There’s an air of uncertainty in San Francisco this season as Chip Kelly works to install his spread offense against a trio of tough NFC West defenses
Coming off a tumultuous off-season in 2015 that saw the loss of their head coach (Jim Harbaugh) and a host of notable starters — some to free agency and others to early retirement — it’s no wonder the 49ers sunk to their lowest win total since 2007. The result was a complete changing of the guard at HC and co-ordinator and Chip Kelly takes over sporting a 26-22 SU record in the pros, one game below .500 against the number (23-24-1 ATS).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 5-11 SU and 7-9 ATS
Over/Under: 7-9 O/U
Noteworthy: The Niners played one Thursday game in 2015, a 20-3 home loss to Seattle. The “Under” moved their recent record in mid-week games to 1 over and 8 unders and on average, the nine games have stayed nearly 13 points below the posted total. This year, San Francisco hosts Arizona on Thursday Night Football in Week 5.
Kelly will still call the plays on offense but relinquishes his ‘complete control’ responsibilities with player personnel. Blaine Gabbert has the inside lane at starting QB with Colin Kaepernick recovering from multiple surgeries. but it’s highly likely that each will see action in 2016. Kelly is also big on sixth round pick, Jeff Driskel, citing his speed and intelligence as top qualities that drew Kelly’s attention in April. Carlos Hyde will head a RB by committee rushing attack that should excel under new O-Co Curtis Modkins, who is considered a run-game specialist.
The Niners defense ranked near the bottom of nearly every major category in 2015 and it’s unlikely that will change much. Kelly’s Eagles were occasionally hung out to dry when the offense couldn’t covert third downs and his overall record when scoring 20 points or less is 0-14 SU/ATS. First round draft pick DE DeForest Buckner will be the one to watch.
49ers BOTTOM LINE: SENDING OUT AN ‘SOS’
San Francisco may start off on the right foot vs. the Rams but from there, their schedule ranks as one of the more difficult in the league. Carolina, Seattle, Dallas and Arizona (Week’s 2-5) are followed by an early body clock game at Buffalo. Week’s 7 and 9, surrounding the bye, offer a chance to link wins (Bucs and Saints) but gaining more than six is a long shot.