The 49ers needed impact players on offense—they knew that going into the January 2012 NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants.
And the 49ers absolutely had it pounded it into their heads during and after the Giants’ defense took the 49ers out of everything they wanted to do offensively, on the way to a 20-17 OT loss.
Fast receivers, break-away tailbacks, slot receivers… the 49ers needed any or all of those kinds of players to add to Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and a great young offensive line and get to that next step.
So GM Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh went into that off-season looking for offensive game-breakers. It was an obvious need and they were ready to look at all options… draft, trade, free agency.
They had such a talented roster in every other position group. If the 49ers could just add a play-maker or two, they’d set themselves up beautifully for the coming seasons (2012, 2013, 2014 at the very least).
And what happened? They’re still a very good team and still a Super Bowl contender (they GOT to the Super Bowl last season), but…
It’s 2013, and the 49ers are still desperately in need of offensive play-makers, much of which can be traced back to the decisions in the 2012 off-season, and especially that fateful draft class.
– Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
New Orleans Turnaround Can’t Be That Simple, Can It?
Is it as simple as it looks with the New Orleans Saints?
Under Sean Payton’s guidance, the Saints became one of the elite teams in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl and always in contention. With Sean Payton out for a year due to Bountygate, the Saints became mediocre, failing to reach the playoffs and finishing 7-9.
Insert Payton back into the organization this year and – boom! – the Saints are back among the elite.
“It’s never that simple” quarterback Drew Brees said.
Of course not. The Saints’ defense, under new coordinator Rob Ryan, is better than last year, the young players have matured, the new players have flourished, the team has been healthier.
But, really, it comes back to Payton. You can isolate the variable for the Saints’ success.
“He’s our coach, he’s a huge part of our success, and we missed not having him last year,” Brees said. “I’m just glad that he’s back and we’re winning and all the pieces to the puzzle are here.”
It’s a scenario the 49ers are familiar with. They were a mediocre team until Jim Harbaugh came along and turned the same group into one of the best in the NFL. If Harbaugh were to vanish for a year, probably every man in the 49ers’ locker room would be concerned that they would slip back into mediocrity.
That’s what leadership is. That’s what being one of the best coaches in the NFL means. You make the machine run.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
Sure, the first Saturday of the final month of college football’s regular season wasn’t as mundane as anticipated.
No. 4 Stanford, which seemed to take control of the Pac-12 race with its victory over Oregon last week, lost to USC 20-17 on Saturday night.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State didn’t look invincible, and No. 5 Baylor had to rally from a double-digit deficit.
And No. 7 Auburn had to survive on the mother of all miracles.
But after an action-packed Saturday, we’re still right where we started, with two-time defending national champion Alabama and No. 2 Florida State on a collision course to play in the final Vizio BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6.
The Crimson Tide slogged through perhaps their most unimpressive outing of the season, winning 20-7 at Mississippi State on Saturday night. Alabama allowed only 197 yards of offense but committed four turnovers, including two interceptions by quarterback AJ McCarron.
Florida State blocked out the controversy surrounding star quarterback Jameis Winston and routed Syracuse 59-3 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Winston, who is under investigation for his role in an alleged sexual assault nearly a year ago, sure didn’t seem distracted. He completed 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards with two touchdowns.
If either Alabama or FSU slips in the final three weeks of the regular season, Ohio State and Baylor are now poised as a potential replacement. The Buckeyes gained 591 yards of offense, while allowing 420 yards, in a 60-35 rout of lowly Illinois. At least the Buckeyes never trailed on Saturday. The Bears had to rally from a 20-7 deficit to Texas Tech in the first quarter before piling up 675 yards of offense in a 63-34 rout at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
–Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com