The San Francisco 49ers kick off their 2015 season on Monday Night Football, following an offseason of transition and occasional turmoil (in case you forgot). Plenty of teams have had significant turnover, but the number of starters departing has raised questions on both sides of the ball. There are reasons to be optimistic in certain areas, and reasons to be skeptical in others. Whatever the case, we'll start to finally get some firm answers when the 49ers face the Vikings.
I have been asked numerous times to give a prediction for the 49ers final record this season. My general response is that they could go 10-6 and it would not surprise me, or they could go 6-10 and it would not surprise me. I don't see a 2- or 3-win season, and I don't see a 13- or 14-win season. However, this team could do a lot of things this season, and I don't think it would stun me.
The reason for that is the questions. People can say, a given position will be a strength, or that same position will be a problem, and I could find reasons to agree with both opinions. And so, rather than try and actually predict answers, I wanted to come up with all the questions facing this team in 2015.
This is something that could be fun to hold on to and look back during the season, and then after the season. So, feel free to list out your questions, and I'll add them to the list so we have a comprehensive look at things. I'm going to break them up by position for organizational purposes. Some are simple yes/no questions, but when we go back and assess them, we will include some why for the yes or no responses. If you have questions you want to include, drop them in the comments.
1. What will we see of Colin Kaepernick's mechanics following an offseason with Kurt Warner? How consistent will these adjustments be in game action?
2. How much read option will we see?
1. Will Hyde handle a Gore-like workload, or will we see a significant rotation?
2. Will Reggie Bush remain healthy?
3. Will we actually see any kind of frequent usage of passes to the running backs?
4. Will Jarryd Hayne see any action as a running back?
5. What role will Mike Davis have in his rookie season?
6. Will Bruce Miller face a suspension?
7. Will any of the tight ends be used in a fullback role?
1. Is Vernon Davis finished, or was last year an aberration?
2. Will Vance McDonald develop in the passing game?
3. How will Blake Bell be used?
1. How will the Colin Kaepernick-Torrey Smith connection look?
2. Does Anquan Boldin have another year in him?
3. Who will emerge as the third receiver?
4. What kind of role will Bruce Ellington have?
5. Will Quinton Patton emerge as a productive receiver?
6. How many times will DeAndrew White be active during his rookie season?
1. How will the right side of the line shake out from center to right tackle (pretty broad, but covers most of the significant questions)?
2. Will Daniel Kilgore make it back this season following the first six weeks of time on the PUP list?
1. How will Tank Carradine perform in his first full season of potentially significant playing time?
2. Who will emerge as the second nickel defensive tackle with Tank?
3. Can Ian Williams stay healthy?
4. What impact will Arik Armstead have as a rookie?
5. What kind of role will Mike Purcell have?
1. Does Ahmad Brooks stay on the roster the entire season?
2. After an offseason that included back surgery, how will Aaron Lynch perform in his second season?
3. What kind of role does Eli Harold develop as a rookie?
4. Does Corey Lemonier do more than just special teams?
1. How does NaVorro Bowman look in returning to full-time action?
2. How does Michael Wilhoite handle the coverage part of ILB work?
3. Does Shayne Skov work in a rotation at ILB, or is he an emergency sub and primarily a special teams player?
4. Is Nick Bellore exclusively a special teams player?
1. Who will emerge opposite Tramaine Brock in the starting lineup?
2. Who will be the nickel and dime backs?
3. Will we see more rotation at cornerback, or set starters and nickel/dime guys?
4. Will Brock remain healthy?
1. Will Eric Reid remain healthy?
2. What kind of role will Jimmie Ward have in year two? How will his foot hold up?
3. Will Jaquiski Tartt play some of that nickel and dime linebacker role we saw in the preseason?
4. Will L.J. McCray serve as more than just a special teams player?
1. Who will be the kick and punt returners?
2. How will Bradley Pinion's punting compare to that of Andy Lee?
3. Will we see Pinion handling kickoffs or long field goals at any point?
1. Does the improvement in clock management during the preseason carry over to the regular season?
2. How does Jim Tomsula handle challenges and timeouts?
3. Does a potentially complicated defense slow down the reaction time of the players?
4. How much blitzing do we see from the defense?
5. Do we see an improvement in offensive play-calling that avoids what seemed a little overly complicated at times last season?