It’s now September, and you know what that means: the beginning of the 2015 NFL season. We here at Central Valley Volkswagen, one of the premier dealers of new and used cars in Modesto, California, could not be more excited to watch our 49ers take the field every Sunday. This season promises to be an interesting one. With all of the roster and coaching changes, it will be fun to watch how the team adjusts and performs in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions. Let’s take a look at what the 2015 season could look like for the 49ers.
Main Storylines to Watch
This offseason was a rough one for the hometown ‘Niners. They suffered major losses at many key positions, and also went through a coaching change. Once the clear-cut front runner in a weak NFC East division, the 49ers should expect a small fall from grace as they attempt to adjust to the new roster and much improved division competition.
The defense lost legendary linebacker Patrick Willis, all-pro defensive end Justin Smith, and promising rookie talent Chris Borland to retirement, while the offense lost offensive linemen Jonathan Martin to retirement and Mike Iupati to free agency. That is a huge chunk of talent to replace, but that isn’t even all of the offseason departures.
The 49ers also will not be bringing back wide receivers Michael Crabtree, and Stevie Johnson, long-time starting running back Frank Gore, or cornerbacks Parrish Cox and Chris Culliver. Needless to say there will be an early adjustment period, but despite all of the offseason departures, this 49ers team is still loaded with young talent and could surprise the league with a playoff appearance in 2015.
Another storyline to watch will be how new Head Coach Jim Tomsula sets the tone for his players. After the dramatic exit of former coach Jim Harbaugh, Tomsula comes in as an almost completely opposite character than his predecessor. While Harbaugh displayed an ego and a fair amount of flash to go along with his offensive minded approach to the game, Tomsula is a meat and potatoes type of guy with an eight year history as a defensive line coach.
The change in tone could be just what this 49ers team needs, as it became apparent last year that winning a Super Bowl would not be possible with the former state of affairs in San Francisco. Numerous arrests derailed the team’s season as multiple players earned suspensions and were involved in endless controversy. Tomsula promises a change in culture and attitude alike. It will be interesting to watch what he can make of the current roster.
Can Tomsula revive the career of the perpetually troubled Aldon Smith? Can the 49ers overcome all of the roster losses to make a run at the division title? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: Change was needed, and this 49ers team is certainly a change from the previous year.
Predicted Record: 9-7
The 49ers face a tough schedule to open the season, but it gets much weaker towards the back end. Other than their divisional rivals whom they will play twice a piece, the 49ers are set to face off against the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
That will make for a formidable schedule especially since their division features the back to back NFC champions Seattle Seahawks, young and talented St. Louis Rams, and the revitalized Arizona Cardinals.
Early losses are inevitable as the team faces some of the strongest teams in the NFL while also trying to form their own identity on the field. The ‘Niners have a chance to recover from their likely slow start after week 8’s matchup against the Rams.
If they can take three of their first nine games, they have a chance to end the season strongly after their bye week with only one likely loss to the Seahawks. A nine-win season might not be enough to take the division, but it could be enough to secure a wild card spot and give the 49ers a chance to surprise with a clean slate in the playoffs.
Breakout Players to Watch
Running Back, Carlos Hyde: Hyde was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Ohio State. He’s built like a powerful Volkswagen sedan and runs with some serious anger. Now that Frank Gore has signed with the Indianapolis Colts, the path is clear for Hyde to take the reigns as the 49ers full time starter and work horse back. Hyde showed promise in his rookie season, but was not given a full chance to be the star he was drafted to be. That is all changed now, so don’t be surprised to see Hyde’s name announced for the pro bowl at the end of the season.
Free Safety, Eric Reid: Reid had a great rookie campaign that saw him voted into the pro bowl. He ended the 2013 season with 4 interceptions and 73 tackles. As is common with many successful rookies, Reid saw a bit of a regression in his play his 2nd year in the league in 2014, but he was still far from bad. Reid looks to be one of the rising stars on a young 49ers defense, and could cement himself as one of the best safeties in the league with a return to form in 2015.
Quarter Back, Colin Kaepernick: Kaepernick represents the x-factor on the 2015 49ers team. As a young, ultra-athletic quarterback, Kaepernick has the keys to the 49ers season, and it remains to be seen if he is up to the task of making a deep playoff run. Kaepernick has had success in the playoffs before, reaching the Super Bowl in 2012, and the NFC championship game in 2013, but those teams were much stronger than the current regime, and Kaepernick was not relied on for the team’s success as he will be in 2015.
2014 was seen as a down year for Kaepernick as he threw 2 more interceptions, 2 less touchdowns, and had his passer rating fall 5 points from the previous year, but both his passing yards and rushing yards increased. If Kaepernick becomes the team leader that the 49ers believe he can be, there is no ceiling for this potential super star, which is good news for the 49ers in this transition season.
Celebrate Winning Deals at Central Valley Volkswagen
This season promises to be an interesting one, and the 49ers show a lot of promise despite losing numerous key pieces. Come by Central Valley Volkswagen located at 4620 North McHenry Avenue Modesto, California and never miss a game by picking up an all new fun-to-drive Volkswagen Jetta. Your commute to Levi’s stadium has never been more fun than it will be in one of our amazing new models. Call our sales team at (877) 762-4792 to schedule your test drive today.