2007 Results: 5-11
2008 Projected Cap Status: $12,457,200 under the cap
2007 Season Recap: Determined to vastly improve their 7-9 record in 2006, the 49ers spent a lot of money in their 2007 shopping spree that included the signings of cornerback Nate Clements (to an $80 million contract), safety Michael Lewis, and wide receivers Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie. The team also added linebacker Patrick Willis with its first round selection in the 2007 draft. It’s safe to say only one of those names really perked up the ears of 49ers fans every game. Willis led the team in tackles with 174, forced two fumbles and had four sacks. He became the first 49ers rookie since Ronnie Lott to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. He also was named to the Associated Press’ All-Pro Team, was named Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, and earned the title of NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year. The 49ers have a lot to look forward to in Willis, but the rest of the team remains an unknown after a disappointing 5-11 season. The team hit free agency hard again for the second straight year in 2008 in hopes of improvement.
1. Wide Receiver – With new offensive coordinator Mike Martz on board, expect more of an attempt to build a strong passing attack. The team brought in veteran Isaac Bruce, who played for Martz in St. Louis, and former Cardinal Bryant Johnson. Bruce won’t be around forever and no one is sure what to expect from Bryant Johnson, who was stuck behind Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald on the depth charts in Arizona.
2. Offensive Line – Kwame Harris (now with the Oakland Raiders) never developed into the lineman the team envisioned after investing a lot of time and money to the 26th overall pick in the 2003 draft. The team lost Justin Smiley to the Dolphins and Larry Allen is a free agent, so the team will need to address the line to protect whoever is under center in 2008, whether it is the incumbent former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith or late bloomer Shaun Hill.
3. Defensive Tackle – The 49ers have a very young and unproven group of defensive tackles. With the loss of legend Bryant Young, the team doesn’t have a veteran presence to mentor them. Perhaps a talented high-round draft pick could do the trick by letting his play on the field do the talking in 2008.