Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Round Table: Which player will surprise fans this season?

May 17, 2016 at 4:04 PM2


The San Francisco 49ers kicked off organized team activities today. It was an opportunity for many 49ers players to get introduced to the fast pace of Chip Kelly practices. There are a lot of new players on the roster as well as some that went through the disappointing 5-11 2015 season, which resulted in the ousting of the previous coaching staff.

While many within the media are projecting another disappointing season for the franchise, it will be interesting to see if certain players flourish within the new 49ers offense or defense. There may even be some that surprise fans and help the 49ers perform better than most are predicting.

Who does the 49erswebzone.com staff believe those players might be? They were asked to identify the players that might emerge as a pleasant surprise during the upcoming season. Below are their choices.

Al Sacco: WR Bruce Ellington


While he hasn't had many chances, Ellington's shown a knack for making plays when he actually gets the ball in his hands. Three of his 13 receptions went for 30 yards or more last season, and he could prove to be a versatile threat in Chip Kelly's offense moving forward. An untapped talent, Ellington will surprise in 2016, as he'll be given every opportunity to contribute in a variety of formations.

Brandon Graham: LB Eli Harold


Harold gradually worked up his snap count as the season progressed in 2015, and I believe he'll be tapped to start opposite Aaron Lynch in 2016. Athletically he's a perfect fit as an edge defender in Jim O'Neil's defense, and now that he's reportedly added 20 plus pounds he should be better suited to shed blocks and make plays. Getting to play behind an improved defensive line, headlined by space-eating rookie DeForest Buckner, should free up Harold to make a major jump in his second season.

David Barclay: TE Blake Bell


I'm tabbing tight end Blake Bell to be the most improved offensive player of the 2016 season. Chip Kelly's offense favors featuring a tight end in the passing game, and Garrett Celek will not be the man.

Though it's going to be just his third season at the position, Bell showcased continuous progress through last year's disastrous season – the 24-year-old finished with 15 catches for 186 yards. Watch for him to at least double those figures this season.

Stewart M. Cockrell: QB Colin Kaepernick


Maybe it is the eternal optimist in me, but for some reason I feel like Colin and this offense were made for each other. I really think that he could put together a really special season that will make all the drama of the last two years seem like an after thought. I know there are concerns about his leadership ability, his attitude, his accuracy problems, etc. But I think this is the first time that Chip Kelly has a QB that can potentially scare other teams with his feet. A lot of this really depends on Colin himself as it appears the 49ers are at least on the surface going to let him have a chance to be the starter.

John Croston: TE Blake Bell


I think a player to keep an eye on this season would be TE Blake Bell. He showed signs of promise last year, and could very well be the starter by the end of the season. He has the size and athletic ability that I think will really intrigue Chip Kelly, and seems to be a much more natural receiver than Vance McDonald at this point. In spite of the fact that he is still learning the nuances of the position, I have a feeling that the coaching staff will find creative ways to get him involved and contributing.

Zain Naqvi: WR Quinton Patton


The 4th year wideout will have a breakout season playing in Chip Kelly's offense. Patton has never quite been able to get significant playing time up until now because he's been buried on the depth chart. When given the chance, he's shown that he can make plays with the ball in his hands. He's deceptively fast, but needs to polish his route running. If there's one thing we know about a Chip Kelly offense, it's that he can get it done without elite receivers (See: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews). Kelly's offense is designed to get receivers open early and to get the ball to them in space, which will serve #11 well. Patton still has serious potential, but has yet to build off of the two big seasons that he had in college at Louisiana Tech. I will say that last year was kind of a pass for everyone because of the awful coaching and the circumstances surrounding the team, so Patton will get a chance to reboot and will do well in this offense - provided the 49ers can find a quarterback to get him the ball.

David Bonilla: WR DeAndre Smelter


After spending his rookie season recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, Smelter is an unknown commodity for the 49ers. That may make him a rather unorthodox answer to this question. Early on, he drew comparisons to Anquan Boldin, who the team has yet to re-sign – perhaps partially due to the fact that Smelter is on the roster. The 49ers want to see what they have with their young receivers, so much so that they were willing to let their leading receiver over the past three seasons walk. Smelter's 11-inch hands were the largest of his draft class and he has the size to be a physical threat at receiver for the team. If he fulfills his potential, he could do a lot to help the 49ers offense keep drives alive and could be a pleasant surprise at receiver. I'm really interested to see how he looks in his first on-the-field action during preseason.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Mikecortese
    Let hope and pray that Chip Kelly can develop these young receivers rather than shell out for free agents.
    May 22, 2016 at 7:51 PM
    0
  • 49erF8full4Life
    What about Ronald Blair, a player described as "a man among boys" ... !?!
    May 18, 2016 at 4:00 AM
    1

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



George Kittle explains why Kyle Shanahan, 49ers fans should be excited about the 2021 season

By David Bonilla
23 hrs ago

George Kittle is confident that the San Francisco 49ers will rebound from last season's injury-plagued six-win campaign. It wasn't long ago that the team was in the Super Bowl, and much of that roster remains intact. Most feel that the Niners' 2019 season was an aberration and that a return to the playoffs is in store for this year's squad. Kittle joined Good Morning Football today and shared why the media should not overlook the 2021 49ers. "I don't know if you guys saw this, but Nick Bosa is coming back, and we re-signed Trent Williams," Kittle explained. "So those two guys are pretty good at football, from what I remember. They're pretty decent. And on the opposite side of Nick Bosa, you've got Dee Ford, you've got Arik Armstead." Bosa is



49ers coach Kyle Shanahan fires up NASCAR fans at Toyota/Save Mart 350

By David Bonilla
Jun 6, 2021

Maybe the San Francisco 49ers should look into having head coach Kyle Shanahan fire up the crowds at Levi's Stadium before each home game this season because he did a good job serving as the Grand Marshal of today's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race. He was tasked with the tradition of starting the race by telling the drivers to start their engines. "I'm not going to lie. I am nervous for it," Shanahan told the television announcing team before the race. "I didn't totally know what I was getting into until I saw video of it a little bit ago." Shanahan was told that he needs to be aggressive. "Alright, I'm going to come strong," he responded. He certainly did that. "Hello, Faithful," Shanahan told the crowd. "Hey,



49ers veterans finding defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to be a 'player's coach'

By Kirk Larrabee
Jun 2, 2021

DeMeco Ryans seems to be fitting in perfectly so far as the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, although that should come as no surprise given his previous NFL experience. Ryans, 36, played ten seasons in the league as a linebacker for the Houston Texans (2006-2011) and Philadelphia Eagles (2012-2015) after being selected by the Texans at pick 33 in Round 2 of the 2006 NFL Draft. After a career that saw him total 814 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and two Pro Bowl selections, Ryans began his coaching career as a quality control coach with the 49ers in 2017 and has since gone through a quick rise to defensive coordinator after serving as the inside linebackers coach the past three seasons. The fact that Ryans has a wealth of NFL experience and isn't far removed from his playing days means



Frelund names Deebo Samuel as 49ers' most underappreciated player

By David Bonilla
Jun 3, 2021

NFL Network analyst Cynthia Frelund released this year's list of the NFL's most underappreciated players, naming one player from each of the 32 teams. "First, I calculated and then ranked each player's season-long contribution metric by team," explained Frelund. "To sum it up without getting overly technical, contribution metric measures each player's production during the 2020 season. The metric encompasses a value for every snap by each player and reveals each player's contribution to the team's overall win total." Player salary and other metrics factored into each choice. Frelund's pick for the San Francisco 49ers


Featured

More by David Bonilla

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone