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ESPN offers three 49ers predictions for 2016

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One of the three is a bit surprising, but even that might not be a complete shock.

The NFL kicks off the 2016 regular season exactly 100 days from today, and so ESPN is here with 100 predictions for the coming season. They included three predictions specific to the San Francisco 49ers, covering the quarterback and running back position.

QB training camp reps

John Clayton started by predicting Blaine Gabbert would get most of the first team reps in training camp. Colin Kaepernick is rehabbing his shoulder, knee and thumb injuries, with speculation that he will be medically cleared sometime soon. In the meantime, Gabbert gets all the first team reps. Even if Kaepernick is cleared in the next couple weeks, I would be surprised if it was not Gabbert taking first team reps to start training camp. At the same time, I could see some rotation happening fairly early on, particularly in preseason games.

QB regular season snaps

Field Yates had the next 49ers prediction. He acknowledged that even with Gabbert potentially getting first team reps in camp, the situation is unsettled. He had this intriguing prediction:

But this is far from a settled QB situation in San Fran, so I'm betting the 49ers will start three different quarterbacks at some point this season. Gabbert, Kaepernick and Jeff Driskel will all get time for Chip Kelly.

I don't think anybody would be surprised to see both Gabbert and Kaepernick get playing time this fall, but Jeff Driskel? Crazy things happen at the quarterback position, so I don't think we can say it's impossible. And considering the question marks surrounding both Gabbert and Kap, I suppose it would not be the most shocking development of the season. But it would definitely be a surprise.

Carlos Hyde preseason snaps

Paul Gutierrez (no longer covering the 49ers regularly, they're searching for a new 49ers blogger) had the final prediction, and it was not really a surprising one. Gutierrez predicted the 49ers will put Carlos Hyde "in protective bubble wrap this preseason and [he will] see little, if any, of the field."

Gutierrez talked about the 49ers 2015 season going into a tailspin after Hyde's foot injury. I don't know if we can say with certainty as the offensive line was a train wreck independent of Carlos Hyde's injury. But losing Hyde was definitely an issue. And it would not be the first time a 49ers running back was limited in preseason action. In 2014, Frank Gore had three carries the entire preseason. Last season, Hyde had 13 carries. He had five snaps in the preseason opener, 15 in the second preseason game, nine in the third (6 offense, 3 special teams), and none in the fourth game. Will Chip Kelly want to see a bit more in the preseason, or will he be willing to sacrifice them to avoid potential injury risk?