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There is no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers roster will look different than its 2014 counterpart, but how different will be determined by the next few days and the NFL Draft. The team is getting ready to dive into free agency and is hopeful to fill in some of the gaps and add some depth. After all, the team was devastated by injuries last season.
The team will be able to stretch the field more with a signing of wide receiver Torrey Smith. Multiple reports state that the former Baltimore Raven coming to the 49ers is a 'done deal.'
Free agency kicks off today at 1 PM Pacific.
So let's take a look at the starting offense first as it stands now.
On Sunday night, there were rumors that Kaepernick was on the trading block and that teams had contacted the 49ers to gauge their interest. 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was quick to label the rumors as false. This rumor was a bit odd considering Kaepernick is the only quarterback under contract with the team, but this might not have been an issue if it had been a trade that included another quarterback.
2014: Frank Gore
2015: Carlos Hyde
A hopefully healthy Kendall Hunter will return as well, which will allow to 49ers to switch between two — maybe even three — running backs, keeping each one fresh. Gore's legacy with the team is clear, but the team may not miss much of a step here if everyone is healthy. What they will miss is the leadership that Gore brought to the offense.
2014: Bruce Miller
2015: Trey Millard
On Monday, Miller was arrested on spousal battery charges. He may not be with the team much longer. They may be looking for a replacement.
2014: Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson
2015: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith … ?
Smith will be a great signing that will allow the team to stretch the field. Boldin has been helping to recruit Smith to the 49ers and he is better than Crabtree. The 49ers are making out great here. Behind these guys you have players like Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton. If the 49ers do release Stevie Johnson, which everyone believes they will, then they will likely look to the NFL Draft to fill in that number three spot.
Despite his drop in production last season, Davis is not going anywhere.
Joe Staley, Anthony Davis
Nothing changes here and they will remain in the 49ers' long-term plans. Both players are signed through 2019.
2014: Mike Iupati, Alex Boone
2015: Brandon Thomas, Alex Boone
The loss of Mike Iupati is tough, but remember that the 49ers had already been planning for life after their best offensive lineman. They drafted Thomas last year, who fell to the third round because of a torn ACL. Thomas may have been a steal for the team. The only reason for my status grade here is because we have never seen him play at the NFL level. However, they may be fine for years to come at the left guard position.
2015: Daniel Kilgore
2014: Marcus Martin
Kilgore suffered a season-ending leg injury in late-October. Marcus Martin struggled a bit filling in for him, but got some valuable playing time. Even if Kilgore is ready for the 2015 season, Martin may be the team's future at center.
And now the starting defense as it stands now…
2014: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald
2015: Tank Carradine, Darnell Dockett
Carradine showed flashes of solid play in 2014, but to consider him at the level of Smith right now would be premature. There is still a slight possibility that Smith will return, but all signs say that he will retire from the NFL. McDonald was released because of multiple off-the-field issues and the team brought in Darnell Dockett from Arizona, who is a fantastic pass rusher. The 49ers may be just fine at the defensive end position … at least as far as the starters go. However, Dockett's age does not make him a long-term solution.
Nothing changes here and the team likes Williams. However, this is a contract year for Williams. An added bonus is that Glenn Dorsey will be returning from injury.
2014: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks
2015: Aldon Smith, Aaron Lynch
The team is expected to release Ahmad Brooks after June 1 or at least designate him a post-June 1 cut. Lynch has played well when asked to do so and the team is comfortable enough with him to consider Brooks expendable.
Pre-2014: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman
2015: Chris Borland, NaVorro Bowman
This one is noted with "pre-2014" because Willis and Bowman were meant to be the starters. Bowman did not play a snap, Willis missed much of the season, and Borland started late and got injured at the end. The position in 2014 was in too much flux to use as a fair comparison. With that said ... Willis, who will retire from football, was the heart and soul of the defense. Forget his on-the-field contributions, it is his leadership that will be very tough to replace. Borland had an amazing rookie season despite only playing part of the season. He got shoved around by some of the more physical teams and players — but he was a rookie thrown into a starting role. He will only get better. For now, the status is a downgrade because of everything that Willis brought to the position and defense in whole, but the team will be just fine as Borland continues to improve.
2014: Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox
2015: Tramaine Brock, ?
Culliver will demand too much money in free agency, pricing himself out of the 49ers' plans. Cox may return, but is a free agent as well. Brock is the next man up. Behind him, you have a lot of youngsters like Jimmie Ward, who struggled in the nickel last season, Dontae Johnson, who the team likes but is raw, Marcus Cromartie, and Leon McFadden. The team needs to address the cornerback position big time because it is a bit of a mess as it stands.
Antoine Bethea, Eric Reid
Reid has been concussion prone and has been seeking expect advice regarding the issue. With some coaching and adjustments to his tackling, he could limit his injuries.