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San Francisco 49ers

Stadium: Levi's Stadium | Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense11th125.1 (10th)232.3 (20th)
Defense2nd84.9 (4th)221.1 (8th)

49ers report: Inside slant

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel
 

--John York has been accused of being tight-fisted during his reign as owner of the 49ers. But coach Mike Nolan has insisted that York has provided him with every resource to succeed through his first year on the job.

And York promised that he will continue to support Nolan and vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan piece together a roster. When asked if he was giving Nolan and McCloughan free reign to spend money to lure free agents, York answered, "Free reign under the guidelines of the salary cap. It's their decisions."

The CBA extension added $7.5 million to this year's salary cap. The 49ers, at more than $20 million under the cap, are in good shape entering the free-agent signing period.

"We had cap room before and this obviously gives us more cap room," York said. "How that gets approached, I'll leave to (coach) Mike Nolan and (vice president of player personnel) Scot McCloughan. They are going to do everything they can to improve the team."

--The 49ers' current top-three offseason needs:

1. Pass rusher: The 49ers yielded 276.7 yards a game through the air and recorded just 28 sacks. Defensive end Bryant Young led the team with eight sacks, though none of those came in the final nine weeks of the season. The 49ers need a player (or two) who can generate consistent pressure on the quarterback and take some of the heat off an overmatched secondary.

2. Defensive back: The 49ers are in need of upgrades at cornerback and free safety. Aside from cornerback Shawntae Spencer, the 49ers do not have a proven cornerback on the roster after injury-prone Ahmed Plummer was released. Because this appears to be a strong draft for cornerbacks, the 49ers might be able to pick up a starter in the second or third round. They would also like to bring in a safety to compete with Mike Adams for a starting job.

3. Receiver: Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd are likely to return as the team's starters, but the 49ers need to add some weapons for quarterback Alex Smith. If they can't find a wideout who can be an immediate contributor, they are likely to divert their attention to tight end, where the club received no production in the pass game a year ago. DRAFT SCOUT SKINNY

With the No. 6 pick in the draft, the 49ers are at the mercy of the teams picking ahead of them. They believe Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Vince Young will be the first three players chosen. They are hopeful Jay Cutler will also hear his name called before the 49ers pick.

If North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams is still there at No. 6, the 49ers are expected to snap him up. If he's gone, but Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk is there, they will likely be happy to take him.

The 49ers do not need another high-priced left tackle, so they probably would not take D'Brickashaw Ferguson with the No. 6 pick. Last year the 49ers paid free-agent Jonas Jennings a hefty sum ($36 million over seven years) to take care of that spot.

If Williams and Hawk are gone, the 49ers might be able to swing a trade to some team willing to jump up to draft Ferguson. Then, the 49ers might be able to use a later first-round pick on a cornerback such as Tye Hill or Jimmy Williams, or possibly a tight end (Vernon Davis).

Copyright (C) 2006 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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