Have 49ers improved? Analyzing the offense

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Have 49ers improved? Analyzing the offense

Through two weeks of free agency, the 49ers' offense has seen . . . --The departure of starting right guard Adam Snyder;
--The addition of wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, along with the loss of Josh Morgan;
--The re-signing of starting quarterback Alex Smith, and the addition of former Tampa Bay backup Josh Johnson.MAIOCCO: Have 49ers improved? Analyzing defense, special teams
So, as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh likes to say, you never stay the same, let's take a look at whether the 49ers' offense has improved, position-by-position, with their pre-draft moves:Offensive line: Expect right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati to make noticeable improvements because they'll get their first full offseasons of work with the coaches. Right now, Daniel Kilgore is slated to take over at right guard for Snyder, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Kilgore might end up as the starter, but expect him to be challenged by a player-to-be-added-later. Bottom line: Improvement, based on four spots remaining static and an offseason of work together.Tight ends: Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker are back. Blocking specialist Nate Byham returns after missing last season with an ACL tear. Bottom line: Improvement, as Davis will have a firm grasp of the offense from the beginning of the season.Wide receivers: In the NFC championship game, the 49ers' wideouts were Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Brett Swain. Right now, the 49ers have Randy Moss and Mario Manningham under contract, along with Crabtree, Ted Ginn and Williams. Moss did not play last season, and he's essentially on a six-month tryout with the team to see if he can prove he deserves a role on the team. Manningham was the clear No. 3 with the New York Giants behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. With Manningham, Crabtree and Moss, the 49ers should be able to find two starting-caliber receivers and a good No. 3 man, too. Bottom line: Improvement -- but there are still a lot of questions.Running backs: Frank Gore rushed for 1,211 yards -- the second-highest rushing total of his seven-year career. After five straight 100-plus yard games from Games 4 through 8, Gore went 10 games without rushing for 100 yards in a game. Kendall Hunter was a good change-of-pace back, and Anthony Dixon has not won the confidence of the organization. Bottom line: Slight dip, based on another year or wear and tear on Gore, who turns 29 in May and has been the team's every-down back for six seasons.
Quarterbacks: Alex Smith re-signed after the failed bid to convince Peyton Manning that the 49ers were his best option. Colin Kaepernick has been joined by free-agent pickup Josh Johnson. Last season, Kaepernick and undrafted Scott Tolzien were Smith's backups. Bottom line: Improvement, based on Smith and Kaepernick being in the same system for a second year, and the addition of Johnson to increase the competition.

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.

The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.

Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.

The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.

The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.