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After appearing in the the NFC Championship Game 3 seasons in a row (2011-2013), it seemed as if the sky was the limit for Colin Kaepernick and company moving forward. However, they were a borderline hot mess in 2014, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs, before making the transition from hot mess to COMPLETE DUMPSTER FIRE in 2015, going 5-11 under the guidance of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula (VERY suspect coaching hire).
Since then, the 49ers management has tried their best to ensure improvement in 2016. They made a much needed coaching change, bringing in the mastermind (and more than often absolute maniac) in head coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly is often stubborn in his coaching style, which could in fact favour San Fran’s offence, as he is known to take mediocre QBs (similar to the 49ers’ Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert) and turn them into bonafide starters. Both Kaepernick and Gabbert are mobile QBs, and could be worth an eventual pick-up/spot-start when and if they settle into their new coach’s offence.
RB Carlos Hyde has proven to be a powerful runner out of the backfield at times throughout his short NFL career (case and point, 2015 Week 1 vs. the Vikings, where Hyde WENT OFF for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns). However, following this breakout performance, Hyde was never the same again as he battled a foot injury all season, which eventually brought his year to an end after just 7 games played. The potential makes Hyde a middle of the pack RB, and warrants him of a mid-range draft pick.
WR Torrey Smith was a model of consistency throughout his NFL career, until last year, where he saw career lows in both receiving yards (663) and touchdowns (4). However, most of that blame can be placed upon the Niners’ inconsistent signal callers. While those same QBs are still going to be calling the shots this year, a Chip Kelly run offence could prove more favourable for Smith, who should at least approve upon those career lows from a year ago and prove to be worth a late-round pick.
Beyond Smith, San Fran does not have many receiving options for whoever wins their QB job. WR Bruce Ellington and TE Vance McDonald will see a significant increase in targets, but currently aren’t worth consideration in most leagues.
K Phil Dawson isn’t worth a pick-up unless the Niners’ offence is able to pick it up, and neither is their D/ST. That being said, we know Chip Kelly is wild, and has been known to be a defensive mastermind at times, so keep an eye on the Niners’ D/ST going forward.
QB Colin Kaepernick; QB Blaine Gabbert; RB Carlos Hyde; WR Torrey Smith