And so it begins. The Chip Kelly Era is underway.
Kelly’s Eagles team last year, while “collapsing” to a 7-9 record after two straight 10-6 seasons, still finished 13th in points scored and 12th in yards — yardage stats that dwarf anything accomplished by the 49ers in the past fourteen years. Fans clamoring to see some oomph from the offensive side of the ball should at last get some satisfaction in 2016.
Whether an improved offense translates into a better won/loss record remains to be seen. At the moment, the defense looks entirely unimpressive. There’s nobody to rush the passer and not much in the trenches to stop the run. Still, there are two number one picks on the D-line and two in the secondary. If they all play up to their draft position expectations, maybe the defense will surprise us this year.
But unless the Niners are just being misinforminating, we will at least have a good old-fashioned QB controversy this year to inflame the nerves of the blogosphere. Whether Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert is on the field any given Sunday, you can be sure the fans of the one on the bench will be picking apart every aspect of the on field guy’s game. It’s unlikely this dispute will get anywhere near the decibel levels of the Alex Smith years, but one can hope.
The biggest obstacle facing the team this year is the schedule. Specifically, the year to year unchanging part. The six games against the three other NFC West teams. Those three teams are all playoff contenders this year, and likely to remain so for awhile. The 49ers were lucky to win one game against them last year. They’ll be lucky to win even one this year, too. Until they can contend in the division, they don’t have a chance to contend in the league.