PLAYERS PRIMED FOR A BREAKOUT
Defensive lineman had two sacks in sparse action as a rookie, not reflective of his massive potential to disrupt offenses alongside fellow 6-foot-7 Oregon product DeForest Buckner.
Coaches want the 2014 first-round draft pick in the defensive backfield full time. Instead of just his nickel-back role, he could start at cornerback and perhaps even make cameos at safety.
Blanked in the sack department as a rookie outside linebacker, he’ll have an immediate chance to flex his new muscles while Aaron Lynch serves a four-game suspension.
OTHERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Leading the league in tackles and reclaiming All-Pro status made for a nice comeback in 2015, but his physical prowess and rebuilt knee look way better entering this season.
With only one touchdown and 36 catches in three seasons, the energetic and versatile Patton could have a breakout year if he locks down a starting spot.
After an unexpected hiatus last season, Davis came back in great shape physically and mentally. If he’s not at his familiar right tackle spot, look for him at right guard.
As the 49ers most experienced and arguably best cornerback, Brock could be matched up against their opponents’ best receiver each week under the new scheme.
A Pro Bowler his rookie season, Reid is determined to get back to that prestigious level. He’s a well-spoken leader who knows a big year is needed for a big contract.
The 49ers didn’t give him an extension to be a modest role player. Celek has shown signs of becoming a bona fide receiver, like his brother Brent has been in Philadelphia.