San Francisco 49ers: An Autopsy of the 2015 NFL Season

6 of 7

Nov 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) watches play on the sidelines during the second half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries, Underwhelming Performances and Team-Wide Lack of Production

Much of the blame falls upon those who never don pads during an NFL contest. But a good chunk of the disastrous 2015 season falls upon the efforts of the players themselves.

OK, so not every single 49ers player should be considered a part of the problem. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s return from his knee injury has been remarkable. The 49ers have also gotten amicable production out of nose tackle Ian Williams, defensive back Jimmie Ward, left tackle Joe Staley and linebacker Aaron Lynch.

But the players have to be held accountable as well as those who assembled and lead them.

Take a look at the statistical marks San Francisco has through Week 16. They aren’t pretty.

[table id=20 /]

One can look at nearly every position and determine its shortcomings. The 49ers are that weak across the board.

Yet let’s evaluate the single-most important position in football: quarterback.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was supposed to be the franchise not so long ago. And yet his struggles, emerging from his 2014 efforts, never went away. If anything, the 28-year-old signal-caller no longer has the abilities to simply overmatch NFL defenses.

The league caught up to him.

August 23, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) runs with the football against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kaepernick’s benching in Week 9, in favor of backup QB Blaine Gabbert, may have signaled the end of the former’s tenure in San Francisco.

Forget about the team-friendly contract and all the leaks about Kaepernick being a scapegoat for a moment. Kaepernick had to understand he would be under the microscope in 2015 regardless of all the changes around him and whether or not he was being set up to fail.

And he never grasped it.

Kaepernick was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but it isn’t as if it mattered much to his future with the Niners.

But other injuries plagued the 49ers as well. Running back Carlos Hyde, who would have been a staple of San Francisco’s offense, never got much of a chance aside from Week 1. A foot injury hampered, then sidelined him for the duration of the season.

Next: The Ultimate Cause of Failure