Here’s who I predict will win the following distinctions in 2016. Please leave your predictions as well.
49ers Offensive MVP: RB Carlos Hyde.
Hyde is by far the best skill player on the offense. He’ll win this award if he stays healthy for at least half of the season.
49ers Defensive MVP: LOLB Aaron Lynch.
Lynch is tremendous young talent who played much better at home than on the road the first two seasons of his career. Next season, he will play well anywhere and record at least 10 sacks.
49ers Offensive Rookie of the Year: LG Joshua Garnett.
Garnett will be Hyde’s primary lead blocker and probably will play every single offensive snap as a rookie.
49ers Defensive Rookie of the Year: RDT DeForest Buckner.
Buckner probably will receive high grades from Pro Football Focus as an interior pass-rushing specialist off the bench.
Most Improved Player on the 49ers Offense: TE Blake Bell.
Chip Kelly likes to feature a move tight end in his passing game. Garrett Celek isn’t a move tight end, and Vance McDonald isn’t reliable enough to be featured.
Most Improved Player on the 49ers Defense: LDE Arik Armstead.
Armstead probably will start, unlike last season, and record at least six sacks.
Biggest Disappointment on the 49ers Offense: WR DeAndre Smelter.
I doubt Smelter will play much after spending the past year rehabbing a torn ACL.
Biggest Disappointment on the 49ers Defense: RDE Tank Carradine.
I doubt Carradine will play much even though he lost 20 pounds to try to regain the quickness he lost after tearing his ACL.
Biggest Surprise on the 49ers Offense: SWR Eric Rogers.
Once Bruce Ellington inevitably pulls a muscle, I expect Rogers will become the starting slot receiver and keep the job through the end of the season.
Biggest Surprise on the 49ers Defense: ROLB Ahmad Brooks.
Playing next to Buckner on passing downs will help Brooks immensely. I expect he’ll have his best season since 2013.
Receptions Leader on the 49ers Offense: RB Shaun Draughn.
Head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins both like throwing to running backs, and Draughn is the best pass-catching back on the team.
Interceptions Leader on the 49ers Defense: LCB Tramaine Brock.
Brock should be healthier than last season when he intercepted three passes.