We have seen the State of the Franchise, and it is positively giddy.
“Tonight is not a pep rally,” coach Mike Singletary told more than 1,000 49ers season-ticket holders at the Santa Clara Convention Center this evening, but he could’ve fooled me. The coach, president Jed York and personnel chief Trent Baalke took turns bubbling with optimism, and the fans lapped it up. All that was missing was a bonfire, some pom-poms and parade floats making fun of the Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks.
Despite all the positive vibes, the three men did not say much of substance, or at least much that hadn’t been said before. Perhaps they were chastened by Singletary’s performance at last year’s State of the Franchise, where he generated headlines by admitting the 49ers might take a look at Michael Vick.
The crowd cheered when the names Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Taylor Mays were announced, and again when Singletary talked about being physical enough to finish games. But mostly they cheered for the coach himself, giving him a standing ovation upon his introduction, as he looked on stony-faced.
Here are some highlights from the three-man presentation.
• York took the stage first, after MC Ted Robinson had noted that you can see the 7-year-old York standing next to uncle Eddie DeBartolo during the locker-room celebration after Super Bowl XXIII, and said that the 49ers have “a great brand, a great icon.”
• York divulged that original team owners Tony and Vic Morabito will be enshrined in the 49ers Hall of Fame this year, and that the Niners will honor Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Rice during the Monday-night home opener vs. the Saints.
• Season-tickets sales are better than they have been in “a long, long time.”
• Sounds like the 49ers are working hard to improve the fan experience this year. They will offer “early fan rewards” to those showing up early at Candlestick, doling out field access, food and beverage coupons, etc. Mobile-phone apps will offer instant replays of the action, and a program called My 49ers Rewards will allow fans to build points at places like Starbucks that can be redeemed for cash or discounts on season tickets.
• York vows that if the proposed stadium is built in Santa Clara, fans will be able to leave the facility 50-percent more quickly than they can get away from Candlestick, good news for the handful of fans still trying to exit the final game of the 2007 season.
• The 49ers’ head scout said he asked head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson whether there would be any trainers at the State of the Franchise. When Fergie asked why, Baalke answered, “I may go down.” He did seem nervous before the presentation, but did just fine on stage.
• Baalke replayed much of the video he showed to reporters after the draft, featuring highlights of the eight 2010 picks. The crowd loved it, though I had hoped I’d never again have to see that grainy film of Phillip Adams intercepting a pass for South Carolina State.
• He said the 49ers wanted Navorro Bowman in the third round, but had an opportunity to trade back and pick up an extra fourth-round selection. They made the trade and got Bowman anyway.
• Mr. Intensity began his address by recalling that last January, the 49ers asked, “What do we do to avoid that empty feeling, when you want to keep playing but you have eliminated yourself?” The answers: 1) If you say you want to be a physical team, you have to have an offensive line with “teeth that can bite.” 2) Get more depth and more speed in the secondary. 3) Find a punt returner. Surprise! The 49ers did all three over the offseason.
• The coach is ready for camp to begin: “I can’t wait to see the guys. I can’t wait to see their faces.”
• Talking about additions to his staff, Singletary called O-line coach Mike Solari “one of the finest coaches anywhere in America.”
• Sing: “I think we’re as talented as any team out there.”
• And finally: “This weekend is the start of something really special. It’s a new era. I don’t want to talk about it a whole lot. There’s too much work to be done. … But by the end of training camp, by the start of the season, we will be ready.”
And that’s just the formal stuff. Reporters got their chance to ask questions afterward, and I will pass along the answers later.