Greetings. First time poster, long time lurker.
There has been a lot of talk with the Bradford injury on what direction the team should go. I think that we need to critically assess what is losing us games and focus our efforts on improving those areas on our team. I understand that people are impatient with Bradford, and I agree compared to RW, Kaepernick, Luck, and RGIII I wished he would be further along. However, this is not what is killing us. Anyway, here's my breakdown:
QB: Bradford, up to the injury, was an average QB with potential for possibly more. I don't think he is the reason we are 3-4, and we are too cap-strapped to think about moving on anyway. Thus, he remains #1 next year. We have no serviceable backup, and I believe that a 3rd-5th round pick would be a good choice to get one.
RB: Stacy appears to be an adequate player, if he stays healthy. Unless you are talking about a bonafide superstar (i.e. AP), I don't think we should waste a high draft pick on a position where it is possible to find a decent player much lower. For every Steven Jackson, there is a Lawrence Phillips, Isaiah Pead, etc...
WR: I really like the potential in our group. The key is Brian Quick; if he is an all-star in 2-3 years, we will be very good; if not, we will continue to be mediocre. If he can cut the drops/mental errors and play more physical, he can be a #1. I would also like to see more Stedman Bailey, as I am unsure Chris Givens will ever be more than a deep threat. Tavon is fine, cut the penalties and he is in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year. I don't know that our OC really has the creativity to him to his full potential.
TE: I don't know that Cook really fits in Schottenheimer's scheme. I don't know that our OC really has the creativity to use him to his full potential (funny how I could paste that from above). Kendricks/Harkey are better fits, to me.
OL: Our pass blocking has been adequate. Our run blocking is putrid. We will need to replace Barksdale/Saffold and Williams/Smith at the very least. I would be pleased with a high draft pick here, along the lines of the others suggested.
DL: I understand the concern about the DT spot; however, I don't think that our defenive line is losing us games. The only reason we haven't seen the production of last year is because we are consistently >7 points down; I feel like we are built like the recent Indianapolis Colts. No need for another pick here (which means this is the direction we will go).
LB: JL55 is a good pro, not great. Ogletree could wind up being great; he certainly has a nose for the ball. Dunbar seems about average; at some point, we could use an upgrade, but I don't think that our LB position is losing us games.
DB: By far, our worst personnel group. These guys haven't been able to cover anyone. The question is: is it scheme or talent. I don't know the answer, but it is demoralizing to the rest of the team to constantly give up easy throws on 3rd and short. I would think JJ would do betterCut Finnegan after this season for cap room, a slow corner is a useless corner. We need to be using high picks on CB/S; in my opinion, we need at least 2 corners and a safety.
P: Hekker is fine; no need for change.
K: Zuerlein will be an all-star at some point; no need to change.
Coaching staff: I think Fisher is an average coach, which is a vast improvement above previous. Both OC/DC can hit the bricks, with DC leaving ASAP. There has been very few times this year I have been able to say, "That was a great play drawn up by the coaching staff." I'm not sure that at any point this year, including the Texan game, that we have out-coached our opposition. We have improved in the red zone. I would like Tavon to get out of the screen game; if you want to throw it out there, wait until someone is playing off and throw it to a big body like Quick. Get Tavon out of the hook game too; he should always be hit in stride, no matter the direction. The defense is underachieving compared to their talent; that is either the DC's fault or Fisher's fault or both.
GM: I think Snead is bringing in talented people; I'm not sure all hes players fit in with the philosophy of the coaching staff (see: Cook, Jared). All and all, as long as he drafts well , he should stay.