2014 Outlook: Late in his career, Gore just keeps defying logic. In his age-30 season, he submitted his third straight year of 16 games played and 8 or more rushing TDs. The Niners have preserved Gore by essentially removing him from the game plan in passing situations. And now players like Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore threaten to assume more of the early-down workload too. The touchdowns still figure to be there for a bruiser on a good offense, but it wouldn't be a shock to see Gore's yardage slip.
2014 Outlook: After missing the first 11 games of 2013 with an Achilles tear, Crabtree showed some rust in the final five games of the regular season, averaging just 6.4 fantasy points. But he put on a show in the playoffs. His 11 catches of 10 or more yards -- and four gains of 20 or more -- prorate to top-10-caliber totals over the course of a 16-game season. It was further proof that when Crabtree is healthy, he's the primary target of QB Colin Kaepernick.
2014 Outlook: Big Vern was the No. 2 TE in fantasy last year, quite a rebound from his No. 15 ranking in 2012. It turns out all those theories suggesting Davis and Colin Kaepernick couldn't coexist were as ridiculous as they sounded. The duo seemed to like each other just fine inside the red zone, where Davis scored 9 of his 13 TDs. In a run-heavy offense with Michael Crabtree healthy and Stevie Johnson aboard, we'd argue that Davis won't be a top source of yardage or receptions. But the possibility of double-digit TDs keeps him elite.
2014 Outlook: Kaepernick was fourth among quarterbacks with 524 rushing yards, backing up his reputation as a terrific ground gainer. The surprise, though, was some of his passing metrics. Kaepernick is among the few quarterbacks who produce big on downfield passes (38 fantasy points on stretch vertical throws, ranked ninth) while still expertly protecting the ball (1.6 percent bad-decision rate). Were it not for a slow start -- he scored single-digit points in three of his first five games -- Kaepernick would have been a top-five QB last year. He certainly has that potential this year.
2014 Outlook: Boldin had a late-career revival last season, putting up his highest number of targets (128) and yards (1,179) since 2006. And he did it with a nice variety, scoring 86 fantasy points on short passes (seventh in the NFL) and compiling 593 yards on vertical throws (21st). So why do we have him ranked so low? For starters, the 49ers aren't going to throw the ball a lot; they ranked last in the NFL last season with 417 pass attempts. And Boldin's opportunities will only shrink with Michael Crabtree back to 100 percent, the addition of Stevie Johnson and the presence of Vernon Davis, coming off a 13-TD season.
2014 Outlook: The Niners' defense revolves around perhaps the game's two best inside linebackers: Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Yes, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, with 37' sacks since 2012, are fantastic pass rushers, but their abilities are accentuated by the do-everything ILB duo. Unfortunately, Bowman tore up his knee in the NFC championship game and probably won't be ready until midseason. Even with shaky corners, a downgrade at safety (Antoine Bethea replaces Donte Whitner) and a possible Aldon Smith suspension looming, this D/ST will be starting quality. Just don't overreach for it on draft day.
2014 Outlook: After three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Johnson exploded out of the gate for 17 catches, 236 yards and 2 TDs in his first three games. But as injuries mounted, he totaled only 35-361-1 the rest of the way. The most disturbing metric of all was Johnson's 33 fantasy points on vertical passes -- half of his 2011 and 2012 totals. Working in an offense with Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin could take some coverage pressure off Johnson, but it will also limit his workload.
2014 Outlook: After an abysmal start, Dawson went on the biggest tear of his 15-year career down the stretch. He mustered only 16 points in Weeks 1-4, missing three of his six field goal attempts. Then he promptly led all kickers in fantasy points (138) from Week 5 to Week 17, including eight straight double-digit games starting in Week 10. At age 39, Dawson shouldn't be considered among the elite fantasy kickers. But San Francisco's offense could see a bump with a full season of Michael Crabtree. That makes Dawson a nice, albeit slightly risky, pick among second-tier kickers.
2014 Outlook: Considered by many to be the top RB in the 2014 draft, Hyde landed in an awful spot for his short-term fantasy value. Frank Gore is still chugging along for the 49ers, Kendall Hunter remains by the Bay and Marcus Lattimore is trying to return from injury. A 230-pound thumper with one-cut ability, Hyde, who had 35 TDs in his final two seasons at Ohio State, evokes comparisons with Stephen Davis. Someday he might be a backfield bell cow -- and he should be a first-round rookie pick in dynasty leagues -- but this year he can't even lay claim to clear handcuff status.
2014 Outlook: After three seasons, it's probably time to admit that the Niners don't view Hunter as a future full-time back. That's a shame. Sure, he's on the smaller side (5-7, 199), but he doesn't run like a little guy. His 1.83 yards after contact over the past three years is a better mark than those of Arian Foster, Steven Jackson and, yes, Frank Gore. Nevertheless, the 49ers will ride Gore again in 2013, and if the 31-year-old falters, Hunter will have to fight rookie Carlos Hyde and rehabbing Marcus Lattimore for touches. That makes it tough to trust Hunter even as a handcuff.
2014 Outlook: After the 2010 college football season, Lattimore looked like a future top-10 pick, having run through SEC defenses with a rare size/speed/moves combo. Unfortunately, he tore up both knees before he could skip to the pros, and the second incident was a horrific shredding of his right ACL, MCL and PCL. After sitting out his rookie year with the Niners, Lattimore is reportedly running well in a straight line, though whether he'll ever recapture his elusiveness is a question. Frank Gore, 31, is still the bell cow by the Bay, and Kendall Hunter is in the backup mix. But the 49ers want to ease in Lattimore too. Fully healthy, he and rookie Carlos Hyde look like the RBs of the future.