49ers training camp: 10 Key New Faces
NORV TURNER: After San Francisco finished dead last in the 2005 NFL rankings with a historically bad offense, Turner and his proven track record as an offensive coordinator are just what the doctor ordered for the 49ers' ailing attack. Turner has resurrected offenses at each of his previous five NFL stops, and he'll be given full authority on that side of the ball to make sure the trend continues in San Francisco. VERNON DAVIS: And Davis is Turner's shiny new boy toy. The athletic and physically gifted tight end could be San Francisco's fastest player and already is establishing himself as a top target in the team's revamped passing game. Davis was impressive during spring drills, where San Francisco defenders had trouble covering him, so everybody is anxious to see what happens once the pads go on for a player who has elite potential as a rookie. LARRY ALLEN: He may be on the down side of his Hall of Fame career, but that doesn't figure to do much good for the defenders who must line up in front of him. Allen brings the veteran experience and nasty attitude previously lacking in San Francisco's offensive line, and his presence alone could be a key factor in the continued development of a young and promising unit. ANTONIO BRYANT: After two dismal seasons without a player who even came close, the 49ers finally have a talent who can be a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Bryant put up career-high receiving numbers last season for a Cleveland passing attack that almost was as bad as San Francisco's. With a fresh start and an offensive system that suits his skills, this could by Bryant's breakout season. LAL HENEGHAN: He's young for a high management position, but Heneghan has front-office experience in the NFL that goes beyond his 42 years, and he looks like a good fit with the 49ers in the newly-created position of executive vice president of football operations. He's that front-office buffer with insiders knowledge that Mike Nolan didn't have between him and the rest of the NFL last year. The team will benefit from his presence as it wheels and deals and tinkers with the roster once training camp begins. TRENT DILFER: A Super Bowl winner and starter with four previous NFL teams, the 13-year pro is the perfect mentor and veteran backup for Alex Smith who also can be called upon for quality performance in a pinch. Even if he doesn't play a snap, the presence of Dilfer significantly upgrades both the stature and quality of San Francisco's quarterback unit. MANNY LAWSON: It's a huge order, but the team's expecting him to be an instant starter and playmaker on the 3-4 edge. Lawson certainly has the raw talent to get it done. A versatile player with excellent speed and tremendous athleticism, the 49ers will move Lawson around in their defensive scheme and put him in situations that make optimum use of his skills. JOHNNIE LYNN: A new secondary coach with proven NFL credentials at the position is a nice addition for a passing defense that ranked last in the league and allowed a NFL-worst 4,427 yards through the air – the most surrendered in the 60-year history of the franchise. It doesn't hurt that Lynn also coached San Francisco's secondary during the team's dynastic heyday in 1996 and knows firsthand the 49ers' winning tradition and how the franchise likes to get things done. WALT HARRIS: He provides proven veteran insurance at a vulnerable area of need and may still have what it takes to start. Despite owning 10 years of NFL wear and tear, Harris was impressive during the spring and displayed fresh legs while taking over the starting position at left cornerback, where he could prove to be an upgrade over what the 49ers have had there in recent seasons if he can continue to perform at a level similar to previously in his career. BRANDON WILLIAMS: If he's as good as advertised, he immediately fills a huge void in the return game and could help at wide receiver, too. The 49ers would be happy to get the former and would consider the latter a bonus in Williams' rookie season.
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