The 49ers’ new X-factor

Of all the new additions to the 49ers this offseason, which addition do you think will have the biggest impact on the team next season, and why?

Here is a list of names to choose from:

Stevie Johnson
Brandon Lloyd
Jonathan Martin
Chris Cook
Antoine Bethea
Blaine Gabbert
Josh Johnson
Jimmie Ward
Carlos Hyde
Marcus Martin
Chris Borland
Bruce Ellington

This article has 52 Comments

  1. Mr. Hyde, because he will be the feature back and an absolute stud in this offense. Duke Ellington is another to watch out for….

    1. Razor,
      Love the moniker “Duke” Ellington, and he has my vote for the surprise contributor this season and beyond.

      I’m not so certain that anyone is going to take carries away from F.Gore. At some point, we will just have to accept the fact that FG is a freak of nature that will need to be carried off the field like an old war-horse that only lives for the fight.

      Many here (including myself) have been singing Gore’ swan-song for the last few years only to have him prove us wrong.
      Frank Gore is ‘the man’ until proven otherwise.

      Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter, Marcus Lattimore, and who ever else come in to wrest the RB duties from FG might have to wait a couple years to really make a move.
      I’ve learned never to count out the old warrior Frank Gore.

      1. I do see Hyde (contributing) gradually becoming the short yardage and goal-line RB, but the lion’s share of the carries will still belong to Frank Gore.

        One thing to consider when hoping Kaep improves as a pocket passer is the fact that he will need solid blocking from the RB position.
        Frank Gore not only is our best blocking RB, but perhaps one of the best in the league.

        If Hyde can learn this highly critical facet (blocking) of the game he could become a big surprise this season.

        But for now, my big surprise contributor is B.Ellington.

        Also, if Ellington can leap-frog Stevie Johnson during the season it could make Johnson expendable going into 2015 and give the 49ers more money to use in re-signing Crabtree going forward.

        The success of B.Ellington could prove profitable not only on the field but could have huge implications in Crabtree’ future as a 49er.

  2. 1- Chris Borland. His ability to step in for the rehabilitating Bowman and play well will be crucial to the teams’ success early in the year. Once Bowman returns he’ll help give reliable depth at the position.

    1a-Carlos Hyde. We haven’t had the ability to punch in the ball for a score when we get to short yardage in the redzone. The team regrettably tried to fill this role with Brandon Jacobs a couple seasons ago and well let’s just say we got more value out of drafting Glenn Coffee then we did signing Jacobs. Not having the wrecking ball type back to knock it in from short yardage for a score or for a first down has certainly had an effect on our red zone production. If he can produce right away I expect to see a few less FG’s being kicked this season and a few more PAT’s instead.

  3. After beating out Wilhoite to become the starter after strong preseason play, Chris Borland leads the team in tackles during the season causing quite the dilemma when Bowman is ready to return.

  4. Ward.
    Hands down.
    The rest are mere role players.
    If he blossoms into what they hope he can be, he’s the missing link on that Defense.
    Then, watch out!

    1. I agree Kauai, but for me it is Bethea #1, then Ward.

      Whoever wins the #3 WR role could be an X-factor on offense.

      1. I was thinking that at first too.
        But you have a Pro Bowler in Reid already in place.
        And Bethea is quality vet and I think he’ll plug right in and be a leader.
        But we’re talking ‘X Factor’ and to me, that means a special talent.
        I’m hoping Ward is just that.

      2. Scooter, isn’t a X-factor an unknown quantity that becomes known unexpectedly? I think Bethea is a pretty known quantity in the NFL and that is why the 49ers signed him.

        1. Grant’s question was “Of all the new additions to the 49ers this offseason, which addition do you think will have the biggest impact on the team next season, and why?”

          I think Bethea will have the biggest impact on the team as he will provide a safety that is good in coverage, that they can use to cover TEs while Bowman is out, but is also a strong run defender. Usually Willis fills the role of covering TEs, but he’ll be taking over Bowman’s role. Without a safety that can take over that coverage responsibility the 49ers could have some trouble.

          1. Scooter, I guess the title of the article, “The 49ers’ new X-factor” made me think it was about new additions that were possible x-factors, lol.

          2. I have to disagree with this. Bethea graded out signifigantly lower than Whitner did in coverager per everything I have read. This concerns me greatly, especially when he will not provide the intimidation factor Whitner did.

            1. This is where pass coverage grades can come in handy but can also be a tad misleading. Yes, in terms of passer rating “given up” based on film review, Whitner was ahead of Bethea. But that fails to recognise that Bethea was only targeted 33 times all season (just twice a game), giving up 22 catches.

              Whitner only gave up 25 catches, but was targeted 48 times (3 times per game). He held up pretty well when targeted, but the fact is that Bethea was better able to force teams to look elsewhere. The reason is simple, Bethea is far better than Whitner at sticking with his man in coverage, and has better range.

              1. Good Information Scooter.
                Could it also be skewed however, becuase teams were often trying to catch up to SF so they passed more against us than teams did against Indy?

              2. That’s a good point shoup, and yes, it most likely is.

                I’ve seen some footage of Bethea’s lapses in coverage last year and they typically were a result of poor footwork in deep coverage – taking one or two false steps which let a receiver get a step on him deep. Its strange because that is a mental lapse, but he is typically a savvy guy in coverage. Prior to last season he was considered one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL. I think having more talent around him will help him considerably.

  5. Your list is too long. The only ones on the list should be

    Stevie Johnson
    Brandin Lloyd
    Carlos Hyde
    Bruce Ellington

    As far as WR’s go, we cannot let any one of these receivers go because Seattle will swoop them up fast. They are all dangerous WR’s. No matter who they line up as the number 2 in three WR sets, the one that will benefit the most is Boldin. I’m really fired up about this WR group. I just hope that Kaep learns to not just have eyes for Crabs.

    As far as RB’s go, I hope that Harb’s puts loyalty aside and distributes carries according to ability and not loyalty. Hyde is more punishing than Gore and can move a pile.
    Hunter is quicker and faster to the edges than Gore.
    Lattimore TBD.
    All three of these RB’s can take it to the house in open space, Gore no longer can. If we are to build a team specifically to beat Seattle, Gore cannot be the premier back in those games. If he is, it is because Harbs is more stubborn than we thought.

  6. Good question, Grant….I’m casting my lot with Brandon Lloyd. I didn’t like it when we traded him the first time, and at least now we have some people noticing his catching ability, his speed off the LOS, and his separation. We’ve got plenty of guys who can run the ball….let’s get a passing game going to keep the DB’s honest.

  7. Can I throw another name out there Grant? Of course I can, it’s a blog. I would like to mention Derek Carrier. I’m not saying he will have a big impact but I would vote for him to biggest suprise impact. We know his story but he can be the big target field stretcher the 49ers need. I’m hoping Vernon’s holdout last just a few weeks longer so Carrier can get more reps. I think he has great potential to be an athletic/fast tight end and play the receiver role that D Walker had when he was here.

  8. 49ers just signed Joe Staley to a new 2 year extension. Maybe this will get Alex Boone to drag his butt into HQ to negotiate. Baalke said “This extension reflects our philosophy of investing in our core players.” Get to camp Alex! You aren’t getting squat until you report!

  9. I think you should include Carradine and Lattimore in your list as well Grant. Although they aren’t new additions, this is the first year where they will be able to compete.

    1. That seems like a legit request especially since Grant’s poll question of who will have more sacks was between Carradine and Cowboy and it is Carradine’s first season competing as you stated.

        1. Brotha, no, I missed that. I saw him play a long time ago on the same venue as Taj Mahal I believe. Sorry to hear he passed.

  10. Cook and Bethea are the two who seem most likely to start. Of those, Bethea’s contribution will be greater. If the criteria is for surprise for X Factor, then maybe Lloyd.

  11. Antonie Bethea. Our seconday only has one full year starter returning from last season in Eric Reid, but he probably isn’t ready to take on the mantle of being the quarterback in the secondary, so Bethea will have to assume that role until Reid is ready. Having a savvy vet like him in the secondary will definitely benefit Reid, but it should also help out Brock and whoever the other CBs may be.

  12. Antoine Bethea based on his experience + he fills a need. Then Ward or Borland.

    Ward has the ability to rethink the whole slot cover role. A solid tackler with the agility to cover slot… plus great special teams skills as a gunner.

      1. Nah…he’ll be standing.
        Somebody’s got to hold the clipboard.
        Can you do that from a sitting position?

    1. I have high hopes for Ward, but I’ll happily stand with you in voting for Tank Carradine.

      He was my draft crush last year. Ready to see it pay off.

  13. I’m going with Chris Cook. Niners have a way of taking DBs who are under the radar and making them solid contributers. Walt Harris, Carlos Rogers, and Perish Cox.

  14. My vote for the X-factor is the new stadium. I think being in a new hi-tech place like that will energize the team and the fans.

  15. If Brandon Lloyde makes the team, then I say he is the x-factor.

    Basically he left the game on a high note. Seemed to really figure it out after leaving Washington. If he is in shape and competitive then I will want a chance to play. I don’t see him sticking around on the team as a 4,5,6 WR. We can use that roster spot for other young players. I suspect he would be cut or traded so he can play football.

    Thus, if he stays I think he could be a huge suprise and possibley take playing time away from Stevie, Ellington, Patton… and even Boldin.

    * My comment on Boldin is the same thought process as last year. I think he should play in the slot more and be the #3 WR. Someone needs to step up and grab the WR starting job by the horns.

    1. @shawnrhod

      It’s certainly nothing that I would wish or hope for, but as I mentioned earlier, I think that
      Anquan Boldin has used up about 81/2 of his lives. He has been one of the very best, but I think that father time (and a lot of hits) have taken their toll.

  16. Carlos Hyde, definitely. This guy is a complete back who could be a top 5 fantasy producer in year 1 if you make him the feature back.

  17. Im surprised so many people like Hyde. He reminds me of Brandon Jacobs… a big running back who doesnt run behind his pads. Hes devistating with a head of steam but if met at the LOS he gets pushed back becuase he runs upright and lacks burst.
    Scout remarked that he was great on saturdays but it was obvious he didnt put in the work on Monday through Friday. In otherwords hes nothing like Frank Gore… I expect Lattimore to win the backup job and eventually replace gore when healthy.

    1. Interesting. I think Grant mentioned Hyde’s high pad level. I like Hyde’s speed, agility and receiving. His 3 negative yardage plays in over 180 snaps last season also stand out.

      Lattimore has sneaky good goal line abilities. I think people are forgetting Hunter. He will end the season as 2 (or possibly the 1) back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *