The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a very challenging offseason.
The team parted ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh, now at University of Michigan, and 20 players, which included four starters on offense and six defensive starters.
The' Harbaugh Era' is over and the team has embraced new head coach Jim Tomsula for the upcoming season.
The 49ers ownership and general manager Trent Balke will definitely be under scrutiny if the wins do not come sooner rather than later, but either way there are some upsides to look forward for the 49er faithful.
No team can win without a decent quarterback and the 49ers have one in Turlock's own Colin Kaepernick.
After a less than stellar season in 2014, especially in the fourth quarter, Kap decided to pick the brain of Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner during the offseason with hopes of improving his abilities.
“I think I made a lot of strides in a lot of different areas because it's important to get comfortable with the offense, get comfortable with the weapons and get comfortable with the entire package,” he said. “All of that, we have been working on to get ready for the season.”
Adding Torrey Smith to play alongside his former Raven teammate Anquan Boldin looks like it will provide some necessary weapons that Kap was in need of.
Things certainly changed for the offense as a whole, losing Frank Gore, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis on offense and adding new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst to the mix. Tomsula, along with his staff, decided on embracing the 'no huddle offense' which is simple, you don't huddle.
“Heading into the offseason there were things that as an offense we all wanted to change and get faster and make things quicker and excite things,” Kap said about the no-huddle offense.
The team also added versatile player Reggie Bush to the mix and welcomed back Kendall Hunter along with Carlos Hyde who looks to be the main man from the backfield. The Niners also added former rugby player Jarryd Hayne and rookie Mike Davis to the back, which makes the depth very solid for a team that lost a potential future Hall of Famer in Gore.
How the offensive line hold up to allow the progression of the running backs is still in question.
Last year the 49er offense was responsible for the most penalties on the team with delay of games (8), false starts (14) and offensive holding penalties (23), all very uncharacteristic for the 49ers of recent years.
Tomsula is hoping to change the team's overall performance by working collaboratively.
“We are incorporating lots of things; we just want everybody being on the same page,” said Tomsula. “Our coaching staff puts the game plan together, but we always get the input of the players to answer all the whys, then everybody is more comfortable that way.”
Former NFL head coach Eric Mangini takes over as the defensive coordinator for a team that returns only two players from the front-seven after the vacancy of Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis to name a few.
With Willis gone, the defense has a huge gap left at the interior linebacker position after losing what looked like the best inside linebacker in 49er history and without question the best inside linebacker for the past eight seasons.
Whether NaVorro Bowman will be as effective as he once was is a big mystery, but it looks like Michael Wilhoite should start along with multiple possibilities like Desmond Bishop, Nick Moody, Shayne Skov or Phillip Wheeler.
One of the biggest inconsistencies last season was the offensive line and the injuries that came along with their poor play. Hopefully, Joe Staley and Alex Boone can lead the way for what was a handicapped line a year prior.
There is no doubt that the defensive line is one of the deeper positions for the 49ers.
With the addition of rookie Arik Armstead, the 20-year-old, 6-foot-7 looks like he could potentially be the next Calais Campbell. Veteran Darnell Dockett is a key addition as the team returns Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial and Tony Jerod-Eddie, all run stoppers.
Bottom line is that the club should be strong on both lines and Kap must step up in order to win and the pieces are there. If the 49ers compete for a playoff spot then Tomsula and Balke will deserve to be coach and executive of the year, respectively, but it will be a long haul and a grind in the NFC West.
The safety tandem of Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea provide some veteran experience, although they each return after a gruesome year.
“You are seeing that all these guys are competing. It's a hard-working group, a talented group," said Tomsula.
The 49ers first regular season contest will be at home when they host the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 14.