No. 6 — 2015
Record: 5-11 (fourth in the NFC West)
Head Coach: Jim Tomsula
Starting Quarterbacks: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert
Best Players: OT Joe Staley, NT Ian Williams, LB NaVorro Bowman
Last year was bad, there’s no getting around that. If anything, the 5-11 record overly flattered the team; every win but the season opener against Minnesota could have, and in a couple cases, should have, gone the other way. They were dead last on offense, scoring just 14.9 points per game, and only the Cleveland Browns had a worse point differential.
It didn’t have to happen, either. You would think that grown men could get in a room and hash out their differences when faced with problems, but Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke and Jed York couldn’t find the common ground to salvage a relationship which had led to the 49ers’ best three-year period since George Seifert was head coach. They replaced him with an energetic good guy in Tomsula, but someone who was in no way prepared to take over an NFL head-coaching opportunity, and the results on the field were perhaps what the franchise deserved.
There were big issues, with legends like Patrick Willis and Frank Gore leaving the franchise. There were little issues, with the team stubbornly continuing to trot out Jordan Devey at right guard, even as their floundering starting quarterback got pounded and injured. There was a lack of direction throughout the franchise; it was a long, long season.
Time will tell if it was a one-year blip or if the 49ers will be in this hole for a long time to come.