We’ve discussed, over and over, how difficult the schedule is shaping up to be in 2016. Week 15 offers one of the few reprieves on that schedule, and it comes in the form of a team the Falcons lost to a year ago. Good times!
The loss to Blaine Gabbert’s 49ers a year ago was frankly humiliating, and I expect the Falcons will not want to repeat that mistake. Atlanta’s the better team on paper already, so this one should be plenty winnable. To learn more about whether or not the 49ers got better themselves, let’s turn to our friends at Niners Nation.
Notable free agent additions: OT Zane Beadles (yep, that’s it)
Notable free agent departures: OG Alex Boone
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
DT DeForest Buckner (1st rd) - likely starting as nickel DT, could quickly move into base defense as a defensive end
OG Joshua Garnett (1st rd) - expected to start at either right guard or left guard
CB Rashard Robinson (4th rd) - impressed in offseason workout program, could end up getting time in dime defense
DT Ronald Blair (5th rd) - could be rotational guy all along the defensive line
RB Kelvin Taylor (6th rd) - lot of opportunities behind Carlos Hyde, with nobody established as a complementary back.
Biggest offseason addition: Chip Kelly - The 49ers did not invest heavily in free agency. They added a lot of potential in the draft, but this offseason will be a success or failure primarily based on how Chip Kelly works out as head coach.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Quarterback position - Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are competing to be the starting quarterback. Kaepernick spent most of the offseason workout program rehabbing three surgeries on his shoulder, thumb, and knee. He got into team drills in minicamp, but Gabbert would seem to have an edge having gotten first team reps the entire offseason workout program. Kaepernick is expected to be cleared 100 percent for training camp.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Wide receiver position - Torrey Smith is the top WR at this point, but the No. 2 is unknown. Quinton Patton has handled No. 2 work for now, but there are some interesting younger options. 2015 draft pick DeAndre Smelter spent the 2015 season on the NFI list, rehabbing an ACL injury, but he was fully cleared from the offseason workout program. Eric Rogers spent 2014 and 2015 in the CFL and was the leading receiver last year. They are two to watch.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
DT Ian Williams - The nose tackle had multiple surgeries on his ankle in the offseason, and is questionable to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
DT Glenn Dorsey - Tore his ACL last November. No word on when he will be cleared to return.