49ers: It’s Panic Time

The majority of football experts are blowing off the rough start by the 49ers to the preseason. No reason to panic, they say. The 49ers have gone to the NFC Championship Game the past three years, they say. They will figure it out by the start of the season, they say. I’m not so sure about that. The 49ers have lost by a combined score of 57-3 over their first two preseason games. I see a complete lack of fire from any of the units, whether it be first, second, or third string. These guys have been on a brutal grind since May in preparation for the season. They risk their bodies and health for the game they love, and the privilege to play the game of football at the highest level, and they can’t even get hyped for a preseason game? Much was made of the 49ers new and improved receiving corps this offseason. Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington, Brandon Lloyd. So far, it looks like it will be back to the status quo, the Anquan and Vernon show. Crabtree, the team’s number one receiver, has dealt with a variety of nagging injuries this offseason and has a less than stellar injury history. The defense, once so feared and highly touted, has fallen off. NaVorro Bowman, perhaps the league’s best linebacker, won’t be back until midseason and most likely will not be back to full strength until 2015. Veteran enforcer  Strong Safety Donte Whitner went home to Cleveland before it was cool (@Lebron). Aldon Smith will likely face a minimum of a 4 game suspension. Starting corner Tarell Brown and veteran Carlos Rodgers departed in free agency, thrusting the unproven Chris Culliver into a starting role. Kapernick has looked fairly decent in his small sample size. That’s huge, considering how awful his backups have been. Blaine Gabbert is one of the worst statistical passers in the past 20 years of NFL history. He simply is not accurate-a key trait for a QB at any level. Backups Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson haven’t been much better. All 3 backups are turning the ball over way too much. In addition, the division isn’t getting any easier. The defending Super Bowl Champs up north aren’t going anywhere. Arizona’s offense looks crisp and Michael Floyd is primed to become a Pro Bowl caliber player. Arizona also features a secondary to rival the Seahawks: Antonio Cromartie, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, and first round pick Deone Bucannon from Washington State University. That’s downright scary. The Rams, last year’s doormats, have 2 of the top 15 picks from last year’s draft  and have a ferocious defensive line with Robert Quinn and Chris Long to go along with a much improved offense. They feature a much improved QB in young Sam Bradford who has looked sharp, and a bruiser and break neck combo of Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin to wear down defenses. The 49ers are going to have to step in up in 2014. An offense that looked inert so often last season will have to make up for a weakened defense, reversing a trend that has been in place since Harbaugh has taken over in the city by the bay. The season rests on the shoulder pads of No.7. Nobody knows yet if he can bear the burden. He certainly couldn’t last year. If that continues into 2014, it will truly be Panic Time for the San Francisco 49ers.

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