Already mired in a three-game losing streak, the 49ers took a late lead against the New York Giants in Week 5 on a short touchdown run by Carlos Hyde. The Giants responded with an 82-yard drive, scoring the winning touchdown with 21 seconds left to snatch away a 30-27 victory. Hyde also suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the loss and played in only two more games.
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Blaine Gabbert was being mentioned among the biggest busts in league history after he washed out during his first three seasons in Jacksonville. Gabbert was 6-22 with the Jaguars and had lost his last 10, but in his first start in more than two years, he directed the 49ers to a 17-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He finished with 10 TD passes, seven interceptions and 2,031 yards in eight starts.
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With the 49ers trailing by a touchdown at Chicago with 3 1/2 minutes to go on Dec. 6, quarterback Blaine Gabbert had runs of nine and seven yards to move his team past midfield. Gabbert then bolted up the middle and raced untouched into the end zone for a tying 44-yard TD run with 1:42 to play. Once into overtime, Gabbert hit Torrey Smith on a 71-yard scoring strike for a 26-20 victory.
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Paying a visit to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3, quarterback Colin Kaepernick had two interceptions returned for touchdowns before the game was six minutes old. Kaepernick was picked off four times overall and threw for only 67 yards in the embarrassing 47-7 rout. He admitted to being tentative the following week and was eventually benched midway through the season.
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Linebacker NaVorro Bowman sat out all of 2014 after suffering a severe knee injury in the NFC Championship Game following the 2013 season. Bowman was slow to recover and admitted he lost a step during the early part of the campaign, but he continued to progress and finished the season as the league's leading tackler (154) while claiming his third Pro Bowl honor.
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Best offseason acquisition
In terms of production, rookie running back Jarryd Hayne did not register much of a blip on the radar. Yet the former Australian rugby standout was one of the few engaging storylines, earning a spot on the roster and winning the starting job as the team's primary punt returner. Hayne eventually was benched and waived, but he was re-signed to the practice squad and earned a start in Week 16.
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The 49ers were without their top three running backs when they signed Shaun Draughn, who was joining his eighth team after getting waived by Cleveland in early October. Draughn started on Nov. 8, days after he was signed, and had 20 touches in each of his first three games. He was the only running back to get a carry or reception in consecutive games and kept the ground game afloat until he was hurt in his sixth start.
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Wide receiver Torrey Smith was signed to a five-year, $40 million contract as a free agent but did little to justify his salary. Smith finished the season with 33 receptions and had a stretch of 13 consecutive games in which he caught a total of 21 passes. Smith also had only four touchdown receptions after recording 30 in his first four seasons with Baltimore.