SAN FRANCISCO (4-12)
OPEN CAMP: July 27, Santa Clara, California
LAST YEAR: Season went awry early with QB Jimmy Garoppolo and RB Jerick McKinnon going down with season-ending knee injuries in September. That led to 1-7 start before Nick Mullens took over at QB and salvaged three wins in second half. Defense set records for futility with two INTs, seven takeaways, while offense had 31 turnovers. That was recipe for failure. One bright spot was emergence of second-year TE George Kittle, who set record for most receiving yards in season at position.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DEs Dee Ford and DE Nick Bosa, LB Kwon Alexander, RB Tevin Coleman, WRs Deebo Samuel and Jordan Matthews, CB Jason Verrett.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR Pierre Garcon, P Bradley Pinion, DE Cassius Marsh.
CAMP NEEDS: Garoppolo and McKinnon were supposed to be centerpieces of offense last season before injuries, so making sure they are healthy and ready for opener will be key in camp. Other big question on offense will be figuring out top receivers for unit that lacked playmakers one year ago. Dante Pettis showed flashes as rookie in 2018 and has inside track at one job. Samuel being counted on in slot, with other wideout position open competition with speedster Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Matthews all in mix.
EXPECTATIONS: After 10 wins in first two seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan, pressure's on 49ers to become contender in Year 3. Healthy season from Garoppolo, McKinnon should provide boost to offense. Defensive line should be strongest unit on team with Ford, Bosa joining former first-round picks DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas. Questions remain in secondary, where second-year CB Ahkello Witherspoon struggled opposite veteran Richard Sherman.