Killion: Dreary outlook for Harbaugh, 49ers

July 30, 2011, 4:34 am
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Ann Killion
The 49ers handed out rosters on their first day of training camp.

Tried to make a ham sandwich with mine. Thought it was a piece of Swiss.Yes, there are a lot of holes in the 49ers roster. Not little holes, but big gaping ones at key positions. Positions that successful NFL teams generally need.Like:A starting center. Eric Heitman was released on Thursday. David Baas agreed to terms with the Giants.A top-line wide receiver. Michael Crabtrees recurrent foot injury will keep him out of action for four to six weeks. In other words, Crabtree will miss another training camp.A settled secondary. The 49ers released Nate Clements for cap space, failed to land Nnamdi Asomugha who signed with the Eagles and may be in a bidding war for Dashon Goldsons services.A starting running back. Frank Gore didnt report to camp, looking for a contract extension, and no one knows when hell be in.An upgrade at veteran quarterback. Alex Smith was signed for a seventh year while more intriguing prospects like Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb went elsewhere.MAIOCCO: Harbaugh misses three key 49ers at campThey also lost a locker room leader in Takeo Spikes. But, hey, they replaced replaced Joe Nedney at kicker.The storyline from Friday was supposed to be all about the launching of the new and improved Jim Harbaugh era. Harbaugh was the big fish the 49ers landed in the offseason and to make no mistake - he was an important one.Hes the first offensive-minded coach the 49ers have had in seven seasons. He was the most coveted coach on the open market back in January. He brings a new enthusiasm and vigor to the 49ers. But instead of a happy storyline about Harbaughs debut, the news coming out of the 49ers this week was increasingly dismal.And while its true that the 49ers recent coaches have been disasters, the organization needs more than just a new coach. They need upgrades in personnel. So it was troubling to hear owner Jed York say in a conference call this week that the 49ers efforts would be focused on resigning their own free agents and that he thought the team was close to competing for the playoffs.On Friday afternoon, when the free agent period officially opened and the NFL Network was blaring Free Agent Frenzy, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was standing on the field watching practice. Any visions 49ers fans might have had of Baalke huddled in his office simultaneously working two land lines, a Blackberry and an iPhone to get help for the 49ers were incorrect. Baalke watched the entire practice, chatted with Harbaugh for a while after it was over and strolled off the field.RELATED: 49ers camp report: Harbaugh runs the show
Despite the apparent inactivity while the rest of the league is consumed with musical players, Harbaugh insists there is a plan.I do, Ive been involved in it and Trent Baalke and I are talking every day, on it and executing that plan and I think smartly, he said. I feel good about it and time and results will judge if we were correct in our thinking.He added, when asked if patience was part of his plan, that three quarters of the teams in the National Football League are taking that approach right now. It doesnt feel like that, with bidding wars breaking out all over. The Eagles and Patriots got a lot better. Other NFC teams the Falcons, the Bears, the Saints all have made moves. More relevant to the 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals just improved with the acquisition of Kolb. The 49ers arent just standing pat; they seem to be leaking players. And if you were to rank the teams in the weak NFC West right now, youd probably put the 49ers at the bottom.Before the lockout the storyline that was penciled in for July 29, the opening day of training camp, was the exciting debut of Harbaugh. The actual story on Friday was quite a bit drearier.