2015 San Francisco 49ers: 4th NFC West (2014 record: 8-8)
Head Coach: Jim Tomsula
NFC West Division Odds: +1800
Super Bowl Champion Odds: +5000
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 6.5 (+130), Under 6.5 (-160)
Key Additions: Reggie Bush (RB), Torrey Smith (WR)
Key Losses: More than half of the starting defense, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore (RB)
The 49ers offseason can be summed up in one word; ugh. It seemed like another starter was either traded or retired every day for about a month straight at one point. Add to it the imploded relationship between Harbaugh and the front office, and the disaster that was the 2014 season looks to have sent the Niners spiraling into full rebuild mode just two years after reaching the NFC Championship game.
Unbelievably, San Francisco lost six starters from this unit in the offseason, and the replacements that were brought on board don’t even come close to the level that departed. On the line, draftee Arik Armstead and the regressing Darnell Dockett appear to be the front runners to start alongside the underwhelming Glenn Dorsey.
The linebacking corps will get NaVorro Bowman back, but one has to believe that his knee will never be the same after the gruesome injury he suffered to it. Corey Lemonier is going to be given one more shot; he’s been an annual disappointment. Aldon Smith returns as well, but one has to wonder how long he’ll be able to stay out of trouble. He’s saying and doing all of the right things in camp, so perhaps he’s finally grown up.
The secondary lost two starters of its own, and the leftovers struggled in coverage last season. If Smith can stay on the field and Lemonier can finally develop into a solid pass rusher, they’ll certainly help the secondary overcome their past struggles. **ADDENDUM: Alton Smith was released due to another DUI less than 10 hours after this was written.
The offense will have a slew of new faces as well, as veterans Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Mike Iupati have all moved on to greener pastures. Reggie Bush was signed to be a ‘replacement’ for Gore, but Bush has never been able to handle a full time role. He’ll share carries with the Carlos Hyde, who certainly won’t strike fear into opposing defenses.
The receiving corps is even worse off. Torrey Smith has always lacked consistency and Anquan Boldin will soon be 35 and possesses very little speed at this point in his career. And nobody knows what to expect from the enigma that is TE Vernon Davis. He regressed to a mere 26 catches for 245 yards last season and, at 31, might not return to his glory days.
The line will struggle without the dependable Iupati, leaving Joe Staley as the only talent on the squad. There could be a line of defenders in Colin Kaepernick’s grill, not a good omen for a young QB looking to rebound from a poor season. Losing Harbaugh will hurt him as well, as the former coach’s offense was tailored to Kaepernick’s skillset.
A brutal 2014 was followed by a brutal offseason. It stands to reason that the 2015 season will be even worse; and it will. The rest of the division will be battling for playoff berths while they trample on the Niners on the way there. We see no conceivable reason to think that this squad could win more than a half-dozen games IF they’re lucky. UNDER