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What will it take for the 49ers to be playoff contenders in 2015?

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The San Francisco 49ers have talent on their roster, but what specifically will it take for them to contend in 2015? The answer might be fairly simple.

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The San Francisco 49ers enter the 2015 season with a lot of people suggesting they were in for a further regression from last season. The national view, and that of plenty of 49ers fans, is that the losses of Jim Harbaugh, Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and others would significantly hurt the team's chances in 2015.

It is certainly possible the team struggles. We don't know enough about the coaching staff to say anything with certainty. The team did lose key contributors, and while many of them were on the wrong side of 30, they were still important cogs in recent years.

The question now is what will it take for this team to be a contender in 2015. Matt Maiocco conducted a chat recently, and one of the questions he got was what it would take for the 49ers to be a championship contender in 2015. Here is what Matt said:

1) Avoid injuries to key players; 2) Big up-tick in production from Colin Kaepernick; 3) A strong pass rush.

I don't think anybody would suggest those are not three of the most important things. Injuries ravaged the team last year. The quarterback position is incredibly important in this day and age, and Kap has plenty of room to improve. And the 49ers secondary has been built in recent years behind a strong pass rush. Without a notable shutdown corner at this point, a strong pass rush is important for the secondary.

Are there other things we can point to for the 49ers to be in the playoff mix? Obviously a strong performance from the coaching staff is important, but we really can't measure that in the same manner as the three things Maiocco listed in the chat. Are there other things we can measure that you would include, or do these three cover the most important?