Top 5 questions facing 2016 49ers heading into Week 1
It's go time...
Coach Chip Kelly takes over a team that most expect to be among the worst in the NFL this season. The 49ers are the consensus pick to finish last in a strong NFC West. Kelly is the third 49ers head coach of the past three seasons. He brings a new style to the organization, but are the players assembled a good match for his system? -- Matt Maiocco
5) Baalke's scorecard
This season will provide some answers for the roster GM Trent Baalke has pieced together. Is there a nucleus in place for future success? This season could answer that question. The play of recent draft picks, such as Trent Brown, Carlos Hyde, Quinton Patton, Vance McDonald, Tank Carradine, Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, Eric Reid and many more, will go a long way toward determining whether it’s time for CEO Jed York to consider a new course of action with the personnel department. -- Matt Maiocco
4) No-name receivers
The 49ers brought 12 wide receivers to training camp, expecting some of the youngsters would stand above the crowd. That did not happen. Veterans Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater were acquired for virtually nothing in trades late in the preseason. Now, Kerley is the starting slot receiver and Streater opens as the third outside option behind starters Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton. On paper, this group appears to lack reliable and dynamic targets in the passing game. -- Matt Maiocco
3) Where's the pass rush?
The 49ers have a lot of young talent on defense, but there are questions about the most important roles in their nickel defense. Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold and Tank Carradine will be the team’s outside linebackers for the first four games while Aaron Lynch serves a four-game suspension. DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead will also be asked to supply some pass rush from the inside. If the 49ers can’t get consistent pressure on the quarterback, it’s going to be another long season. -- Matt Maiocco
2) Quarterback questions
Kelly announced the opening-week depth chart of Blaine Gabbert as the starting QB, with Colin Kaepernick as the backup. Christian Ponder, as the No. 3 QB, will not suit up for the first game. The onus is on Gabbert to play well and retain his job. If Gabbert and the offense struggle, all bets are off. Kaepernick has not regained all of his weight and strength. He remains on standby, in case he is forced into action. -- Matt Maiocco
1) Does Chip’s system translate?
Kelly inherited a team that went 4-12 a season earlier under Andy Reid. The Eagles went 10-6 in Kelly’s first two seasons before the crash-and-burn of 2015 resulted in his firing. The 49ers’ coaching staff should be better than a year ago under Jim Tomsula. But will that be enough to make the 49ers respectable and competitive? The 49ers’ high-tempo, fast-pace offense must convert third downs at a clip of around 40 percent in order to prevent their defense from being overworked and worn down. -- Matt Maiocco