2006 season recap
PFrom spoiled to spoiler to ...
The 49ers made great progress during Mike Nolan's first season, finishing 7-9. The highlight came when the 49ers ended the Broncos' playoff hopes with an overtime victory in the season finale. Nolan has since declared that making the playoffs, not just spoiling them, is the team's goal for 2007. That is one of the reasons why the 49ers are a trendy sleeper pick.
Key camp questions
How will Alex Smith respond with yet another offensive coordinator?
With Norv Turner now the Chargers head coach, Smith is working with his third offensive coordinator in three pro seasons. This time, however, there is some continuity -- new coordinator Jim Hostler served as quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. The biggest question facing Smith might not be the coach calling the plays, but rather the offensive line blocking for him. Look for Smith to improve if he gets time in the pocket.
Can Vernon Davis be the next Antonio Gates?
The 49ers made Davis the sixth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and taking a tight end that high brings high expectations with it. But there's no denying the big-play potential he showed in between stints on the injured list as a rookie. The 49ers are counting on him to produce Gates-type numbers, but he's going to have to stay healthy to do it.
What's in store for Gore in 2007?
Don't feel bad if you hadn't heard of Frank Gore before last season. You weren't alone. Gore rushed for 108 yards in the final game of 2005, but not many people figured he would rush for 1,695 yards in 2006. Now there are expectations for Gore to live up to -- and he's got lofty standards for himself. After rushing for 1,695 yards in '06, Gore is aiming for a 2,000-yard season. The 49ers coaching staff also believes in Gore, with plans to give him 20 to 25 attempts per game.
Key position battle
Player on the spot
Jackson recorded a career-best 10 touchdowns last season, but he missed three contests due to injuries and has missed 13 of his past 32 games overall. Now a prominent option for the 49ers, the veteran remains a viable No. 2 fantasy wideout but does come with a bit of risk.