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Auditing The San Francisco 49ers 2008 Season
Christopher Reina. 2nd February, 2009 - 11:13 pm

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Record: 7-9
Trench Counter: -1.1 (22nd)
Point differential per game: -2.6 (23rd)
Payroll: $118.8M (11th)
Cost Per Win: $17.0M (24th)
Passing offense: 211.2 (13th)
Rushing offense: 99.9 (27th)
Passing defense: 219.2 (20th)
Rushing defense: 106.8 (13th)
Turnover differential: -1.1 (31st)
Strength of schedule: 18th

If their season were a song: Carousels - Beirut

Game-by-Game (Score, Trench Counter)
Week 1: ARI, 13-23, Loss, -1.2
Week 2: at SEA, 33-30 Win, 10.3
Week 3: DET, 31-13 Win, 19.8
Week 4: at NO, 17-31 Loss, -4.1
Week 5: NE, 21-30 Loss, -11.3
Week 6: PHI, 26-40 Loss, 17.3
Week 7: at NYG, 17-29 Loss, -12.3
Week 8: SEA, 13-34 Loss, -4.7
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at ARI, 24-29 Loss, -11.7
Week 11: STL, 35-16 Win, 7.9
Week 12: at DAL, 22-35 Loss, 0.8
Week 13: at BUF, 10-3 Win, -9.0
Week 14: NYJ, 24-14 Win, 10.6
Week 15: at MIA, 9-14 Loss, 3.6
Week 16: at STL, 17-16 Win, -6.4
Week 17: WSH, 27-24 Win, 7.7

49ers Season Review

The Mike Nolan era came to an unceremonious end and it was Mike Singletary who usurped him. Nolan was 18-37 as head coach of the 49ers and clearly drove the team backwards on the field and on paper after a peak of 7-9 in 2006.

Mike Martz joined the 49ers on the offensive coordinator carousel in what was a failed one-year salvage stint.

When Singletary and Shaun Hill took over for Nolan and J.T. O'Sullivan, the 49ers had a very strong second half by winning five of their final seven.

Reina Value and FIC Rank

Quarterbacks

- Shaun Hill (28th, 478, +81%)

Hill is almost certainly in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks but his intangibles, especially his ability to feel the pocket, make him a classic overachiever. His 87.5 passer rating is pretty good (better than Culter, McNabb and Eli), especially when considering the absence of receiving options and though nobody within the organization considers the position filled, Hill could very well be the perfect QB for the kind of football Singletary wants to play.

- J.T. O'Sullivan (30th, 352, +486%)

For about a week and a half, O'Sullivan looked like an unearthed gem at quarterback, but Seattle ended up a lot worse than expected and the Lions were historically awful.

Running Backs

- Frank Gore (14th, 577 [322 rushing, 255 receiving], -14%)

By a very wide margin, Gore was the Niners' most talented player on either side of the ball. He had a 4.3 yards per carry average and was the third leading receiver on the team.

- DeShaun Foster (69th, 142 [48 rushing, 94 receiving], -51%)

Foster's continued slide continues and showed why the Panthers cleared him out to make room for DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart. He averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and 76 carries for 234 yards.

- Michael Robinson (75th, 133 [6 rushing, 127 receiving], +6%)

Robinson averaged an incredibly low 2.6 yards per carry, but was fairly effective as a receiver, catching 17 balls for 202 yards, which was an 11.9 average.

Wide Receivers

- Isaac Bruce (31st, 557, +7%)

Bruce caught 61 balls for 835 yards in what was a much better than expected season at 36. He averaged 13.7 yards per reception, which was better than in his final season with the Rams.

- Bryant Johnson (57th, 361, +0%)

Johnson came over from Arizona and had essentially the game year as he had in 2007, while the 49ers strongly hoped for his 2006 in which he was a long ball threat with an 18.5 yards per catch average.

- Jason Hill (83rd, 214, +114%)

Hill caught 30 balls for 317 yards for two touchdowns.

- Josh Morgan (84th, 207, +271%)

Morgan caught just 20 balls, but had a 16.0 yards per catch average and three touchdowns. He made some excellent catches and is going to be given every opportunity to start in 2009.

- Arnaz Battle (85th, 201, -43%)

Battle caught 11 touchdowns over the previous three seasons and was shutout in 2008, while he caught just 24 balls after catching 59 and 50.

Tight End

- Vernon Davis (27th, 224, -52%)

Davis continued to fail to meet expectations or even approach the presumably very inflated opinion he has of himself. There are some things he does do well, so calling him a bust is not entirely fair or accurate, but it does seem certain that he will never be a top-five receiving tight end.

- Delaine Walker (47th, 95, +133%)

Walker caught just 10 balls, but he averaged an excellent 15.5 yards per carry.

Defensive Summary

Patrick Willis had another outstanding season in his second year in the league, carrying as big of a load as probably any single defensive player in the NFL. Willis had 109 solo tackles, one interception for a touchdown, but just one sack.

They really need an impact maker at safety, something their good defenses have had in various forms, whether it be Ronnie Lott or even Merton Hanks. Michael Lewis had a disappointing season, but he'll likely be back and they'll likely look for an upgrade at free safety where Mark Roman was both old and ineffective. An upgrade at free safety would surely make Nate Clements and Walt Harris much better at the corners.

They had 30 sacks, which was just below average, but standing in the pocket is something that opposing quarterbacks don't exactly lose sleep about on Saturday nights. Against the run, the Niners were ranked ninth on a per rush basis and were 16th in yards per pass.

Biggest draft needs

The Niners moved Joe Staley from right tackle to the left side and though he initially had some problems, he eventually adjusted and gives the club a solid young guy there for the foreseeable future. There are of course a wealth of left tackles available and could pay a LT price for a guy that eventually plays RT because San Francisco's line gave up an NFL-worst 55 sacks.

But I expect San Francisco to select a quarterback or a pass rusher. I think drafting Mark Sanchez with their 10th overall pick would be a big mistake, largely because I would put the probability of him even reaching Hill's level at about 50/50.

I would prefer Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin as that pass rusher upgrade.

Previous Audits

32. Detroit Lions

31. St. Louis Rams

30. Oakland Raiders

29. Cleveland Browns

28. Seattle Seahawks

27. Cincinnati Bengals

26. Kansas City Chiefs

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

24. Buffalo Bills

23. Denver Broncos

- Chris Reina is the executive editor of RealGM