Niners building on momentum, while Raiders stuck doing damage control 

click to enlarge Niners GM Trent Baalke, pictured, is able to focus on building last year’s foundation, while across the Bay, Reggie McKenzie must unload overpaid players. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Niners GM Trent Baalke, pictured, is able to focus on building last year’s foundation, while across the Bay, Reggie McKenzie must unload overpaid players.

The 49ers and Raiders are approaching the 2012 season quite differently. The 49ers are trying to mount another attack at the Super Bowl. The Raiders are trying to undo the damage caused by the ridiculous contracts Al Davis gave out in the two years before his death.

Niners general manager Trent Baalke set his primary mission as keeping together a defense that was at the core of the 49ers’ run to the NFC Championship Game.

Baalke kept all 11 starters, with corner Carlos Rogers as the final piece. He released backup corner Shawntae Spencer, a one-time starter, but he had already signed Perrish Cox, who sat out last season and has some emotional baggage. He’s coming to a solid team, though, and he was also an excellent kick returner in college, which will be important if Ted Ginn Jr. decides to leave.

The 49ers’ offense is still a work in progress, starting with a new, multiyear contract for quarterback Alex Smith. Both Smith and the team want him to return, so that will get done.

One important piece left this week, as Adam Snyder signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Snyder has been valuable as a versatile lineman who can play guard, tackle or center, and he solidified the offensive line last year when he took over at guard for Chilo Rachal, who is also expected to leave. No regrets there. Rachal was a swinging door, allowing pass rushers an easy shot at Smith.

Offensive linemen are a high priority, and the 49ers brought in three-time Pro Bowler Leonard Davis for a tryout this week. They still will probably look for an offensive linemen in the first round of the draft, and hope to pick up others later.

Receivers are also a prime need, but they’re easier to find, even after the Niners lost Josh Morgan to the Washington Redskins this week.

The signing of Randy Moss was a surprise, but I think it’s a good move. Moss is an undeniable talent and, after sitting out last year, he’ll have something to prove. Forget his bad years with the Raiders. He was coming to a team without discipline. That won’t be true with the Niners.

The top free-agent receivers were too expensive, but the Niners are looking at Brandon Lloyd, who started his career in San Francisco, and Mario Manningham, who made big Super Bowl catches for the New York Giants, as well as former Raiders receiver Chaz Schillens.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are unloading big contracts almost daily. Both starting corners from last season, Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, are gone. So is tight end Kevin Boss, defensive tackle John Henderson and offensive guard Cooper Carlisle. Overpaid and underproducing linebacker Kameron Wimbley is expected to follow.

This is why Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie gave coach Dennis Allen a four-year contract. He knew it would be at least a couple of years before the Raiders would be playoff contenders, so he wanted to give Allen the chance to install his systems.

But for the 49ers, it’s full speed ahead. Baalke still has some challenges ahead in free agency and the draft, but the Niners will be in the championship hunt again.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on Email him at

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Glenn Dickey

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