The Super Bowl is the only thing in the thoughts of the San Francisco 49ers this 2014 NFL season. Here are some bold predictions to watch for.
Corey Lemonier racks up double digit sacks
Pass rush has remained an inconsistent issue for the San Francisco 49ers. Sometimes they have loads of it, others not so much. A lot of that has to do with the fluid availability of star Aldon Smith due to off-the-field issues. That threatens to become a problem again in 2014 as he faces criminal charges for, among other things, illegal assault weapons, DUI and most recently a fake bomb call at LAX airport. This almost guarantees that Smith will see a suspension, if not jail time this year. That means it will be up to the team reserves to fill in for him, and next in line is Corey Lemonier. The young pass rusher out of Auburn flashed his potential last year in limited opportunities. With Smith and also NaVarro Bowman expected to miss time, his chance to start is at hand. Not only will he seize it, but the second-year man will exceed expectations and produce double digit sacks.
Kendall Hunter gets cut in favor of Marcus Lattimore
Not every team has the luxury of a log jam of talent on their roster, but that is the case for the 49ers and their running back position. Frank Gore is of course the man at the top but then there is Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and most recently Marcus Lattimore and rookie Carlos Hyde. With so many bodies and so few roster spots, it stands to reason that San Francisco has some hard decisions to make regarding who stays or goes. With Hyde almost certain to stay along with Gore, that leaves one or two spots left. Most expect it will be either James or Lattimore who get the axe. However, that won’t be the case because Hunter will be the one shipped out. Despite solid productivity in the past as a backup, he turns 26 in September. Running back is a position for the young, and since James has special teams value and Lattimore is three years younger, that leaves Hunter as the man facing the axe. Never mind the fact he’s in the last year of his contract.
Colin Kaepernick leads team to season sweep of Seattle Seahawks
It’s almost certain I’m going to hear it from the 12th man for this statement but I won’t hide from it. Everybody remembers what happened last season. The Seattle Seahawks won the season series against the San Francisco 49ers 2-1 including that epic NFC championship and went on to win the Super Bowl. Lost in that crushing defeat was the evolution of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Once haunted and hounded by the Seattle home crowd, he seemed to emerge in that title game to play some of the best football of his career, coming a tipped pass away from pulling off the victory. It showed the intimidation factor has worn down. Kaepernick doesn’t fear Seattle like he did early last season or in 2012. Given the additions on offense the 49ers made, Kaepernick can and should finally exorcise those demons and complete a season sweep of the defending champs.