It's been a topsy-turvy offseason for the San Francisco 49ers so far, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to be optimistic about when the 2015 NFL regular season gets going just over five months from now. Here's three 49ers players we're confident will break out in a big way for new head coach Jim Tomsula.
WR Quinton Patton
Patton has appeared in a total of just 10 games over his first two seasons by the Bay, thanks to a foot injury in 2013 and an absolute logjam on the wide receiving depth chart in 2014. Now, with Stevie Johnson gone and an air of uncertainty surrounding free agents Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd, the time is now for Patton to establish himself as a viable rotation piece behind recent signings Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson. Expect a motivated Patton to put on the best of shows in camp, capturing the #3 WR role in what's likely a make-or-break year for him.
LB Corey Lemonier
The underrated Dan Skuta's gone, providing an opportunity for Lemonier to put his underwhelming 2014 in the rearview and showcase the skill set that prompted S.F. to pick him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. A former first-team SEC standout with Auburn, Lemonier has the motor and the innate quickness off his first step to wreak havoc at the NFL level. He'll have the opportunity to showcase that fully for a 49ers defense going through an undeniable transitional phase.
QB Colin Kaepernick
Saying that Kap is primed for a break out may be unfair in one respect, knowing the talent he possesses and how great he's been at the peak of his powers. However, his critics were given ammunition to work with during an uneven 2014 campaign, with many chirping that the team's decision to extend him before last season will result in disaster. Don't buy the hype. Kaepernick is too gifted, too stubborn, and too motivated to allow regression to snowball. His arsenal of skill-position weapons might have changed, but that won't matter when the man who set the league on fire in 2012-13 returns, bringing with him some of the devil-may-care attitude that made his rise possible.
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