Getting back to football for a moment...
NUMBING NUMBERS The 49ers this season were outscored by 193 points, and their average margin of defeat was 14.2 points. They surrendered 452 points this season, narrowly missing the team record of 453 set in 1999. The 49ers scored 259 points, the second-lowest total in club history in a 16-game season. Their quarterbacks threw 16 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions, just the second time since 1980 they haven't thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions. The 49ers allowed 52 sacks, ranking second in team history behind the 53 sacks given up in 1998. The team gained just 1,449 yards rushing, the fewest ever for the 49ers in a 16-game season. It's also the third-fewest yards rushing in team history, which includes all of their 12- and 14-game seasons. RB Kevan Barlow in the season finale gained 103 yards on 25 carries for one of his second-best game of the season. He averaged just 3.4 yards a carry this season, the third-lowest for the 49ers' leading rusher since 1973. Their 10 rushing touchdowns tied for the second-fewest in club history. They had eight rushing touchdowns in 1963, when they finished with a 2-12 record. Andy Lee attempted 96 punts, the second most in club history and just one behind Mike Connell's total in 1978. S Dwaine Carpenter intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it 31 yards to set up the 49ers' only touchdown in the finale. It was the 49ers' ninth interception of the season -- their lowest total in a 16-game season. The 49ers had eight interceptions in 1977 in 14 games. DE John Engelberger recorded a sack for his team-leading sixth of the season. It's the lowest total ever for the 49ers' club leader in sacks. They set the team record for fewest home victories in a season with one. In 1978 and '79, both of their victories came at Candlestick Park. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL So much is up in the air with the 49ers after owner John York this week fired coach Dennis Erickson and parted ways with general manager Terry Donahue. So it's problematic to look at what the departing people thought of the 49ers' personnel situation. But when asked, while he was still coach, what areas he thought needed improvement, Erickson answered: "A lot of areas. We need to become faster, in my opinion, in some skill areas, whether it is in the secondary or at receiver. Then, we've got to become better in the trenches too. We have got to become more physical, which can help in the offseason. We got some young guys playing and we've got to become a little bit bigger on defense in the trenches. We can do that however we need to do it. "But, when you are 2-14, there is a hell of a lot of areas that you need to improve on, and that is basically it. We had some young guys that I thought got better and better as the year went on. I thought Shawntae Spencer had an outstanding year at corner for us. I thought Justin Smiley played well when he had the opportunity to play. He's going to get bigger and stronger. Rashaun Woods got better. He made a couple of plays yesterday. He's got a long ways to go, but he's going to play well in this league. "But, you just got to look at it in that we have to improve ourselves in a lot of different areas. That's pretty obvious." COACHING CAROUSEL The 49ers have agreed to pay off all of Erickson's assistant coaches for the one year remaining on their contracts, though York said the new coach has the option to keep some of the old staff. There is no solid indication whom York will pursue to replace Erickson, though early speculation includes USC coach Pete Carroll and Seattle coach Mike Holmgren. York, who has few NFL connections, was evasive when asked who would help him in the interview process. When asked if he would consult with commissioner Paul Tagliabue as well as owners and presidents from other clubs, York answered, "I have already started doing that." FREE-AGENT UPDATE Unrestricted -- TE Steve Bush (signed late in the season to add some blocking strength in the run game but shouldn't be a big priority to re-sign); WR Curtis Conway (the 49ers need to get younger and faster at this position), DT Chris Cooper (was added in the middle of the season because of all the injuries on the line), C Brock Gutierrez (the veteran started 15 games after Jeremy Newberry down, but they'd like to upgrade at this spot), S Ronnie Heard (should be able to find someone better to take starting role), RB Terry Jackson (not a bad player on special teams or as a backup but shouldn't be a high priority to re-sign), LB Julian Peterson (coming back off torn Achilles, might give 49ers a chance to sign him to a long term deal; if not, they can use the franchise tag again), K Todd Peterson (was very consistent, but the club might have to carry a kickoff specialist if he comes back), CB Jimmy Williams (at a minimum price, might be able to get a contract to see if he can win a spot in camp), WR Cedrick Wilson (proved he can play as a No. 3 receiver in this league, but it might not be back here). Top restricted -- G Eric Heitmann (one of the more consistent linemen; might get a one-year, first-round tender if he's not signed to a long-term deal), T Kyle Kosier (versatile lineman started at left tackle and right guard and might be the right tackle next season). FEELING A DRAFT The 49ers hold the No. 1 pick in the draft, so they will have plenty to consider before actually using that pick to select somebody on April 23. With as many needs as they have across the board, the 49ers might be tempted to trade down and get more picks. However, they could decide to select a franchise-type quarterback if they figure Aaron Rodgers or Matt Leinart fits the bill. However, it is still undetermined who will be making the 49ers' draft decisions. The 49ers, of course, need a quarterback, but they also need help on the offensive and defensive lines, at receiver and in the secondary. The front office has said that the team will select the best available player, regardless of position, with the top pick in the draft. MEDICAL WATCH LT Kwame Harris will undergo right shoulder surgery at some point in the offseason and will require a three- to four-month rehabilitation. Last offseason, Harris had surgery on his left shoulder and lost 15 pounds because he could not keep up with his weight training. ... LG Eric Heitmann (left ankle) and DE Andrew Williams (right knee) were scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery this week. ... LB Julian Peterson, who sustained a torn left Achilles tendon on Oct. 10 and underwent surgery two days later, is on course in his rehab program. He said he will remain in California to work out at the team's facility. ... QB Tim Rattay will rest for a month after having surgery to relieve the pressure from his right forearm. Rattay played in only nine games this season because of injuries and blamed his injury problems on the fact he could not spend the offseason and training camp getting ready because of injuries to his groin and forearm. ... WR Cedrick Wilson will likely take six to eight weeks to recover from a left fibula fracture. Wilson is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent but does not believe this will have any impact on his market value. ... CB Jimmy Williams sustained a high ankle sprain in the season finale that would keep him out six to eight weeks.
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