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USA Today NFL predictions have 49ers with sub-par record

The McDonald's of newspapers released their 2015 predictions. They see the 49ers with a serious slip.

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Most national folks are fairly down on the San Francisco 49ers, with the offseason of change influencing fairly pessimistic opinions. USA Today is the latest to join the mix in their 2015 predictions. The site put together a prediction of every team's regular season record, and then a full playoff projection. The author predicts a 5-11 record for the 49ers, with the following explanation:

A schedule that includes the AFC North and NFC North doesn't look particularly forgiving to a team that lost so many key vets to retirement and is adjusting to regime change as well.

They do face a lot of tough opponents, and there are significant questions as the team prepares for 2015. I don't know if those questions will be answered, but I am not ready to write things off just quite yet. I see the offensive line being the biggest question for now on the offensive side of the ball. Yes, we need to see Colin Kaepernick make some strides sooner rather than later, but given what we've heard thus far through three training camp practices, that offensive line is a big question.

On the defensive side of the ball, we have heard a lot of positives. The pass rush seems intriguing, although we also don't know how much of that is on the 49ers offensive line. The two big questions are how the young guys will develop once the regular season gets here, and what kind of scheming will we see from Eric Mangini. We've gotten used to Vic Fangio's defense the last four years. There is some concern about potential over-thinking of the defense Mangini installs. How the 49ers defense handles that installation will be something to track.

For the NFC West as a whole, the author appears to buy into Jeff Fisher hook, line and sinker:

1. Seattle Seahawks: 12-4
2. St. Louis Rams: 10-6
3. Arizona Cardinals: 9-7
4. San Francisco 49ers: 5-11

And so, I present a basic poll. Will the 49ers finishing with more or less than 8.5 wins?