SANTA CLARA — In 2014, the 49ers offense — especially the passing game — was a considerable mess, but this season will be different.
Or so promises quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is convinced that new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and a recent infusion of talent will fix its many problems of a year ago.
“I think with our new offensive coordinator, with our new quarterback coach [Steve Logan], we’ve cleaned a lot of things up,” Kaepernick said.
That line about cleaning things up not only appears to be a thinly veiled criticism of former offensive coordinator Greg Roman but a leap of faith as well.
After all, Chryst, whom Kaepernick credits will playing a leading role in the turnaround, had some of his fingerprints on what took place last season. The 49ers ranked 30th in passing yards per game with Chryst as their quarterbacks coach.
“I think offensively last year for us, we felt like it was a letdown,” Kaepernick said. “We should be able to do more and we plan on doing more this year.”
When asked to clarify in what ways the offense had improved, Kaepernick explained that it was all about setting players up to be successful. “We put players in a better position to be able to make plays and really use their athletic ability,” he said.
The team has added some athletic ability this offseason. Veteran running back Reggie Bush has joined the mix. So have wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson.
“They bring a lot of speed to the field,” Kaepernick said of the threesome. “They bring a lot of deep vertical threat. That’s something I’m looking forward to this coming season is having that opportunity to take shots.”
The arrivals of Smith and Simpson may allow Kaepernick to attempt more longer throws down the field. There’s also a chance that defenses will be taking more shots at the signal-caller next season.
Throughout his time with the team, Kaepernick has had the benefit of playing behind a veteran offensive line. After free agent left guard Mike Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals and right tackle Anthony Davis retired last week, that’s no longer the case.
“He’s a very talented player,” Kaepernick said of Davis, who started 71 of a possible 80 games in five seasons with the team. “I think every one saw his impact while he was playing and when he was gone. So, it is a loss for us, but it’s next man up.”
The next man up could be Alex Boone, who spent the last four seasons alongside Davis at right guard. When asked about a potential position change, Boone was elusive in his response.
“I think there’s going to be an opportunity for me to play football,” Boone said. “After that, it’s up to the coaches and I’ll leave that decision with them.”
Head coach Jim Tomsula said that newcomer Erik Pears is currently at the top of the depth chart, but he wouldn’t rule Boone out of the conversation.
“Alex, I’m sure at some point, will get work at right tackle,” Tomsula said.
For now, the offensive line remains a work in progress. So, too, does the cleanup process.