San Francisco 49ers: Top 5 Positions Needing Improvement in 2016
By Jerod Brown
It’s fair to say that most expected to see the quarterback position somewhere on this list. Depending on your support of quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, you might not have expected to see it as the most important position to improve in 2016.
Again, this list is not about finding the best outside player to improve. In fact, in some cases it is about the coaching staff preparing the current players to succeed.
As for 49ers signal caller, they have plenty of choices to make this offseason.
A new head coach is sure to be approached about his desire to work with Kaepernick and how he answers that question may be a deciding factor of his interview.
Kaepernick signed what appeared to be a mega-deal in 2014 but the structure of the contract turned out to be incredibly team-friendly. The contract has been scrutinized since the details were made available and some feel that Kap was taken advantage of by a front office when he tried to help secure other players.
Gabbert took over for Kap after the 49ers began the season with a 2-6 record. Former head coach Jim Tomsula said he wanted Kap to “step back and breathe“, although the 49ers high-priced QB never took another snap in the 2015 season and was placed injured reserve to end the year.
Baalke will have decisions to make this offseason as to whether the 49ers keep Kaepernick and hope that the incoming coaching staff will be able to rectify the problems or whether the team releases him, dealing with the contract repercussions as a result.
The team has game tape on the quarterbacks and will likely spend the majority of the offseason figuring out exactly what to do.
The free agent quarterback class won’t look much better than the options already on the roster, meaning that if the 49ers decide that neither QB is a long-term answer, they could turn to the draft to find their next signal caller.
Jared Goff, the quarterback for the University of California Berkeley Golden Bears, is a hot name among most scouts right now. Although Goff isn’t consider a Day 1 starter, most scouts believe he could develop into a solid NFL quarterback if he is given the time to adjust to the NFL.
49ers fans remember the debacle of Alex Smith’s first years in San Francisco and avoiding that scenario needs to be priority number one for Baalke and Co.
Jon Ledyard of USA Today Sports broke down another intriguing quarterback prospect. And he will be available much later in the draft than Goff:
Carson Wentz isn’t quite as large a name as Goff now, but he could gain serious traction in the weeks leading up to the draft. 49ers fans should familiarize themselves with Wentz now, as we may hear some rumors leading up to April.
The 49ers are busy interviewing for the head coaching vacancy but will need to immediately begin assessing this roster once that process ends.
There are more than a handful of players on this roster that may not return in 2016 and Trent Baalke will need to find ways to improve this roster dramatically in 2016.
Fans are hoping for a turnaround after a tumultuous season 2015 and and introducing new names to the roster could be the shakeup that excites fans and players alike.
If Baalke and his scouts can improve just a few positions, the 49ers are immediately back to being playoff contenders yet again.
Next: Why Firing Jim Tomsula was the Right Move
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and ESPN.com unless otherwise indicated.