Ranked 5th against the pass, 7th against the run

221 passing yards a game, 5th in football

29 touchdown passes, tied for 5th most

23 interceptions, 1st in football

100.8 yards a game on the ground, 7th in football

7 rushing scores, 4th best in football.

36 sacks, 22nd in the NFL

321.4 yards a game, 5th best in football

21.3 points a game, 10th best in football


Jim Tomsula takes over as the head coach for the first time as Geep Chryst (OC) and Eric Mangini (DC) also step into new roles with the Niners.

The Niners figure to play a 3-4 scheme with Mangini at the helm. Eric is a grating personality that wears out his welcome quickly, and with all the doom/gloom over the Niners right now tabbing him in to run the defense seems like another questionable call by the 49ers front office. Mangini has been with the Niners the last two seasons but he was coaching tight ends. “All D-coordinators have their style,” said safety Antoine Bethea. “Coach Mangini, his thing is that we’re going to cause confusion. The offense is not going to know what we’re going to do each down. That could be bringing pressure; that could be dropping eight (players) in coverage. But it’s keeping the offense on their heels.” The defense might also blitz more under Mangini, that is if they can find anyone who can get to the quarterback (more on that below). “I would say so,’ said Tony Jerod-Eddie. “There’s a lot of moving around, a lot more ‘We’re going to get ’em.’


Ahmad Brooks, LB (misdemeanor sexual battery) – has effectively been placed on paid leave for the moment.

Justin Smith, DL (retired)

Patrick Willis, LB (retired)

Chris Borland, LB (retired)

Aldon Smith, DL/LB (released)

Dan Skuta, LB (signed with Jaguars)

Ray McDonald, DE (signed with Bears)

Chris Culliver, DB (signed with Redskins)

Perrish Cox, DB (signed with Tennessee)

Raymond Ventrone, S (retired)

Chris Cook, CB


Arik Armstead, DL (1st round selection)

Jaquiski Tartt, S (2nd round selection)

Eli Harold, OLB (3rd round selection)

Steve Beauharnais, LB

Nick Bellore, LB

Darnell Dockett, DL

Shawn Lemon, LB

Phillip Wheeler, LB

Shareece Wright, CB


Utter desolation.

Patrick Willis retired at 30 years of age. He was arguably the best all-around linebacker in football and a 5-time first team All-Pro.

Chris Borland retired do to concussion concerns after one season. He might have won Defensive Rookie of the Year if he hadn’t injured his ankle causing him to miss a few games.

Aldon Smith was released after yet another off the field issue. His life is an unmitigated disaster. Smith was a first team All-Pro his last complete season when he sacked the QB 19.5 times (2012). He racked up 14 sacks in his first season (2011).

Justin Smith is a borderline Hall of Famer, a 5-time Pro Bowler. He retired after 14 seasons on the defensive line.

Utter Despair.

That’s a loss of four of the front seven from the Niners last season.

Chris Culliver appeared in 14 games last season with 15 passes defensed, one forced fumble and four interceptions from the defensive backfield. Perrish Cox started 14 of the 15 games he appeared in last season with five interceptions, 18 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. Both of those starters are gone so who will lineup across from Tramaine Brock?

That’s six of 11 men on the defensive side of the football for the Niners that are no longer with the team. The Niners also lost a total of 38 percent of the snaps from their defense, 52 percent of their interceptions and 40 percent of their snaps. Can you lose more than 50 percent of a starting defense and hope to replicate the success of the previous season? I got news for you. The answer is a resounding no. Just not possible.

Utter confusion.

So who will the team turn to in order to plug some of the holes? About 23 players coming off significant injuries, that’s who. Three were thought to be key.

NaVorro Bowman was a star before destroying his knee a few years back as a first team All-Pro in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (he missed the entire 2014 season trying to heal). Reports suggest that he looks good, but there are also some concerns about where his body is at. There is even a report circulating that suggests it’s a very arduous process to get his body ready to play. “I like to warm up my leg as much as possible and to go out there and have a perfect practice. If it takes three hours, I'll take three hours.” That’s a bit nerving to hear though he has looked solid in preseason work.

Ahmad Brooks has issues pertaining to a sexual battery charges hanging over his head, another of the seemingly never ending Niners off field issues. It sounds likely that he will play in Week 1 after the NFL determined enough had not transpired to warrant a suspension at this time. Names like Aaron Lynch, Corey Lemonier and rookie Eli Harold will be looking to step up. Brooks is about the lone player on the defense that can be counted on to get to the quarterback so his loss will leave a huge hole. Tank Carradine, a 2nd round selection from 2013 (he missed the season with an injury), better get his engine revving as he will now be called on to put some pressure on those passers.

Some other players of note that will have to take on significant roles in 2015 follow.

Another linebacker the team is looking to is Michael Wilhoite who started 16 games last season. He began work late this season after injuring his leg prior to the opening of training camp. The belief is that he should be OK for Week 1.

In the defensive backfield the team will hope that Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Jimmie Ward can step up. Acker was a 6th round selection out of SMU and he missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Reaser was drafted last year but missed the entire season coming back from ACL surgery. Ward was a first round drafted pick in 2014. He was injured in Week 10 of last season and needed foot surgery.

It’s not likely to be pretty folks, not with this motley crew that seemingly loses a new player every week to some off field blunder or an injury.


The Niners last their anchor on the D-line.
The Niners lost their best pass rusher.
The Niners lost their best linebacker.
The Niners last half their defensive backfield.

This is not the Niners defense you’re used to calling out on draft day. At this point there’s no way you can view them as a top-10 defense. In fact, we at Fantasy Alarm don’t even have the Niners as a top-15 team defense. They get to face the Rams twice, and that might be a positive, but they also face the Lions, Falcons, Giants, Packers and Steelers as well. The Niners are nothing other than a matchup play in 2015, and a potentially poor one at that.


Ray Flowers can be heard Monday through Friday at 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).