2015 Fantasy Football Team Preview: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had maybe the worst offseason of any team, losing multiple starters to retirement and free agency. That doesn't bode well in real life or fantasy for the 49ers offense, although the offense could be a little less conservative with Jim Harbaugh out. A running back by committee may be in place for the first time in a long time with Frank Gore gone, but this offense will go as Colin Kaepernick goes.
Bye Week: 6
Rookie Impacts: DeAndre Smelter (WR)
Smelter is unlikely to make a significant impact coming off ACL surgery, but he could become a factor if Anquan Boldin or Torrey Smith miss time during the season. He's not on the redraft radar, but keep an eye on him in preseason to see how he's recovering.
Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick
Although he hasn't lived up to the hype, Kaepernick is still a borderline QB1 thanks to his rushing ability (639 yards last year). His development as a passer hasn't been quite as encouraging, despite his impressive arm strength. The 49ers, whether they plan to or not, should throw quite a bit more this year since they'll be behind more often, which could turn Kaepernick into a sneaky fantasy stud. With more opportunity and freedom, his talent could shine. He's a high-upside pick.
Running back: Carlos Hyde
It would be much easier to get excited about Hyde getting the early down work for the 49ers if they were more competitive and if Reggie Bush wasn't brought on this offseason. While Bush isn't a threat to steal a lot of carries or goalline work, he will get most of the passing down opportunities, which could be plentiful given San Francisco's projected performance as a team. Hyde is a legitimate RB2 option in standard league's, but PPR players should probably stay away at least until the fifth round.
Running back: Reggie Bush
If he can stay healthy, Bush can provide value in the middle of your drafts as a receiving option out of the backfield. While the starting gig will be Hyde's, Bush isn't far removed from being a productive lead runner for the Lions and Dolphins, and there's still some ability in his 30-year-old body. There's a lot of passing down and garbage time catches in his future, which makes him a very smart pick late in your draft.
Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin
Boldin is always overlooked in drafts, but he outperforms his draft position nearly every season. Last season was no different, as Boldin put up a pretty impressive line (83/1062/5) despite Kaepernick's struggles. With Torrey Smith helping to take the top off defenses, Boldin should see the majority of work underneath and should once again provide great value in the middle of drafts, even at age 34.
Wide receiver: Torrey Smith
Smith is another type that's better suited for standard league players, as he's a deep threat with big play potential who always seems to get in the end zone more than you'd expect. While Smith has recorded 50 receptions or less in three of his four seasons, he's also scored at least 7 touchdowns in three of those four years. With the 49ers likely needing to pass more often than not, Smith is a nice pick in standard leagues but not a great option in PPR. We know Kaepernick has the cannon for Smith, but his accuracy is still up in the air.
Tight end: Vernon Davis
Was there a more disappointing player in fantasy last season than Vernon Davis? A year after scoring 13 touchdowns, Davis followed it up with an injury-ridden campaign (26/245/2) that killed many an owner. With that in mind, we can't hold grudges in fantasy, and Davis is a nice buy-low candidate in the last rounds of your draft as a backup tight end. The reports out of training camp are promising thus far, and Davis is in a contract year. He's a high upside flier.
Placekicker: Phil Dawson
It feels like Dawson has been kicking forever, and he's still getting it done at age 40. He connected on 6 field goals over 50 yards last year, which is nice for leagues that award bigger bonuses for long kicks. All that said, kickers on bad teams can usually be avoided, and the 49ers have one of the lower projected win totals in the league. You can look elsewhere.
Team defense (D/ST):
Stay away. The 49ers aren't nearly as intimidating defensively as they once were, and matchups against Pittsburgh and Green Bay in the first four weeks won't help. Let someone else draft the 49ers D based on past performance.