The San Francisco 49ers started off the 2015 season on a high note. They managed to handle the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in week 1. It almost seemed like the organization could move on from the Jim Harbaugh saga.
However, it went downhill quickly for the 49ers under Jim Tomsula. He might have been the worst possible replacement for the team after what Jim Harbaugh accomplished and it showed.
The team finished 5-11, Colin Kaepernick lost the starting quarterback job to Blaine Gabbert and Tomsula lost his job after one season. Any time a head coach only gets one year it seems unfair but you’d have to think the 49ers had their eyes on another high profile coach.
As soon as Chip Kelly was out in Philadelphia, San Francisco struck a deal to bring him back to the west. Things just got a whole lot more interesting in the bay area.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The 49ers really didn’t have much going for them but they did have a stable of running backs. Carlos Hyde was looking pretty good before suffering a major foot injury and he wasn’t the only running back who got injured.
Reggie Bush and Mike Davis both suffered season ending injuries which meant Shaun Draughn got another shot in the NFL. Chip Kelly loves to run the football, having Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush as a one-two punch could do some damage.
Offensive line, defense, quarterback, wide receiver
This offensive line may have been good in the run game but they were awful otherwise. The only notable guy on the line is Joe Staley, outside of that they couldn’t block anyone. The 49ers allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league, and while Kaepernick was bad, getting sacked that many times does not help.
The San Francisco 49ers were not that bad on defense but they are incredibly young. They have some young players with potential like Corey Lemonier, Eric Reid, Quinton Dial and Arik Armstead.
That’s a decent core to have with vets like NaVarro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks. The fact is the team simply couldn’t recover from losing Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and Aldon Smith. The niners finished near the bottom of the league in sacks, interceptions and total yards allowed. Hopefully for niners fans their defense doesn’t get any worse.
Colin Kaepernick had the worst season of his career in 2015, and he only started eight games. He must be thrilled that Chip Kelly is coming to town and it could be a perfect fit for the two of them.
Chip Kelly can finally run the spread offense he wants with an athletic quarterback. Kaepernick’s biggest issue has always been his accuracy, he only had a 59 percent completion percentage this year.
Even if Kaepernick doesn’t work out Kelly could run the same offense with Blaine Gabbert who wasn’t awful in relief of Kaepernick. It’ll be interesting to see if the former Nevada quarterback’s worst years are behind him.
The team’s failure to keep Michael Crabtree hurt this team in the passing game. Torrey Smith looked like a great addition but he only proved to be a deep threat. The one constant was Anquan Boldin and he only has so many years left. This is a position that the 49ers need to upgrade desperately. They have a ton of cap space along with a high draft pick, there’s plenty of talent for them to look into.
PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:
WR Anquan Boldin
RB Reggie Bush
TE Garrett Celek
K Phil Dawson
2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($53.5 MILLION PROJECTED CAP SPACE):
OLB Von Miller
DT Haloti Ngata
WR Alshon Jeffery
LT Russell Okung
RT Andre Smith
2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (NO. 7 PICK):
WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)
WR Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh)
OT Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame)
DL Andrew Billings (Baylor)
Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:
NFC West: Los Angeles Rams