Season Review: They, like their NFC West bretheren picking directly ahead of them, chewed through quarterbacks and had a disappointing season.  Worse yet, it was a season that began with expectations of winning the division, and making a deep playoff run.  Instead, after opening the season getting blown out by eventual division champ Seattle, they lost the next six games- including providing one half of #1 overall Carolina’s win total for the year.  It was ugly.  Somehow, they were alive in the playoff race until St Louis dropped them in week 16.  Singaltary was fired, and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh replaced him.

Needs: The biggest, in my estimation, has been addressed.  Mike Singaltary had no business being a head coach.  While he is certainly a supreme motivator (although my coach mooning me wouldn’t do much), and did coax production out of petulant tight end Vernon Davis, he simply was not head coach material.  He was lost when it came to game planning and adjustments, and it showed and cost the 49ers the two games they would have needed to reach the playoffs.  On field, the situation at QB is precarious, with former top pick Alex Smith all but gone, and while Troy Smith played well, I wouldn’t bet on him sticking around.

Where Palmer and McNabb end up figures to reshape the entire 2011 draft

New Wrinkle That Changes Everything: Carson Palmer announced Sunday he would be demanding a trade from the Bengals.  I will be updating the previews ahead of this one, so check those out.  However, I believe Palmer will shake up this draft.  A first-round tag would not surprise me, and would certainly change a lot.  With that said, here’s what I think:

They Should Do: This is touchy.  They are literally a QB away from contention, and there are two on the market: Palmer and McNabb (although Mike Brown is saying he won’t trade Palmer.  Whatever), so the decision they are faced with is do they draft one, and hope he’s not a bust (Jake Locker is long gone if Cincy enters the QB fray at the top of the draft), stick with Troy Smith for a year, or make a play for one of the veterans and get a QB next year (Cough, Luck/Harbaugh reunion, cough)?  I say they make a play for a veteran, and wait a year.  McNabb is my guess, as his asking price will be less, if anything.  So then what?  Oh, yeah- the draft.  Sitting at #7 overall, with a veteran QB, two new offensive linemen, a top-10 WR and pro-bowl tight end- the draft is their oyster.  While the 49ers were decent against the run, their secondary still needs help.  Nebraska’s stand-out corner, Prince Amukamara fits the bill perfectly.

They Will Do: is still anyone’s guess, but I think it should play out something like that.  If they fall in love with Palmer, it will probably take this pick to get him.  I doubt they make that trade, but stranger things have happened.  My guess is McNabb gets cut, and an Fransisco picks him up.  That will give them stability at the QB position without sacrificing vital building blocks for the future.  And if it doesn’t work, Andrew Luck awaits.