One of the biggest differences between how the 49ers' 2011 season ended and how 2012 promises to begin: There's more speed on offense.
Cornerback Carlos Rogers made note of that today on a conference call when he talked about two of the team's big-ticket additions in free agency, wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. Rogers often was matched up on Manningham on first and second downs in the two games against the Giants. In fact, an interception in the regular-season meeting came on a pass intended for Manningham.
"I faced him somewhat in Washington every year since he came (into) the league," Rogers said. "I know what type of receiver he is, and No. 1 he's got speed, and you can't coach that. That's just a threat in itself. ... If it wasn't for that huge catch he made in the Super Bowl, you're basically looking at New England holding up that trophy again."
On Moss: "I just hope we get just half of his ability," Rogers said. "Just his name's a threat out there, somebody you're not going to single cover. You've got to put a double out there for him, and it's going to open up space for a lot of those guys."
A consistent deep threat was a missing element for the 49ers for most of the season. The team had hoped Braylon Edwards would be that player, but he suffered a knee injury in Week 2 and never fully was incorporated into the offense. Ted Ginn filled in but he was injured in the divisional playoff game against New Orleans and did not play against the Giants.
Asked if the lack of a downfield threat was noticeable in the game against the Giants, Rogers demurred. "Oh I don't know what was missing," he said. "Speed is a big thing, but you don't have to have much ... (Michael) Crabtree don't have much speed but he can make a couple of unbelievable catches. I wouldn't say that speed was the thing that was missing. The (Giants) just made a few more plays than us. That's it. It came down to a few plays. It wasn't about speed or a certain guy didn't do this, do that. They made more plays than us to win it."
The 49ers ranked 16th in the league in the 2011 regular season by averaging 7.2 yards per completion. They had 41 pass plays of 20 or more yards, 23rd-best in the league. They had six pass plays of 40 or more yards, good for 26th in the league. Of those 40-plus-yard plays, Crabtree had three while Kyle Williams, Vernon Davis and Kendall Hunter had one apiece.
* On building of his 2011 season, the first in which he was named to the Pro Bowl: "I want to be one of the guys that some players look at and say, 'Oh he deserves to go back to the Pro Bowl, not because he's already been.'"
* On returning to the 49ers instead with another team that perhaps would have payed him more: Rogers asked what happened if his hypothetical new team were bad? "And when they want to turn the team around, ok, they're going to go after the people that are making the highest salary. Then I'll get cut. You know, I was thinking about all that stuff."
* On seeing all 11 defensive starters return for 2012: "It's really rare. Never in seven years I've played. This is a first for me, and I'm pretty sure it's rare for a lot of guys to have all 11 starters. And so many of the guys were free agents. And to be able to get those guys back ... it's a credit to our front office and all our coaches. And just guys in general who (stayed put) vs. going out to another team where they could get more (money) just have the team back together."
* He minimized the intimidation factor in having to tackle a 268-pound running back like new signee Brandon Jacobs: "The area I'm going to tackle him probably weighs 25 to 30 pounds, because I'm going to tackle him from his knees on down. I won't be from his knees up."
-- Matt Barrows