Rather than a third coaching change in three years, general manager Trent Baalke could be the next fall-guy if the tailspin continues. Baalke’s fate could rest with his unproductive draft picks, a slew of whom are on the hot seat themselves, including tight end Vance McDonald, converted outside linebacker Tank Carradine and all the mid-to-late-round picks he used on offensive linemen, cornerbacks and wide receivers.


Going 3-5 as Kaepernick’s replacement last season didn’t inspire the masses, but Gabbert has won over his teammates with his leadership. If he wins games this season, he’ll command a crazy new contract as a scheduled free agent.


Leading the league with 20.1 yards per reception in 2015 was somewhat expected in Smith’s first season as the 49ers’ prized free-agent acquisition. But he had a career-low 33 receptions, and that total must be doubled this year as the receiving corps’ undisputed leader.

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