SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
2015 Record: 5-11-0
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
New Faces for 2016 - OL Zane Beadles, QB Thad Lewis
OFFENSE: Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback (1,615 passing yards with five TD and six interceptions along with 256 rushing yards, 5.6 ypc and one rushing TD) after missing eight games last season. Blaine Gabbert put up some decent numbers last season (2,031 pass yards with ten TD and seven INT) while Kaepernick was injured and will be ready to go again when needed.
Carlos Hyde will be the primary running back after leading the 49ers with 470 rushing yards in 2015 (4.1 ypc average) and he scored three touchdowns. Shaun Draughn (263, 3.5 ypc and one TD) will be in reserve along with Mike Davis and rookie Kelvin Taylor (Florida).
The wide receivers are Torrey Smith (33 receptions, 663 yards and four TD), Quinton Patton (30, 394, one TD) and Bruce Ellington (13, 153 yards) who will look to fill the big void that was left when Anquan Boldin went to the Detroit Lions. The tight end is Vance McDonald (30, 326, three TD) and he is backed up by Garrett Celek, who had 19 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
DEFENSE: Playing in the 3-4 alignment, the 49ers will look to Ian Williams at nose tackle while Arik Armstead and rookie DeForest Buckner (Oregon) will play the end spots. In reserve are Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial (2 1/2 sacks) and rookie Ronald Blair (Appalachian State).
The linebacking unit has Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch on the outside while NaVorro Bowman (2 1/2 sacks) and Gerald Hodges man the inside positions. Brooks and Lynch each registered 6 1/2 QB sacks to lead the team in that category.
Tramaine Brock (three interceptions) and either Jimmie Ward or Dontae Johnson will start at the cornerback spots. The safeties are Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea. Rookies Will Redmond (Mississippi State) and Rashard Robinson (LSU) are other possibilities for the cornerback spots.
OUTLOOK: Chip Kelly comes into the fold as the new Head Coach for the San Francisco 49ers after wearing out his welcome in year three in Philadelphia.
Kelly likes to run the high octane offense and that could fit Colin Kaepernick's style perfectly. Kaerpernick missed half the season a year ago and would do wonders for the team if he could get back to the way he was playing three years ago when the 49ers were a perennial power team.
Getting the running game back in high gear is a big priority after the 'Niners slipped to 21st in the NFL in rushing yardage. The offense ranked 31st overall (304 yards per game) and averaged just 15 points per game, which ranked at the bottom of the NFL.
The team is looking to Carlos Hyde to carry the bulk of that rushing load this season while the passing game re-tools with speedster Torrey Smith (20.1 yards per catch) leading the way for a group of wide receivers still feeling their way.
The defense wasn't much better, finishing 29th overall (387 yards allowed) while ranking 29th against the run (126 yards allowed) and 27th against the pass, giving up 261 yards per game. They also allowed 24.2 points per game.
That must improve and with the team using four of their first five drat picks on defense, it is obvious they are rebuilding and aiming to the future.
The playoffs are a distant memory as the team gears up for a new season and with the likes of Arizona and Seattle looming large in the NFC West, the 49ers would do well this season to challenge the Los Angeles Rams for third place.
Fearless forecast - 3-13 this year
2016 TEAM SCHEDULE
Week 1 - vs. Los Angeles
Week 2 - at Carolina
Week 3 - at Seattle
Week 4 - vs. Dallas
Week 5 - vs. Arizona
Week 6 - at Buffalo
Week 7 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 8 - BYE
Week 9 - vs. New Orleans
Week 10 - at Arizona
Week 11 - vs. New England
Week 12 - at Miami
Week 13 - at Chicago
Week 14 - vs. NY Jets
Week 15 - at Atlanta
Week 16 - at Los Angeles
Week 17 - vs. Seattle