Team Profile San Francisco 49ers by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Abandon Ship! Abandon Ship! Former 49ers Jim Harbaugh is a winning coach, but for what ever reasons, he and management just couldn’t get along. He’s gone and players are bolting for other teams like rats on a sinking vessel. (Think we’ll ever get all the sordid details?) It’s not very often that someone leads a team to a Super Bowl, and then is out of the NFL two years later. Granted, he was paid a treasure chest full of money to go to the University of Michigan, but to leave the pros? San Francisco decided to stay in-house to replace Harbaugh and promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Tomsula’s only other head coaching experience was for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in the 2006 season.
2015 Team Outlook– With all that’s going on with the 49ers right now, there is very little chance that they are going to be in contention for the NFC West title in 2015. They will be lucky just to stay competitive this season. Seattle and Arizona with be in the thick of it, and I like the team St. Louis is building. I predict Seattle wins the division again, with Arizona as a close 2nd. St. Louis will end in 3rd place and San Francisco in the division basement…and lucky if they win 6 games.
2015 Team Outlook–
QB– Speaking at his introductory press conference, new 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he’s “excited” about coaching Colin Kaepernick. There are some around the league that think if the 49ers are in re-building mode, then they should go all out, and even trade Colin Kaepernick for enough future draft picks that all the holes can be filled for San Francisco. Kaepernick is a capable quarterback however, and teams like Cleveland know just how hard filling that hole is. It’s unlikely he’s going anywhere. Kaepernick’s 2014 season was not as successful as compared to his 2013, but it wasn’t like an “RG3 drop off”. He had 4100 yards from scrimmage, 20 TDs and 10 INTS in 2014 vs 3718 yards from scrimmage, 25 TDs and 8 INTs in 2013.
RBs– I remember watching Emmitt Smith run for the Arizona Cardinals for 2 seasons at the end of his career, and I remember not liking it. There are just some players that are a piece of team’s DNA, and they should retire where they started. WR Reggie Wayne and WR Andre Johnson are some other examples, as is RB Frank Gore. One of the toughest guys ever to suit up, Frank Gore started his career with the 49ers in 2005, but he won’t finish there. Originally said to be joining the Philadelphia Eagles, but he signed with Indianapolis which gives the Colts the running game that they needed last year. The 49ers will be OK without Gore however, having drafted a talented RB in the 2nd round last year in Carlos Hyde. He is a Gore-ish kind of back that is big and physical and can handle a lot of carries. The Niners also have Kendall Hunter that they chose in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. UPDATE: 49ers signed RB Reggie Bush to a 1-yr contract ( don’t expect much or a renewed contract in 2016)
WRs– Last season the 49ers receiving corps consisted of WRs Anquin Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Kassim Osgood. If you take a look at their current roster, you won’t see 4 of the 5 that I just mentioned. Boldin is the only one still under contract and he is owed $6 million in 2015 salary plus bonuses. San Francisco will pay him because he was their #1 WR in 2014 and they need him back. 49ers re-signed WR Kassim Osgood but Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd are not expected to re-sign. WR Stevie Johnson was released. The 49ers took a flier on former Vikings WR Jerome Simpson who has been a disappointed both on the field and off. The 49ers bigger acquisition so far is the signing of former Raven WR Torrey Smith. Smith will be the deep threat the Niners have been missing. The 49ers receiving corps transformation has just begun.
TEs– In 2013, Vernon Davis was the #2 tight end in the NFL, scoring 13 TDs. In 2014, Davis completely disappeared from the 49er offense, as he was targeted only once in the red zone. He scored only 2 TDs all season. He dropped all the way down to NFL’s #36 TE last season having only 245 receiving yards. The #2 TE in SF is Derek Carrier who isn’t a weapon, only having 105 receiving yards. Whatever is going on between Kaepernick and Davis, it’s not good, and won’t get better. Like many 49ers, Davis needs a change of scenery.
K– K Phil Dawson is still working on the two-year contract that he signed in March of 2014. Although he will turned 40 this year, Dawson will likely remain a component of the 49ers’ offense that is unraveling. Dawson hit 25 of 31 field goals last season, down from his 32-of-36 FGs in 2013.
DEF– The San Francisco defense ranked #13 in 2014. Patrick Willis, one of the NFL’s best overall players, has announced his retirement. They have three cornerbacks heading for free agency, so reinforcements must come in. The 49ers have started by signing former Cardinal DE Darnell Dockett to a two-year, $7.5 million contract. Next, the 49ers are hoping to get players like CB Jimmie Ward and ILB Chris Borland back (both placed on IR in 2014) but look for the 49ers to get more help in April’s NFL Draft and from free agency. UPDATE: 49ers hire DC Eric Mangini
2014 San Francisco Fantasy Surprises– TE Vernon Davis’ decline from #2 TE in the NFL (2013) to #36 in the NFL (2014) was a shocker. That isn’t a bump in the road, that’s driving off a cliff. I’m always surprised how high WR Michael Crabtree gets selected in fantasy drafts. He’s only had one 1000+ season, and is a constant disappointment that I don’t want to draft. His best game in 2014 was in Week 11 vs the Giants. 3 catches for 85 yards and 1 TD.
2015 Free Agents that San Francisco Needs to Address– QB Josh Johnson- RB Frank Gore (signed with Indianapolis)- WR Michael Crabtree- WR Brandon Lloyd- WR Kassim Osgood- G Mike Iupati (signed with Arizona)- OLB Dan Skuta– CB Chris Cook (resigned)- CB Perrish Cox (signed with Tennessee)- CB Chris Culliver(signed w/ Washington)
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of San Francisco are on their defense, particularly at cornerback and shoring up their O-Line. Perrish Cox & Chris Culliver are entering free agency so SF will likely have to replace them (CB), they have filled some spots on offense, but there is some great talent in April’s draft class so the Niners will look at getting new weapons for QB Kaepernick (WR & TE), and SF needs depth on their O-Line (OG). San Francisco’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- SAN FRANCISCO’S DRAFT
Did You Know– There are 10 current head coaches that are from branches off the coaching tree started by the West Coast guru Bill Walsh? At least 7 others are coordinators in the NFL ( and most of them were head coaches at one time in the NFL as well.)
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team Home Page: www.49ers.com