As for the offense, it struggled last season for the first time in the Montana era. The big problem? The running game. Craig had his worst season as pro, rushing for only 439 yards, and he has joined the Raiders as a Plan B free agent. Until 5'8" Dexter Carter proves he can be an every-down back, or until the Niners trade for one—they've already talked to the Kansas City Chiefs about one of their big backs, and John Stephens is being shopped by the New England Patriots—the running game will be a big weakness.
But that sort of weakness is hard to notice on a blisteringly hot day at the 49er camp in Northern California, when Montana's throwing deep to Jerry Rice and Haley is steaming in over left tackle. These guys still look super.
4. Will Bo Jackson ever play football again?
Even Bo doesn't know. In the hours they've spent together planning the rehabilitation of the most famous hip injury in sports history, Bo Jackson and his orthopedic surgeon, James Andrews, have not broached the subject of his return to the Raiders. Not once. "We'll worry about football when football gets here," Jackson has told Andrews. They have focused solely on his return to baseball, with a goal of being activated by the Chicago White Sox for pinch-hitting or DH duties, activities that wouldn't seriously aggravate the left hip. (The back of the hip socket was fractured and some cartilage was sheared away while Jackson was being tackled in a playoff game in January.)
"Our goals from the outset," says Andrews, "have been, number one, to get him as good a hip as possible for the rest of his life; and number two, to get him back playing professional sports. His rehabilitation has gone extremely well. The main thing is, he has picked up his tempo, he's in a walking and running program now, and he's not having any hip pain. But I have no idea whether he'll be able to play football, except to say, if it's possible, he'll be there."
Jackson has told Raider coach Art Shell that if he plays baseball again, he'll try to play football too. He has said that he'll report to the Raiders within 10 days after the baseball season ends, as his contract specifies. He has told friends that he doesn't want to walk away from the NFL without a Super Bowl ring.
"Everybody told Christopher Columbus the world was fiat, so he had to sail around the world to show them," says Raider running back Marcus Allen. "Bo's exactly like that."
The guess here is that Jackson will move mountains to play football again. Just because.
5. Will the Giants miss Bill Par cells?
There's a smugness in the Giants' camp. It's almost as if this team is saying, We've outgrown Bill Parcells, and we're going to prove it to you.