Niners in flux? Not a chance

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Niners in flux? Not a chance

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

Alex Boucher,
Contributor

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As football fans know, the San Francisco 49ers’ 2015 offseason was somewhat tumultuous. Jim Harbaugh, the head coach who led the Niners to three straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl, left to coach the University of Michigan.

Shortly after Harbaugh’s departure, talented players such as defensive end Justin Smith, linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and offensive tackle Anthony Davis retired.

Harbaugh was regarded as one of the best coaches to come to the 49ers since Bill Walsh, an icon who won three Super Bowls during the team’s dominance in the 1980s.

Smith and Willis earned prestigious All-Pro honors throughout their careers and were known by some as the best players in the league at their position. Not surprisingly, people are saying the team is entering a rebuilding stage, although General Manager Trent Baalke prefers to say the team is “reloading” this season.

With training camp beginning at the end of July, the 49ers have added players who are young and hungry to prove their worth. They drafted Arik Armstead, a 6-foot-7 defensive lineman, to replace Justin Smith.

It may seem like things are not going very well for the San Francisco 49ers, but I beg to differ.”

— Alex Boucher

They drafted a tall punter with a strong leg and kick named Bradley Pinion to replace Andy Lee, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns. They also added more speed on offense when they drafted the very speedy wide receiver DeAndre Smelter.

They signed veteran players such as running back Reggie Bush, defensive end Darnell Dockett and wide receiver Torrey Smith. The team got rid of scapegoat offensive coordinator Greg Roman and other members of Harbaugh’s staff that struggled last season to produce consistent results.

Now let’s look at the 49ers schedule. They play tough teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals twice. The Seahawks have been to the Super Bowl the last two years, winning one.

The Cardinals made the playoffs last year and have a ferocious defense that gives any offense an abundance of problems. However, both teams have made numerous changes to their rosters and both have players coming back from serious injuries.

The entire Seahawks’ defensive backfield was injured at the end of the season, which is one of the team’s biggest strengths. The Cardinals’ starting quarterback, former Oakland Raider Carson Palmer, is well into his 30s and coming back from reconstructive knee surgery.

Other teams on the schedule — the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens — should pose no serious threats to the 49ers. The 49ers have won their last four meetings with the Packers.

The Bears and Giants have problems with their quarterbacks and the Falcons and Ravens have aging defenses that struggled against some of the worst offenses in the league last season.

The 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has worked hard this off season to rectify issues that plagued him last year. He’s worked with legendary quarterback Kurt Warner on his throwing motion.

The new 49ers offensive coordinator and last season’s quarterback coach Geep Chryst, has instilled an offense that moves faster to get plays off with more screen passes to running backs, which was nowhere to be found last year. Bush’s strong suit is being a good receiving running back and one of the reasons he was signed was largely because he fits Chryst’s offense.

It may seem like things are not going very well for the San Francisco 49ers, but I beg to differ. The change was needed. Harbaugh’s demeanor wore thin with the players and he lost the trust he had with them a few seasons back. Off-the-field arrests were also common during his tenure.

New head coach Jim Tomsula is a player’s coach who can keep them motivated and away from potential trouble outside of football. The roster for the team is still loaded with talent and although there are still many critics that think otherwise, the players are anxiously waiting to prove them wrong.