Now that the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl are out of the way – and the early odds posted about which teams are favored to win the next Super Bowl – the San Francisco 49ers and their fans can start focusing on next season.
After all, it’s only eight months until the first game of the 2012 regular season.
Between now and that first kickoff, there is much to do.
Yesterday, the Bovada Sportsbook in Las Vegas made the 49ers’ odds to win the next Super Bowl 16-1, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Packers, at 6-1, are the favorites, followed by the Patriots (7-1), Saints (8-1), Texans, Eagles and Steelers (12-1), Ravens (14-1) and Super Bowl-champion Giants (15-1). The Niners, Chargers and Jets all are listed at 16-1.
But the makeup of the Niners coaching staff, front office and roster may well change greatly by opening day.
Already, changes are occurring. Several news organizations have reported that Tom Gamble, the 49ers’ director of player personnel, is a candidate for the Rams’ general manager position. And the 49ers need to make decisions about whether to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith, which player to put the franchise tag on, which free agents to pursue and which players to draft in April.
As for this offseason, here are some key dates to remember:
- Feb. 20: This is the date teams can first place the franchise tag on a key free agent from their roster.
- Feb. 22-28: The NFL Combine in Indianapolis will provide the 49ers a chance to see the talent available in this year’s draft. San Francisco will have the 30th overall pick in the first round.
- March 5: Deadline for placing a franchise tag on a player.
- March 13: Let free agency begin. If the Niners want to hit the open market for a wide receiver, this is the day they can do it.
- April 26-28: The NFL Draft in New York. The 49ers have the No. 30 selection in all seven rounds of the selection procedure.
- July and August: Training camps open, with exhibition games following.
In addition, the 49ers will hold offseason workouts and mini-camps in March, April, May and June, with specific dates still to be announced.