NFL win totals were recently released by LVH Westgate in Las Vegas. Last June I profiled grabbing the under on Saints wins for the 2014 season. The entire division was in free fall mode and that was a solid grab for all of us.
This upcoming season, I’ve had my eyes on a team that I knew would come into the 2015 season with devalued buyers and odds. San Francisco is a team that seems bent backwards from an organizational stand point and player personnel. They’ve had issues dating back to a season ago that have transpired into Jim Harbaugh exiting, two players retiring on defense, and a new head coach in Jim Tomsula. A recipe that in normal organizations would lead you to believe a down season is upcoming.
An overhaul of this size may save the transitional phase of Colin Kaepernick’s career. San Francisco never let Colin be himself from a quarterback stand point. His success during their Super Bowl run came from utilizing him as a mobile quarterback. They rolled him out for big play action gains with Vernon Davis or ran the wildcat to perfection. The toned down use of the wildcat was understandable, but making him a pocket quarterback made no sense to me.
San Francisco never truly had capable receivers that got open on a consistent basis besides Anquan Boldin. Michael Crabtree was hurt far too often and is now a Raider. Davis has been back and forth healthwise but has been their main asset on offense.
The raw talent and capability is there for Kaepernick. Even during his rough phase the past two seasons he has shown enough glimpses to showcase an uptick with new surroundings. Against the Saints he showed poise on the road in a game where he had to utilize his arm via mobility. Down in the fourth quarter he threw a missile downfield that ended up leading the 49ers to victory. The first game of the 2013 season against the Packers was one of the top quarterback performances I can recall watching over the past two years. He threw for over 400 yards and made sideline throws that are unmatched by the majority of NFL quarterbacks due to his overall strength.
This offseason he has spent time training with Kurt Warner and should show development from Warner’s teachings.
Frank Gore was one of the key assets that kept the 49ers from self destructing completely the past couple of seasons. But the time was appropriate to move on and let Carlos Hyde become a feature back along with newly signed veteran Reggie Bush. The speed components of Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson are going to allow for Kaepernick to showcase his deep ball more often. His primary deep ball target has solely been Vernon Davis the past two seasons.
From a division stand point it’s hard to fathom the Cardinals replicating last year’s success. They won far too many games from relying on their defense. Counting on turnovers and stout defense can not be accounted for as often as the Cardinals did last season. St. Louis is still in limbo in my eyes. They have the great coach in Jeff Fisher but the offense remains a huge question mark. The same can be said for Seattle. The addition of Jimmy Graham looks great on paper but will Russ Wilson be able to fit the billing?
Wilson and the Seahawks have had their supreme rise done via a great home field advantage and timely plays on defense and from Wilson with his legs. I haven’t seen enough from Wilson’s arm to believe he can be a top ten drop back passer. Defensively they’ve come down to Earth substantially from their Super Bowl winning season. The Chargers, Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, and Rams showcased that you can attack the Seahawks defense and put the pressure on the offense to produce.
The x-factor in my decision to grab the 49ers is their new Head Coach in Jim Tomsula. The Pennsylvania product has truly worked his way up the ranks. He had a great track record during his years coaching defense in NFL Europe. Since 2007 he has been a part of the 49ers organization as their defensive coordinator. Many people scratched their heads at his hiring but he is the player’s coach that leads to success for NFL franchises. Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians, etc.
Tomsula will get the job done. Gaps currently seen on defense will be filled before the season begins. Offensively the 49ers may have their best offensive team in years.
Play the over on 7.5 wins with the 49ers.