Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers                                          

2014 Record:  8-8-0 (3rd in NFC West)

HEAD COACH: Jim Tomsula

New Players in 2015 - RB Reggie Bush; WR Jerome Simpson; WR Torrey Smith; LB Nick Bellore; DL Darnell Dockett; OL Erik Pears; DB Shareece Wright.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 20th in NFL (327.4 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 5th in NFL (321.4 ypg)

Offense:  Colin Kaepernick (3,369 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and ten interceptions) is back as the starting quarterback with Blaine Gabbert backing him up. Kaepernick was also the second leading rusher on the team last year, gaining 639 yards (6.1 ypc average), including a 90-yard TD run.
Frank Gore, the team's leading rusher last year, left as a free agent and signed with Indianapolis.
This season the 49ers will have Carlos Hyde (333 rush yards, 4.0 ypc average and four TD) and Reggie Bush (297, 3.9 ypc and two TD and 40 receptions for 253 with Detroit) in the backfield. In addition, Kendall Hunter, who missed last season, is looking to be ready to go again and rookie Mike Davis (South Carolina) may get a chance as well.
The wide receivers will be Anquan Boldin (83 receptions, 1,062 yards and five TD) and Torrey Smith, who comes over from Baltimore after making 49 catches for 767 yards and eleven touchdowns. Youngsters Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton will be relied on this season and free agent Jerome Simpson provides depth.
The tight end is Vernon Davis, who will be looking to have a big bounce back season after seeing his production slip big time from year's past. Davis hauled in just 26 receptions for 245 yards and two scores last year.
The line has center Marcus Martin, tackles Anthony Davis and Joe Staley and guards Brandon Thomas and Alex Boone.

Defense:  Playing up front in the 3-4 set this season will be nose tackle Ian Williams and ends Tony Jerod-Eddie and 12-year veteran free agent Darnell Dockett. Top rookie pick Arik Armstead (Oregon) should see action early and often in the trenches.
The linebacking unit has Michael Wilhoite (two interceptions) and NaVorro Bowman playing the inside with Aaron Lynch (six QB sacks) and Ahmad Brooks (six sacks) on the outside spots. Rookie Eli Harold (Virginia), Nick Moody, Corey Lemonier, Nick Bellore, Desmond Bishop and Shayne Skov give the 'Niners plenty of depth.
The secondary has Tramaine Brock and Shareece Wright at the corners with Eric Reid (three INT) and Antoine Bethea (four picks) playing the safety positions. Rookie Jaquiski Tartt (Samford), along with Chris Cook, Dontae Johnson, Jimmie Ward and Craig Dahl, will look to contribute this season.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 -  There is a lot of personnel turnover for the 49ers coming into this season, including new Head Coach Jim Tomsula, who will have very big shoes to fill after former head man Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan.
The team was very inconsistent last season and sought to weed out some problem players who are no longer on the team roster heading into the 2015 season.
Offensively, Kaepernick will again run the offense and he can do damage with both his arm and his legs as he in considered to be one of the top running quarterbacks in the NFL. He has weapons with Boldin and Torrey Smith at the wideout spots. Having TE Vernon Davis get back to his old form would be huge for the offfense.
The running game no longer has Frank Gore, so the trio of backs (Hyde, Bush and Hunter) will have to step big time to keep opposing defenses honest. Kaepernick was sacked 52 times last season, so the line must do a much better job in pass protection.
The defense was solid last season, ranking fifth overall while getting 35 QB sacks and intercepting 23 passes, which contributed to a plus-seven in the turnover category.
However, the 49ers let some big leads slip away late, most notably a loss early in the season to Chicago and then late in the year to San Diego in which they blew double-digit leads in both games.
With so many changes on both sides of the football and a new coaching staff taking over, look for the team to have some bumps along the way while facing a difficult schedule through the first ten games.
Realistically this seems to be a rebuilding year for the team and a 7-9 finish seems likely for the 49ers this season, but if they can come together offensively and maintain on defense, they might do better.

Week 1 - vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 2 - at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 3 - at Arizona Cardinals
Week 4 - vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 5 - at New York Giants
Week 6 - vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 7 - vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 8 - at St. Louis Rams
Week 9 - vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 10 - BYE WEEK
Week 11 - at Seattle Seahawks
Week 12 - vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 13 - at Chicago Bears
Week 14 - at Cleveland Browns
Week 15 - vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 16 - at Detroit Lions
Week 17 - vs. St. Louis Rams

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