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What will define a successful 2015 season for the 49ers?

Jun 11, 2015 at 4:14 PM

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Every person or organization has their own version of success. The actual definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. In sports, the ultimate goal is to win the big game or series. In the NFL all 32 teams are aiming to win the Super Bowl. Since we can only crown one champion, does that mean the remaining 31 teams did not achieve success? Did the New England Patriots have a successful run when they went undefeated during the 2007 regular season? Did losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants take away from what they were able to accomplish? Are they tarnished because they were defeated by a 9-7 football team? These are questions we may all answer in a different way. I ask you as 49ers fans to define what you feel will be a successful season.

In a perfect world, everything comes together; we win all of our games including two landslide victories over Seattle. We stay hot through the playoffs and seal the deal on our home turf. Sounds good to me, but this is not realistic. I plan to set a realistic expectation for this team, so I am not so disappointed. Bottom-line, I want to feel as good as possible about our season. In an offseason of turmoil, here is what I will personally define as a "successful season."

Number of Wins
Next to a Super Bowl victory, wins and losses can define the success of a team's season. This year, we will see how we really stack up against a very tough schedule including two grueling games with each NFC West opponent. Considering we were 8-8 last year with more pieces in place, I would view 9-7 as a successful season for first year head coach Jim Tomsula paired with the additions and subtractions to the roster. As long as we don't backwards, it will be a success and give us hope for this new regime.

Home Field Advantage
We need to defend our home turf. Watching Chicago comeback and beat us in our home opener set the tone for the new facility. We need to figure out a way to win at home. If we can win the majority of our home games and get the crowd involved as the do in Seattle or Kansas City, I will view this as a success. A 5-3 home record would be good, but 6-2 would be better.

The Running Game
With Frank Gore wearing a horse shoe on his helmet, we lose the services of our franchise leading running back. We will now turn to Carlos Hyde to shoulder the load. Hyde only has 83 career carries under his belt. We did see flashes of brilliance in his game and we also saw him receive the bulk of the goal line carries as the season progressed. With Bush, Hunter, Davis and possibly Hayne in the rotation, Hyde will not have to do it all, but the pressure will be on him to perform. Last season, the 49ers out rushed their opponents by 565 total yards. If they can equal last year's numbers with a new-look offensive line and a new-look backfield, I would view this as a success. If Hyde can rush for over 1,000 yards, that would be a major victory for his confidence and our future.

The Development of Kaepernick
We all know that Kaepernick reported to Arizona immediately after the season to work with EXOS. He spent time with quarterback coaches Dennis Gile and Mike Giavondo. He also spent about a dozen sessions with Kurt Warner. In addition to his work on the field, he watched hours of film breaking down defenses. He was able to work with several athletes including Quinton Patten, Bruce Ellington and Jarryd Hayne of the 49ers. We are all hopeful that he can use his new found skills this season. I do not think Keapernick's success will be defined by stats. It will be defined by his decisions throughout each game and his ability to be a leader. If he throws for 120 yards and we win, who cares? I also hope to see him use his legs early and often. His name is constantly mentioned in trade rumors. If we see positive growth and squash the trade rumors, that will be a success.

The Kicking Game
Another familiar face has left the building. Andy Lee had trotted on the field for us 941 times, punting for more than 43,000 total yards. Lee had been with the team longer than any other player on the roster. Lee had been very reliable for us. We all saw the writing on the wall when the 49ers selected Brad Pinion a punter/place kicker out of Clemson in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Pinion has a big leg and can be a triple threat. He is known for his punts inside the 20 yard line as well as his booming place kicking. If Pinion can live up to his college stats, this will be a success. Field position changes a game. The 49ers feel they found the next long-term punter for a fraction of the cost.

The Defense
This will be a new look for us. With all of the offseason movement, we will really have to see who rises to the challenge. I am looking for Aldon Smith to have a huge year. We must apply pressure to the quarterback. We must also get off the field on 3rd downs. This will be interesting to watch considering we need to establish new leaders and a new identity. I will be watching the cornerbacks, which as a group has a few questions marks. If we can establish a few solid corners, this will be a success.

These are just a few items I will use to benchmark the season. What do you view as a successful 2015 campaign?
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Bob
    Winning with class! Or maybe just the absence of Jed-inflicted drama! Expectations are low; hope is high!
    Jun 16, 2015 at 4:44 AM
  • Marty
    This season could surprise people. On defense Vic played his players into the ground. Good players like Lynch, Dial & Tank just sat on the bench. Love the big defensive players they drafted. This defense could be special if the coaches just played the best players. On offense. Finally 49ers will have a NFL offense. Harbaugh had his system.That was it. The players were on the field with both hands tied behind their back. They didn't stand a chance. These coaches will create a offense that give the offensive players a chance. Why not build a system around Kaepernick. I always thought the idea was to win games. Not have the prettiest pocket. Give Kaepernick & the offense the freedom to win games. I guess that secondary. All the offenses in the NFC West suck. It would not take much to be the best. Let see if the 49ers finally get it right.
    Jun 14, 2015 at 6:38 AM
    Response: Great points. Giving Kap some freedom will equal wins! According to reports they have simplified things a bit, so we should see a less confused group on the field.
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Nothing short of a super bowl win. The fans have always demanded it. Even our so called illustrious leader, Jed York, has said that that's where he is going to set the bar. Or was that just an excuse to get rid of Harbaugh? After three NFC championship appearances and a super bowl appearance why should we settle for anything less? Why lower our standards? Let's just cut straight through the rhetoric. I'm not ready to let Jed off the hook.
    Jun 12, 2015 at 10:39 AM
    Response: Every owner and GM aims for a Super Bowl or bust. With so many changes it's hard to say where will end up, that's why I set my own personal expectations a bit low. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
  • Edd
    John, this may sound strange, but for me the 49ers main benchmark to success is to establish a "Team Identity" to winning. Under the Harbaugh years, despite their great record, the 49ers played "TO NOT LOSE". I hate this philosophy, and I hope they start going out there with an attitude to demolish their opponent and win. And if they get the advantage, I want to see them run up the score and crush the other team. The Harbaugh 49ers were so timid that many times I just screamed at the TV. So yes, the amount of wins, and how they fought for those wins is most important to me.
    Jun 12, 2015 at 7:45 AM
    Response: Yes, I also yelled and sometimes threw items in the general direction of the tv. We need to get to line faster and pick up the pace. A simpler offense and better play calling will help the cause.
  • I totally agree with this article. Very well written.
    Jun 12, 2015 at 7:31 AM
    Response: Thank you, I appreciate your input. Stay tuned for more articles.
  • rick
    John: Nice write up. Yes, the number of wins is the first measure for this 49er team. The other bench marks you note are indeed relevant. Another thing I will be watching is how the organization functions as a whole. Will the communication between upper management, the coaching staff, and the players be indicative of a cohesive unit? Will Jed York mature as an owner of the 49ers? Can Coach Tomsula put his imprint on the team or will he be simply a "yes man" for the GM, Trent Balke. Will the GM's off season acquisitions prove fruitful or is his luck running out? Will the 49ers get back to winning with class or will the sheriff's blotter continue to be filled with player arrests? Will the game management skills improve or will it again be marked by delay of game penalties because the team cannot simply get the play called in time? We will find out in the fall. Rick in Murrieta, CA
    Jun 11, 2015 at 8:33 PM
  • rick
    John: Nice write up. Yes, the number of wins is the first measure for this 49er team. The other bench marks you note are indeed relevant. A
    Jun 11, 2015 at 7:53 PM
    Response: Thank you. I did not even mention the fact it would be great to score a few touchdowns on special teams.
  • MidWestDynasty
    How about better play-calling on the offensive side of the ball?
    Jun 11, 2015 at 7:49 PM
    Response: Agree. That drove us all a bit crazy at times. Let's also get the play in faster and save time outs. Bottom line, we need improvement.
  • Dietrich from maui
    Looking at our schedule, 11-5 seems about right to me. Don't think we win in Seattle but every other game we should have a chance to be in. Last year on paper we were better but we had 0 speed. Like 0. This year I think we will shock teams when they load the box.
    Jun 11, 2015 at 7:25 PM
    Response: I like your feedback. Nobody is giving us a chance. Maybe I set too low of an expectation myself. All 49ers fans would take 11-5! Let's hope it happens!
  • Dave smith
    How about top 10 run defense?
    Jun 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM
    Response: Agree, that would be a huge success. We will have a big test opening night. Let's hope we shut down AP and set a good tone for the season.

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