San Francisco 49ers’ 2016 Season Already Looks Hopeless


Just a year ago, the San Francisco 49ers were in the midst of one of the most disastrous offseasons in NFL history.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh was let go after feuding with General Manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York. Potential Hall of Famers Justin Smith and Patrick Willis retired. Willis’ replacement, linebacker Chris Borland, retired after just one season due to concerns with concussions. As if those losses were not enough, a host of prominent Niners players (Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, etc) conducted an exodus during free agency, further crippling a team that was just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance.

It seemed like things could not get much worse for the Niners after last offseason. Because of the player turnover and the changes to the coaching staff, there were few expectations for the 2015 season. But after less than a week into the 2016 free agency period, it’s clear that the Niners continue to spiral further down an endless abyss of turmoil.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Much has been made of the Colin Kaepernick saga, and whether he remains with the team or not. That distraction has more or less taken the spotlight of just how terrible the 49ers are. It can be easily argued that no other NFL team has as many needs as the Niners. For many mediocre teams in the NFL, a lack of a true number-one quarterback is what truly inhibits them from being a contender. The Niners have such a dearth in talent, even if Kaepernick were to return to the form that helped lead them to a Super Bowl, they still would probably finish no better than third in their own division.

Since the free agency period began on March 9th, there has been a flurry of activity around the league to sign the most sought after players. Armed with $50 million in cap space, the Niners had plenty of ammo to address some of their team needs before the draft. Unfortunately for Niners fans, the only moves of note thus far are the retaining of Nose Tackle Ian Williams, kicker Phil Dawson, and running back, Shaun Draughn. Not exactly what anyone would call wholesale changes to a team with the seventh worst record in the NFL.

What seems like a plot out of the Twilight Zone, the 49ers’ crosstown rivals have flipped the tables in terms of relevancy and promise. The Oakland Raiders have made several splashes in free agency, signing arguably the best cornerback and offensive lineman available in Sean Smith and Kelechi Osemele, respectively. Both positions are areas of dire need for the Niners as well.

Perhaps the biggest precursor for a terrible 2016 season was the surprise hiring of Eagles head coach castoff, Chip Kelly. It is well documented that Kelly did not exactly endear himself to highly productive star players, nor did he make the wisest personnel decisions with the power he was given. To say that Kelly is not an attractive coach to play for, for any player looking for a new team, would not be farfetched. As if the Niners did not paint themselves into the “worst destination team to play for” corner with their treatment of Harbaugh, hiring Kelly was not exactly a step in the right direction of attracting top talent.

Th 49ers were recently awarded with the maximum four compensatory draft picks for their losses to free agency last year, bringing their total number of picks for this year’s draft to twelve. That would be one positive aspect on the side of the Niners, except for the fact that Baalke has not had a glowing list of future stars come out of his recent drafts. Seeing as free agency is not looking like it will plug some holes for the Niners, Baalke and company will have to be near perfect with the draft if they are to have any semblance of hope in 2016.

Next: San Francisco 49ers NFL Draft Mock 1.0

It truly is hard to imagine how the Niners could have had a worse offseason than in 2015. Yet here in 2016, with a murky quarterback situation, a much maligned new coach, and zero free agent impact players signed, the Niners may still have not reached total rock bottom.