael Lewis - No competition here, he was beastly last year
SS2: Keith Lewis - He is usually a free safety but he won't play here anyway, we are going to keep him for special teams

Special Teams (4):

K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
KR/PR: Allen Russom
LS: Brian Jennings
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:10 pm

2008 San Francisco 49ers Draft Review

Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina - I like this pick a lot more than most. We definitely needed help on the defensive line and Balmer was the best defensive lineman available, imo, at 29. He has all the physical tools to succeed and the only knock on him seems to be that he was only productive one season but that could be because he finally got good coaching. But I will admit I don't like drafting anyone labeled a "boom or bust" pick since Kwame Harris Grade: B-

Chilo Rachal, OG, Southern California - Easily my favorite pick. I have had us taking him in the second round for a while now because he was the 2nd best guard in the draft and good value there. He is a big, mauling guard that has very good footwork, two years starting experience at a major program playing in a pro style offense and against top competition, and he is still improving. He is also a very high character guy, the only reason he entered this year's draft was because his mom is sick and insurance won't pay for her medical Bills. Grade: A

Reggie Smith, S/CB, Oklahoma - I will admit that I would have much rather have taken Cliff Avril there but I am happy with Smith. He has starting experience at cornerback and safety, two positions we could use help out, and I have heard that Nolan expects for him to start at CB opposite Nate Clements and push Walt Harris to free safety. I honestly love that move because with his football knowledge and recognition skills Harris will make a great free safety. Grade: B

Cody Wallace, C, Texas A&M - A bit of a reach in the 4th depending on who you ask. A lot of draft sites had him going in the 4th, including Mel Kiper who had him as his top rated center, but a lot also had him not going until the 6th or 7th. We still needed offensive line depth and Wallace started his college career at guard so he is versatile. Who knows, he might even surprise us all and take Eric Heitmann's starting spot Grade: C

No video available

Josh Morgan, WR, Virginia Tech - Before I evaluate him I would first like to say that I did not want us to draft a receiver. But since we did I am happy with Morgan. I have heard from more than one Hokie fan that Morgan was their best receiver, better than Eddie Royal who was taken much earlier. Morgan has a good combination of size and speed for a 6th round pick (6'1'', 220, 4.46 40) and while production is lacking that could be because of the crap quarterbacks he had at Virginia Tech. Was projected as a mid round pick. Grade: B

Larry Grant, ILB, Ohio State - Like almost all of us I had never even heard of him when we picked him but after some research I am kind of liking the pick. He might be a little undersized for a 3-4 linebacker but he has decent speed (4.71 40) and is a hard worker. He also had a pretty good season at Ohio State last year finishing with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks. At worst he should be a great special teams player and solid back-up inside linebacker. Grade: B+

Undrafted Free Agent signings

Ezra Butler, OLB, Nevada- Another guy that will make this team whether as a starter or situational pass rusher. Has good production (Career: 50 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks) from a decent program and is very experienced, three year starter. He is an excellent special teams player and is tough and physical. Just like Guyton, I am surprised he wasn't drafted. Grade: A+

Cameron Colvin, WR, Oregon - He has been an underachiever since he got to Oregon. He was a highly coveted recruit coming out of high school but never lived up to his potential. Has great speed, as you can see in the video below, and he could surprise. Grade: B

Robert Jordan, WR, California - A bit undersized but had decent production behind Desaen Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins at Cal. His speed is very good and he tries hard. He runs great routes, better than most receivers coming out of college, and could be productive in Martz's offense. He could make the team if he beats out either Colvin or Morgan in training camp. Grade: B-

Joe John Finley, TE, Oklahoma - He is a decent blocker, receiver, and all-around player. Tough, hard-working, and reasonable production. I don't see him making the team unless he puts on a few pounds and becomes a better blocker and takes Billy Bajema's spot. Grade: C

No video available

Louis Holmes, DE, Arizona - I don't like this pick-up that much. He has character issues and never really performed well. He has some upside but I don't see him making the team. Grade: C

No video available

DJ Parker, S, Virginia Tech - Training camp fodder. He does not have enough speed and is not big enough to do well in the NFL. Grade: D

Brian De La Puente, OL, California - The more I read about him the better chance I think the he has of making the team as a back-up. Grade: B

Final Grade: B-

We addressed all of our needs whether it was in the draft or through the UDFAs. The main reasons that I am not giving us an "A" are that we really should have drafted Avril in the third and we reached for Wallace. Other than that I like all of our picks and love our free agent signings
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or