The San Francisco 49ers are not getting a lot of love this offseason, and given the roster questions it is not surprising. Chip Kelly is an upgrade over Jim Tomsula, but there are a lot of issues in the starting lineup. The 49ers could very well find answers, but people are generally playing it safe in their projections of what the team will do in 2016.
The latest comes from Pro Football Focus. On Monday, we looked at their roster rankings, which had the 49ers No. 32. They also put together projections for each conference, including records. They have projected the 49ers to finish 4-12, and dead last in the NFC. Considering their ranking of the 49ers roster, this is not surprising. They also have the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams at 4-12, with the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers right ahead of them at 5-11. Their AFC projections have the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns also at 4-12, so it's a five-way race for the top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Here's what they had to say about 49ers in their analysis section:
The 49ers had the second-worst record in the NFC last year, and followed that up by having one of the quietest offseasons. While DeForest Buckner should have an instant impact on the defensive line, losing players like Anquan Boldin and Alex Boone can’t help the offense. Unless Chip Kelly can get the best out of his players immediately, it will be a season of rebuilding in San Francisco.
I think it is definitely a season of re-building, but we also don't really know exactly what Chip Kelly will bring to the table. He is the ultimate x-factor this year. Yes there are questions elsewhere, particularly at quarterback, but Chip Kelly's influence on the offense is what will make or break this team in 2016. Make-or-break does not mean Super Bowl or bust, but it could be the difference between No. 1 pick awful, and at least respectable.
PFF projects out the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks as the top two teams. The remaining "playoff teams" in their standings would be, in order, the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys.
If you want, you can also check out their projections from last year. Their biggest NFC misses were Philadelphia (No. 3 in the conference), New York (No. 5), Detroit (No. 6) Dallas (No. 7), Arizona (No. 10), and Carolina (No. 11). I am not finding any follow-up from them on their misses, but I don't think many of us look back at some of the huge misses from last year. And yet, there's a certain entertainment element to seeing how far off you were! They did nail it though on the 49ers. They ranked them No. 15 in the conference, which turned out to be true. And they nailed this line in the analysis, "The biggest weak point on offense is the right side of the line, which consists of C Marcus Martin (38.5), RG Jordan Devey (36.9) and RT Erik Pears (43.5), which will make things very difficult for their run game and pass game." Yep, nailed it.