The San Francisco 49ers scuffled in Jim Tomsula's first and only season as head coach, finishing with a 5-11 record before replacing Tomsula with former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. It's a new era by The Bay and we're feeling VERY optimistic about the 49ers' chances going forward - after all, it's a league of parity, right? Here's our list of three reasons why the 49ers will win the NFC West and make the playoffs this season:
3) Carlos Hyde's breakout season
Remember when Carlos Hyde was leading the league in rushing before lackluster playcalling and nagging injuries slowed him down and ultimately cut his season short? Well, Hyde's back and 100 percent healthy - and he's the perfect weapon in Kelly's offense. It's very similar to what Hyde excelled under at Ohio State, using his quickness to shift from running east-west to running downhill in the blink of an eye - then using his 235-pound frame to break through the line and find daylight.
Hyde ran for 2,491 yards and 31 touchdowns in that system over a two-year stretch at Ohio State. Expect similar results from Hyde in 2016.
2) Retooled Defense
The 49ers have plenty of depth to work with the secondary and some front-seven standouts like Arik Armstead, Ian Williams and Aaron Lynch. San Francisco's defense was gutted by personnel turnover and inconsistent play this past season, but there's enough talent here to build a foundation that will be serviceable at worst.
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1) Chip Kelly/Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick is one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL, and Chip Kelly is the right coach and the right time to make the most of his skill set. With Kelly around, Kaep is going to be able to flash his wheels to both extend passing plays and make things happen as a runner. People may have forgotten how good Kaepernick can be, but they'll remember next season when Kelly is using him to the very best of his abilities. Expect Kaep to turn back into the guy who gave defenses headaches and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed