Blogcasting the National Football League, Blogcasting the NFL
In Arizona, wide receiver Bryant Johnson was the team’s third option behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. In free agency, he was seeking to become any other team’s second receiver. And he accomplished just that today by signing a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers where he’ll most likely start opposite Isaac Bruce. Add do-it-all RB (and leading receiver) Frank Gore plus receivers Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie and Arnaz Battle to the mix, and the 49ers have a ton of offensive potential. Of course, the key word here is potential. Darrell and Ashley were disappointments in ’07, but Arnaz (who might just “battle” for one of the top two spots) more than held his own with 50 catches for 600 yards and five TDs.
So, the 49ers haven’t exactly assembled a dream team of available free agents, but they sure have upgraded last year’s promising roster. I spoke with TE Vernon Davis just a couple weeks ago and he was excited about the offensive improvements at that point — new OC Mike Martz, Isaac, RB DeShaun Foster and OL Justin Smiley. I think the Niners have met their wide receiver needs (they also have speedy Jason Hill who was hurt for much of last season) and can now focus on other positions in the Draft — unless, of course, they get a tremendous opportunity with the 29th pick in the first round.
I think the most interesting part of this upcoming season for San Francisco will be the quarterback competition between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. Alex was drafted to be the face of this team, but he’s in serious danger of losing his starting spot without being injured in the process. In fact, my money is on Shaun Hill coming into camp ready to lead this team. Last season Shaun completed almost 70% of his passes in three games. He had five TDs with only one INT and a 101.3 quarterback rating. He’ll be entering his seventh NFL season (with NFL Europe experience) and could be primed for a breakout season with the additional weapons around him.