Breaking down the 49ers, one year later

There is a lot of optimism in Santa Clara these days. Then again, that’s pretty much the definition of the NFL offseason. But have the 49ers really improved? To form answers, let’s look at how the roster has changed in the past year – since June 2, 2009. Here’s who has arrived and who has departed, and what it might mean for the coming season.

I invite you to weigh in.

QB
In:
David Carr, Jarrett Brown
Out: Shaun Hill, Damon Huard
Analysis: Folks may have been more excited about this position a year ago, but Hill didn’t prove to be the quarterback everyone hoped for. If Alex Smith turns the corner and Nate Davis accelerates his development, the other names won’t really matter much.

RB
In:
Anthony Dixon, Brit Miller, Jehuu Caulcrick
Out: Zak Keasey, Kory Sheets, Thomas Clayton
Analysis: The 49ers definitely lost proven talent when FB Keasey succumbed to injuries, though Dixon could be a sixth-round sleeper.

WR
In:
Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Bakari Grant, Jared Perry, Scott Long
Out: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Michael Spurlock, Maurice Price, Dobson Collins, Mark Bradford
Analysis: Wow, look at the speed the 49ers have gained since a year ago with Ginn and Williams competing for playing time. I didn’t list Michael Crabtree as a newcomer though he was preparing for a holdout in 2009.

TE
In:
Nate Byham, Tony Curtis
Out: Bear Pascoe
Analysis: This is pretty much a wash unless Byham turns out to be more than just another Pascoe.

OL
In:
Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Brian de la Puente, Chris Patrick
Out: Tony Pashos, Marvel Smith, Jacob Bender, Joe Toledo, Kyle Howard, Matthew Huners
Analysis: Old, injured guys replaced by first-round talent (followed by an exchange of backups). There may be growing pains along the way, but this sure looks like a long-term upgrade for the Niners.

DL
In:
Derek Walker
Out: Pannel Egboh
Analysis: I guess the 49ers have been content with their defensive line for the past year. Almost no change here.

LB
In:
Matt Wilhelm, Navorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy, Martail Burnett, Brandon Long, Mike Balogun, Keaton Kristick
Out: Jeff Ulbrich, Jay Moore, Marques Harris, Mark Washington, Justin Roland
Analysis: Another area where the 49ers feel they got healthier (LaBoy’s history notwithstanding), quicker and more versatile in the past 12 months.

CB
In:
Karl Paymah, Keith Smith, Will James, Phillip Adams, LeRoy Vann, Patrick Stoudamire, Tramaine Brock
Out: Dre Bly, Walt Harris, Allen Rossum, Marcus Hudson, Terrail Lambert, Jahi Word-Daniels, Carlos Thomas
Analysis: Five years ago, Bly and Harris would have formed one of the best corner tandems in the league. Those days are gone, though, and the addition of at least five viable cover men seems to have made the unit deeper.

S
In:
Taylor Mays, Chris Maragos
Out: Mark Roman, Lewis Baker
Analysis: Talk to us in three years, when we know what we have in Mays. Roman was a solid, physical contributor.

ST
In:
Williams, Ginn, Vann, K Shane Andrus
Out: Rossum, Battle, K Alex Romero
Analysis: Seems like one of the three return men acquired this offseason will emerge to make this an improvement.