As the Seattle Seahawks blasted the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl 43-8 it left the question that the San Francisco 49ers are wondering. How will we dethrone the champs next year? That’s a question that not only the Niners are asking, but also 31 other NFL teams.
Dethroning Seattle won’t be easy as they will have pretty much their same team in tact next season. They are probably going to re-sign Earl Thomas and extend Richard Sherman’s contract as well, who are by now known as half of the most feared secondary in the NFL the “Legion of Boom.” Also, Golden Tate and Michael Bennett, two other key free agents, both said they would take less money to return to Seattle. Even if Seattle has their full team back and adds a receiver or two in the draft or free agency, the Niners are still step for step with them and will once again be the team with the best chance to beat the Seahawks.
Seeing the way the Niners battled the Seahawks in the NFC championship game 3 weeks ago should give the Niners lots of hope moving into next season as they should return with a team that will be almost completely healthy except for Navarro Bowman. They will have new players in the fold from last years’ draft including running back Marcus Lattimore, as well as defensive linemen Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. There could also be some rookies or free agents who they are able to sign as well who could participate.
The Niners should look to re-sign receiver Anquan Boldin along with kicker Phil Dawson and possibly Strong Safety Donte Whitner. The Niners also should draft another receiver, as well as adding a shutdown corner and a great covering strong safety to ensure that they have enough pieces in places to dethrone Seattle because they were one play or inches away from beating the Seahawks in Seattle as it was.
But, with most Super Bowl contenders with young quarterbacks, the question will be whether or not those quarterbacks develop into championship caliber quarterbacks. That’s the same thing with the Niners and Colin Kaepernick. The Niners need him to take another step forward in his development in order for them to truly beat Seattle when it counts. He needs to get better at reading defenses, making throws from the pocket, and not being so anxious to run prior to going through his progressions.
If he improves upon those things there’s no question the Niners could find themselves back in the NFC championship game or even lifting Lombardi Trophy number 6. They are a highly motivated team and probably even more motivated knowing that their biggest rival and team that they hate the most won the Super Bowl, which was something this current team hasn’t done yet.
Taking another look at the Super Bowl, most Niner fans were probably mad that the Seahawks won, but in essence this made the Niners look even better knowing that they lost on the final play of the game and outplayed Seattle for most of the game until the fourth quarter. As Richard Sherman said after the Super Bowl, “ The NFC Championship game was the Super Bowl. The Niners were the second best team in the NFL.” That’s absolutely true and it’s safe to expect that these two team will hook up three times again next season because these are the two best teams in the NFC and NFL.
The Niners need to be successful in the offseason. As discussed above the Niners need to re-sign Boldin and have a successful draft as they have 11 picks in the coming draft at their disposal. The Niners should look at adding another receiver as well as helping out a secondary which was the weakest part of their defense last season.
For receiver, the Niners should go with someone who can stretch the field from the slot position and be their bonafide deep threat. Kaepernick’s strength is throwing the ball down the field as he has a cannon and adding a deep threat will make this offense even better than it already is. Some possible deep threats in the draft are Odell Beckham Jr out of LSU and Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State, who has a little Desean Jackson in him. Sammy Watkins is also a possibility, though the Niners would have to give a bounty to get him because he’s the best receiver in the draft and will be a top five pick.
For corners, there’s not too many early in the draft for the Niners to choose from, but one in particular that stands out is Stanley Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska. Watching him on film he looks a lot like that guy who plays for Seattle who Niner fans despise. Yes, he looks a lot like Richard Sherman. He’s 6’3 220 and could actually play safety as well. He’d be a good first round investment. There’s also some quality middle to late round corners out there who would be good value picks.
The Niners aren’t that far off from taking down Seattle. They may have a little better roster if everybody is healthy and re-signed and they address some of the weaknesses they have. If the Niners improve their team and their quarterback continues to improve then there’s no telling how good this team could be.