The San Francisco 49ers have entered a dead period, with four weeks left until the team reports for training camp. Since we know the schedule, and most 90-man rosters are just about set, now seems like a good time to start previewing each of the 49ers opponents heading into training camp. With the help of the other 31 SB Nation blogs, we’ve come up with preview content breaking down where things stand for each team on a variety of issues. We’ve got a template looking at key additions and departures, big storylines and under-the-radar storylines heading into camp, and injuries to consider.
We’re going to run down the schedule, but I will be saving the divisional opponents for the end. We started with the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, and today we move on to the 49ers Week 6 opponent, the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers travel to Buffalo, three seasons removed from a 45-3 thumping of the Bills at Candlestick.
Buffalo finished the 2015 season with an 8-8 record, a game worse than 2014. That’s notable because they brought in Rex Ryan as head coach, to much fanfare. Tyrod Taylor emerged with a huge breakout season, throwing for 3,035 yards and and a 20/6 TD/INT ratio. How he follows that up in 2016 is a huge question for the Bills. The other is what to make of their defense. Rex Ryan is a noted defensive mind, but they ranked No. 24 last season. They added Shaq Lawson, among others, but he will be unavailable due to injury, so questions will continue to swirl around the defense.
Here is what our friends at Buffalo Rumblings had to say about their Buffalo Bills.
Notable free agent additions
CB Sterling Moore, S Robert Blanton, LB Zach Brown, DL Leger Douzable
Notable free agent departures
DE Mario Williams, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Leodis McKelvin
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies
DE / OLB Shaq Lawson (1st rd): It’s believe that he’ll miss first part of the season with shoulder injury. Will likely be a hybrid edge defender in Rex Ryan’s defense.
LB Reggie Ragland (2nd rd): Expected to be one of the team’s starting inside linebackers.
DL Adolphus Washington (3rd rd): Should fit in as rotational defensive linemen in a variety of spots.
Biggest offseason addition
Either Shaq Lawson or Reggie Ragland. Both filled major needs on Buffalo’s defense that underwhelmed in 2015 and will be key members of that side of the ball as rookies.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp
Defensive improvement. As alluded to, Rex Ryan didn’t have the greatest impact on the Bills defense a season ago. With some noteworthy departures and additions, how the defense performs is what everyone will be talking about during Bills training camp.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp
Battle for the No. 3 WR spot. Sammy Watkins is nursing a broken foot, and Robert Woods is the only decent wideout behind him. Guys (realistically) battling for this gig - Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little, Greg Salas, Leonard Hankerson, Walt Powell and rookie Kolby Listenbee
Notable injuries heading into training camp
Sammy Watkins (foot), Shaq Lawson (shoulder)