By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
(Full disclosure, I was born & raised in Northern California and raised a 49ers fan.)
The San Francisco 49ers could be one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2015. They have pretty much blown up a team that was in the Super Bowl three seasons ago and replaced just about everything but the janitorial staff (they even traded the All Pro punter). It could be worse but not by much.
Jim Tomsula is the new 49ers Head Coach. While he is a well respected defensive line coach, he has never been a coordinator or a head coach at the NFL level. He replaces Jim Harbaugh who while successful (44-19-1 with three NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance) was also abrasive. So he is out and the player friendly Tomsula is in.
Somewhere after Harbaugh’s departure over 16 players from the 2014 team moved on. This included the retirement of three main pieces to the defense, chief among them was future Hall of Fame linebacker Patrick Willis. His replacement Chris Borland retired shortly there after and then All Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith. This preseason rising star defensive end Aldon Smith was released after yet another DUI arrest, All Pro punter Andy Lee was traded and the teams all time leading rusher Frank Gore was allowed to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.
The most notable addition is someone who has never played a down of collegiate or professional football. Jarryd Hayne was NRL Superstar in Australia (that’s rugby for those of you keeping track at home) who played his first pro football game in the 49ers preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Hayne impressed but it’s still one game and we didn’t even see if he could pick up a blitzing linebacker.
Then there is the quarterback position. If 49ers have pinned there hopes on Colin Kapernick. If he doesn’t turn the corner and become a top line NFL signal caller than it could be a long couple of years for the 49er Faithful.
All these questions can be traced back to GM Trent Baalke. We criticized his strategy during the draft and firmly believe that if the 49ers finish in the NFL West basement then blame falls squarely on his shoulders.
And let’s not even talk about the field they play on. It’s possible the worst in all of sports.
Time will tell if the moves the 49ers made will pan out. Consensus is that they will not and the 49ers will be worse than the Oakland Raiders. If that happens you can probably expect a long road to recovery with a new GM at the helm.