3rd Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: San Francisco 49ers

Next up for the NFC West in our previews of all 32 NFL teams is the San Francisco 49ers, who finished in third place in the division last season.

The 49ers are in a down period, which seemingly hit rock bottom last season with a 5-11 record — or did it? They brought in head coach Chip Kelly to try to right the ship, but that may be hard to do with their roster. The quarterback position featured a battle between QBs Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick to get the starting job, with Gabbert eventually landing the gig — something that would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago. Gabbert eventually supplanted Kaepernick as the starter during last season, and that will continue in the 2016 campaign.

Gabbert and Kaepernick each started eight games last season, with Gabbert putting up better numbers. He threw for 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. Kaepernick threw for 1,615 yards and 6 touchdowns, with 5 interceptions. WR Torrey Smith caught just 33 receptions last season for 663 yards and 4 touchdowns while WR Quinton Patton added 30 catches for 394 yards and 1 touchdown. TE Vance McDonald caught 30 balls for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns. RB Carlos Hyde was the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 115 times for 470 and 3 touchdowns in seven games. In six games, RB Shaun Draughn had 76 carries for 263 yards and 1 touchdown. The 49ers didn’t get much out of the offense and the defense also struggled, allowing opponents to score 387 points and grabbing only 9 interceptions from opposing quarterbacks, tied for third fewest in the league.

It’s not going to be a good season for the 49ers. Gabbert’s career numbers shouldn’t give the team much confidence that he’ll be a viable starter, and with Kaepernick seemingly on the outs with the 49ers, the other quarterbacks on the roster, Thad Lewis and Jeff Driskel, also shouldn’t be expected to give much production if they’re called upon to play; Lewis is a journeyman and Driskel is a rookie who was selected in the sixth round of the draft. Smith is a fine receiver, but none of the other receivers have had much success in the league. HYde is really the only bright spot on the team, and that won’t be enough to win many games for the team.

Looking at the schedule, the 49ers start their season with a home game against the Rams in the second game of the Monday night doubleheader. They then hit the road for back-to-back games against two of the best teams in the conference — the Panthers in Week 2 and the Seahawks in Week 3. They then host the Cardinals in the Thursday night game in Week 5. The 49ers get their bye in Week 8, then host the Saints the following week. They visit the Cardinals in Week 10 before hosting the Patriots in Week 11. The 49ers end their season at the Rams in Week 16, then hosting the Seahawks in Week 17. The 49ers could be the worst team in the league this season, possibly winning just a couple games.

Source: http://www.49ers.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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