2015 NFL Preview: San Francisco 49ers

2015 NFL Preview: San Francisco 49ers

No team in the NFL has endured as tumultuous an offseason as the San Francisco 49ers. On the heels of a disappointing 8-8 2014 campaign, the Niners parted ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who compiled a 44-19-1 record with three straight NFC title game appearances from 2011-2013. What followed was a succession of car crashes. Justin Smith hung up his cleats. Linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired. Starting tackle Anthony Davis announced he was sitting out 2015 to heal his brain and body. Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Chris Culliver, Dan Skuta, and Perrish Cox all left in free agency. Three-time Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee was traded to Cleveland for a 7rh-round draft pick. Aldon Smith was released after being arrested for DUI. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson was suspended for the first six games of the upcoming season. Hoo-boy! Here’s a preview of the 2015 San Francisco 49ers.

Outlook: New head coach Jim Tomsula has been dealt a garbage hand. A once dominant defense has been stripped bare. The offense is relying on erratic Colin Kaepernick to morph into a legitimate franchise quarterback with a suspect group of skill position players surrounding him. They play in an ultra competitive division boasting two playoff teams and the rising Rams. The schedule is absolutely brutal. Needless to say, the prospects for a fruitful season are dim at best. San Fran might be really bad, like Top 5 draft pick in 2016 bad.

Later, dude: This has already been covered, but to recap: Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Chris Culliver, Mike Iupati, Dan Skuta, Perrish Cox, and Andy Lee have all departed. That’s a starting lineup plus two worth of players walking out the door. With the exception of Johnson, all of them will be greatly missed. Gore is old, but he was a consistent and sturdy presence in the backfield. Borland called it a career at age 24, citing future health concerns. Culliver and Cox were starting corners a season ago. Lee was jettisoned because they drafted a punter in the 5th round.

Welcome aboard: Yes, the front office did find time to acquire players to help patch the gaping holes. Wide receiver Torrey Smith brings a Super Bowl ring and burning speed, but also a hit-or-miss track record. Reggie Bush has never reached his college success, due in large part to injuries, but he does bring value as a situational weapon. Darnell Docket is 34 and coming off a torn ACL that cost him all of 2014, but he’s a disruptive force up front when healthy. Journeyman guard/tackle Erik Pears will offer a semblance of relief in the absence of Davis and Iupati. Cornerback Shareece Wright is a downgrade from Culliver and Cox, but he’s at least an experienced starter. Same can be said for linebacker Philip Wheeler. Rookies Arik Armstead, Eli Harold, Trenton Brown, and Ian Silberman could all see significant snaps due to a glaring lack of depth.

Over/Under wins – 7.5: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Green Bay in the first month means 0-4 is a real possibility. All signs point toward a major decline. A 4-12 finish wouldn’t be surprising.

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