Even though the 49ers season is over, let us take a look back at some of the bright spots of the season that was. Alex Smith finally found a system in which to be successful with in the NFL, Vernon Davis became Smith’s safety net, and the defense became one of the best in the league. Though the season ended less than favorably for the 49ers, what they were able to accomplish this season when everyone counted them out, is incredible.
Going into the season the biggest question facing the team was can we win with Alex Smith at QB? Alex then went on to have the best season of his career by far and finally proved his worth to the team. Remember when Smith was the first overall pick in 2005 and he became a huge disappointment?
Well he began to resurrect that career this year, and it helps that going into next season he won’t be having to meet with a new offensive coordinator, learn a new offense, learn new schemes, calls etc. Alex finally has a chance to make people really believe in him, especially since he is rumored to be resigning with the team. Smith’s stats this season were the best of his career throwing for 3,144 yards, 17 touchdowns and a career low 5 interceptions. He also threw the game winning touchdown against the Saints in the playoffs. So for once in his career Alex Smith is on his way to stability and success in the NFL.
Vernon Davis came into this season facing the same uncertainty that faced Alex Smith. He had been labeled as a trouble maker, a player that couldn’t win, and was just a distraction. Well he proved all that propaganda wrong with a breakout season where he became the emotional spirit of the offense. Vernon also became one of the most potent threats the offense had as he is a very hard target to cover.
Many people will remember Vernon this season as the man that caught the pass that got the team to the NFC Championship, but let’s not forget that he caught 4 touchdown passes in the postseason. Vernon’s season stat totals were 67 catches for 792 yards and 6 touchdowns. Looking forward to next season Vernon Davis looks to continue this season’s success, and supplant his name as one the top tight ends in the league.
The defense really made this team what it was this season. The defense was fierce, played with lots of energy and heart, and discipline. Rookie Aldon Smith led the team with 14 sacks, which was just one sack away from the NFL rookie record. The defense didn’t give up a rushing touchdown until the second game against the Seattle Seahawks in week 16, which is an NFL record.
While the secondary had its injury problems, it held together enough to be respectable, and while it was suspect at times it held its own with the best of teams. The defense had 42 sacks on the season; add that to being +30 in takeaways and you get one of the best defensive groups in the league. Going forward this squad has so much room to get better and better and that should be a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Going into the 2012 season look for the 49ers to add another receiver, and another cornerback to add depth to the defense, and even though the team went 13-3 there is still room to get better with those additions. Kendall Hunter will continue to help take a lot of the load off of Frank Gore to keep him healthy in the long run. Things are really looking good for the San Francisco 49ers, with a renewed sense of spirit and heart and determination, this team is in for a great future, and that future is most definitely under way.