Last year: 12-4, second place in NFC West, lost in NFC Championship
Acquisitions: Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Blaine Gabbert, Chris Cook
Departures: Carlos Rogers, Colt McCoy, Donte Whitner, Tarell Brown
Vegas 2014 win total over/under: 10.5 wins
Five exciting new features in Levi’s Stadium:
— Lil’ Kaepernick kids tattooing stations.
— Statue of Ronnie Lott’s severed finger.
— Ample video screens to update fans on when Mike Florio feels like bullshitting that Jim Harbaugh almost got traded to the Browns.
— Stadium utilizes smart design to divide fans into two sections: “wine and cheese crowd” and “you’re getting stabbed”.
— Knives that serve as Wifi hot spots.
Fan forecast by Lindsey Adler:
We’re weeks away from what could be the most stressful Niners season in like, a good chunk of history. Here’s the thing about the 2014 Niners: They have an incredible arsenal of talent from coaches on down, but many of those key players are aging out of their prime and their rookie successors are literally (not literally) exploding on the practice field. It’s going to be a long, tough season in the even more potent NFC West, and the Niners have to make a hasty go at it with what is shaping up to be a very depleted roster. Hope is not lost, and even though the season might be emotionally torturous for fans, the Niners will still be one of the most entertaining teams in the league. Hopefully the pressure cooker off-season will cause them to explode on the field. If there’s any team that has something to prove, it’s the San Francisco 49ers.
The fear is that the veteran mainstays – Gore, Davis, and Willis – the guys who have been with this damn team through ups and downs, and approximately 500 offensive coordinators, are no longer producing the way when they were young. But Frank Gore is not dead yet, so let’s stop acting like he is some fragile, under-producing player. His yardage was slightly down last season, but his lack of production is largely in part of offensive coordinator, who can’t seem to fashion a productive, varied offense, despite having the best tools in the game. Vernon stepped up big time last season, really killing it in that tight-end-in-name-only role. He’s losing his hair, sure, but he’s not losing his spryness, and we can probably attribute that to all the Jamba Juice he’s been drinking, or something. Willis missed a couple tackles last season, sure, but who cares? He is the team anchor in my opinion, bringing consistency and wisdom to a defense that so badly needs it. Look, all this is to say: Stop panicking about the old guys, we’ve got bigger, younger problems.
Though internal pressures are high due to depleted depth on both sides of the game, the real barrier to that sixth ring lies in the NFC West. The Seahawks are in the fanbase’s head with their pride and success, but who is to say the players are as affected as we are? Then there are the Rams and the Cardinals. The Cards burst out of oblivion last season, making a late-season push to threaten the Niners. The Rams will have the type of defense the Niners showcased in 2011-2013: A brick wall. Only a fool would dare predict the future of this division, beyond addressing the inevitable bloodbath.
Of course, as the Niners prepare to build a team for the future, they leave another past behind: Candlestick is dead, long live Candlestick. Much has been said about the functionality of Levi’s Stadium, about the quality of the wi-fi and food choices, about the traffic and the drama of leaving San Francisco proper. But while we’re thinking about ourselves, and how fans will fare in new park, the team must adjust to a new field. It’ll be great for team morale, I think, to have a proper infrastructure for home games, but the advantage will have an asterisk for at least a bit. Surely this has been considered by folks more influential than myself, but I do worry about the culture shock, so to say. But the team will want to prove themselves more than ever in their shiny new house that Jed built. Move the chains of history, guys, and don’t look back.