No. 9: 2015 49ers see a mass change of players and coaches
An argument could be made the 2015 edition of the 49ers should be ranked last. After the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014, there were many changes in the offseason. Five players retired, five got released and two were traded. Also, head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke didn’t have the best relationship, which caused the “mutual” parting of ways with Harbaugh.
A game hadn’t even been played yet and there was so much drama within the organization.
Of the player changes just before the 2015 season, fan-favorite punter Andy Lee was traded. Running back legend Frank Gore moved on to play for the Indianapolis Colts. Finally, wide receiver Michael Crabtree left to cross the Bay Bridge and play for the Oakland Raiders. In November, the 49ers sent tight end Vernon Davis packing in a trade.
The only constant in the organization was the new head coach, Jim Tomsula, who had been the defensive line coach since 2007. Tomsula got a taste of the head coaching gig in 2010 for one single game as an interim. But it seemed the Niners were set on a no-brainier to have him as the next head coach.
The 49ers defenses under Tomsula and former defensive coordinator Eric Mangini were thought to be spectacular. So one would assume the defense would be just fine. Unfortunately, with all the departures and retirement of Patrick Willis, the 49ers just couldn’t muster anything. They finished 18th in scoring defense with the third worst in yards allowed.
Fresh off signing a two-year deal in the offseason, Blaine Gabbert took over starting duties in the middle of the season, picking up just three wins. Colin Kaepernick started the year, but Tomsula elected to make the switch.
At the end of the season, the choice was made to let Tomsula go.
It was another rough year in the organization. But it was only the beginning of a slide from greatness.