With their season opener less than one week away, the 49ers need a strong week of preparation mentally and physically to start 2012 off on the right foot. Things could not have gotten off to a worse start when outside linebacker Parys Haralson, a 2011 starter was placed on the injured reserved Monday with a torn left triceps.
This loss left a bad feeling around the team for several reasons. The loss of any starter is devastating, but losing one in a position where there is already a lack of depth is troubling. The team just released four outside linebackers, and once again, the timing could not have been worse. It was difficult to put a positive spin on a day in which they were left with two outside linebackers, just days away from facing the Green Bay Packers.
It seemed a tall order and more or less impossible to find a players. It would be simple to find a quick fix, but for a team that relies heavily on its defense, the 49ers would need someone who could efficiently contribute to the team and fix the problem. But to find someone who missed all of training camp to come in and actually contribute immediately would be impossible, right? This was the thought around the 49ers, and then with their final roster moves, division rival Arizona released Clark Haggan.
Clark Haggan brings with him 13 years of experience and 46.5 career sacks. Most importantly though, he has played in a similar system to the 49ers’ menacing 3-4 defense. Haggan has not only proven his ability to play at a high level, but he’s also demonstrated durability by starting all 16 games last year for the Arizona Cardinals. Before his stint with the Cardinals, he played with the Steelers, so his resume speaks for itself. Haggan brings with him a rugged, hard-nosed style that fits perfectly with the 49ers’ identity.
Although he brings hope to the team, the signing of Haggans is bittersweet––at least for now. He was arrested for a DUI in April of 2011, and has a hearing with the NFL on Wednesday to see what disciplinary action will be taken. If Haggan is unable to play, it will be on the able shoulders of Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks to apply pressure to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game, which is going to be crucial if the defense hopes to have a chance of slowing Green Bay down. Even if Haggan is not allowed to play Sunday, he has taken the blow out of the loss of Haralson.
On top of all the other jitters that come with the first game, the ability to know that the recent loss of a starter will not hinder a very promising season will go a long way. Not to mention that Clark Haggans is pretty good, and a change of scenerary will do nothing but fuel his drive. It would not be surprising to see him have an impact along the lines of Justin Smith, another veteran who joined the team, although under very different circumstances.
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Jerrell Richardson is a sports fanatic who grew up in the Bay Area experiencing both the ups and downs of local sports. He attended college at San Diego State University and has had the ability to witness every major sports team in the state of California in person. His work can be found on Examiner.com.