The San Francisco 49ers fall from grace after firing Jim Harbaugh, who led the team to a Super Bowl and three NFC Championship Games in four years, was swift and painful. The team is hoping to get back on track this season, and hired Chip Kelly as their head coach. However, as the team approaches training camp, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Even with the team’s hiring of Kelly, they still have one of the worst NFL odds of making the playoffs.
The one thing the 49ers will need to be successful this season is for some of their rookies and veterans to step up this season, the question is which one of them will?
The 49ers were able to add a lot of talent to their team through the draft, but the team still has a lot of holes that need to be filled.
One of the top stories in the offseason was the team’s willingness to part with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Last season, Kaepernick really struggled, and head coach Jim Tomsula decided to bench him in favor of Blaine Gabbert.
While Gabbert looked much better than Kaepernick did under center last season, it was a surprising move that prompted the quarterback to ask for a trade. The Denver Broncos were the most interested team in Kaepernick, but the proposed trade could b=not be finalized because Kaepernick refused to take a pay cut.
Now, Kaepernick is back with a team that doesn’t want him and he doesn’t want to be a part of, so it will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation plays out this season.
One of the players the 49ers and their fans expect big things from this season is defensive end DeForest Buckner, who was the team’s first pick in the draft. Last season, the 49ers had one of the worst pass rushes in the game, and finished 29th in sacks, which won’t get things done for a defensive unit.
Chip Kelly and the 49ers are hoping Buckner can fill the void left by Justin Smith, who retired before the start of last season.
The 49ers are also expecting big things from Stanford guard Joshua Garnett, another one of their first round picks. Garnett is a very physical player and was the team captain at Stanford, so the 49ers are expecting him to fill the void left by the departure of Alex Boone, who left in free agency.
At the receiver position, the 49ers lost Anquan Boldin, who had been their best receiver for the past three seasons. However, the 49ers believe Torrie Smith is ready to become the top receiver on the team and they also drafted some promising rookies they believe can come in and make immediate contributions.
Another position where the 49ers need players to step up is the linebacker position, which was once the team’s biggest strength. With Patrick Willis retiring last season, the 49ers didn’t lose a step because Navarro Bowman returned from his injury and played very well. However, the team is still trying to figure out which players will line up next to Bowman at the other linebacker spots.