Things we think we know about the 49ers

We've been watching the 49ers all winter and spring, and now we've seen them step through their two-day training camp trial run before the real work begins in full practice gear Monday morning. As camp action heats up and the calendar prepares to turn to the consequential month of August, here are several things we think we know about the 49ers and the direction in which the team is headed.

--- We think Trent Dilfer and Norv Turner – in no particular order – are the best things to happen to Alex Smith since the 49ers made him a $50 million man.

--- We think the 49ers are going to keep force-feeding Smith until he gets it right.

--- We think No. 1 draft pick Vernon Davis will help the San Francisco offense this year much more and much sooner than No. 1 pick Smith did last season.

--- We think team owner John York has shed the penny-pincher label once and for all after he paid to get top draft pick Davis under contract before the start of Friday's first training camp practice.

--- We think Mike Nolan's methodical piece-by-piece building process is coming along favorably and will begin producing results in September.

--- We think the 49ers might actually stay healthy this season, by NFL standards.

--- We think there's virtually no chance Jerry Porter or Ashley Lelie wind up in a 49ers uniform this summer, even though the team could use either of the disgruntled receivers.

--- We think, just the same, that the 49ers should be making some provisional plans at the receiver position because of the iffy status of Arnaz Battle and his aching knee.

--- We think third-year receiver Derrick Hamilton doesn't have a future with the 49ers. If he ever did.

--- We think Jeff Ulbrich makes a serious challenge this season to Derek Smith's five-year run as the 49ers' leading tackler.

--- We think nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga finally is ready to become a strongman force in the defensive middle in this third NFL season.

--- We think Sopoaga looks like a Samoan steamroller when he runs over offensive linemen in camp drills.

--- We think Shaun Hill has zero chance of beating out Jesse Palmer for the No. 3 role at quarterback.

--- We think there is going to be one pretty decent 49ers running back who gets the axe before this summer is over.

--- We think, when the pads finally go on Monday, that the 49ers will have their best summer competition for jobs since Terry Donahue stripped down the roster three years ago.

--- We think Mark Roman wasn't brought in just to sit behind Mike Adams or Tony Parrish.

--- We think Adams might be looking a lot better as a cornerback to the Niners right about now.

--- We think Manny Lawson will have more sacks in 2006 than Julian Peterson, Andre Carter or any other 49ers linebacker had in 2005.

--- We think the 49ers need more than Brandon Moore at the outside linebacker position opposite Lawson.

--- We think it is going to be tough on opponents this season when tight ends Davis and Eric Johnson both are in the game together.

--- We think Johnson will be a nice a nice safety valve for Smith, and that the 49ers are fortunate they decided not to dump him after drafting Davis.

--- We think Jonas Jennings' shoulder better hold up this time around.

--- We think B.J. Tucker is one cornerback nobody talks about much who has a legitimate shot to emerge with a situational role in a crowded secondary.

--- We think Rasheed Marshall's only chance to make this team is as a kick returner, and it really doesn't look like it's going to happen.

--- We think rookie Brandon Williams should be getting more repetitions at wide receiver, considering what he has done so far with the ones he does get.

--- We think the 49ers aren't necessarily counting on center Jeremy Newberry, but definitely are hoping that they can.

--- We think that consistency is the only thing Antonio Bryant needs to put it all together and become the total package at receiver.

--- We think that Keith Lewis already is a better NFL player than anybody ever thought he'd be when he was drafted in the sixth round in 2004.

--- We think rookie Delanie Walker is an offensive threat that bears watching the rest of this summer.

--- We think there needn't be any worries whether Larry Allen still has plenty of games of Pro Bowl quality left in him.

--- We think Otis Amey, who returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball in a NFL game during last year's season opener, will never get that kind of opportunity again with the 49ers.

--- We think the one-back, two-receiver, two-tight end set is what the San Francisco offense is going to look like most of the upcoming season.

--- We think all that upgrading of the offensive line over the past 20 months finally is going to crank out a unit that can keep Smith upright and healthy.

--- We think that if Kevan Barlow actually does hold onto the starting job at tailback this summer, he'll just be keeping it warm for Frank Gore.

--- We think Gore will be the first San Francisco player drafted in most fantasy football leagues come September. Or he should be.

--- We think the 49ers are having a difficult time deciding whether they want Adam Snyder starting at right tackle or right guard.

--- We definitely think Snyder should be starting somewhere by the time Sept. 10 rolls around.

--- We think the 49ers are a better team than last year. Marginally.


Niners Digest Top Stories