49ers Nearing Important Draft for Franchise Build
With a muddled quarterback situation, a weak set of linebackers and a wide receiver group that leaves a lot to be desired, the 49ers are in a challenging situation.
The team has seen its win total drop from 12 in 2013 to 8 in 2014, then to 5 last season.
When the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Chip Kelly in late December, it didn’t take long for the Niners to reach out and give Kelly another shot despite his performance in Philadelphia.
Now, with Kelly in place of the one-and-done Jim Tomsula, the question of who will be taking snaps under center on opening day is brought front and center.
Veteran Colin Kaepernick, who led the Niners to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC championship in 2013 before he began to struggle, eventually lost his starting job to fifth-year pro Blaine Gabbert, who didn’t fare much better, turning the ball over 11 times in the 8 games he started. Now, Kaepernick may go to the Broncos. The 49ers and the Broncos have an agreement in theory, but Kaepernick must first approve of a restructured deal in Denver.
Further complicating things, the upcoming 49er draft class offers a relatively unheralded list of quarterbacks featuring North Dakota’s Carson Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff, Memphis product Paxton Lynch and Michigan’s Connor Cook.
Goff was graded at a 6.56 out of 10 by NFL.com, thus projecting him as a “good NFL starter with Pro Bowl potential.” In his last season at Cal, Goff was named first-team All-Pac-12, setting conference records in both passing yards (4,719) and touchdowns (43) in the process. NFL.com ranks him as the top QB in this year’s draft. If he slips past Cleveland (who recently acquired RGIII) in the number two draft slot, the 49ers may well give the Cal-product a call.
Though the starting quarterback role presents the biggest question mark for the team that ranked last in points per game, second-to-last in yards per game, and threw for the fourth-fewest yards per game last season, it’s hardly the only one.
One of the larger needs for San Francisco entering the 2015-2016 offseason was the offensive line. The Niners addressed that in part when they signed guard Zane Beatles in late March, hoping Beatles would help the offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked 27th last season. The potential return of Anthony Davis, who took a year off to ease the wear and tear on his body, may prove to be an immediate boost to the 49ers o-line issues.
Coming off of three stellar postseason seasons, the 49ers have fallen off monumentally in the past two years. Now, coming off of a 5-11 season with a new head coach and a question mark at quarterback, fans have turned towards the NFL draft to see in what direction the Niners and Chip Kelly are headed.