24. San Francisco 49ers
The departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh was immediately followed by several of his former players including Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore, just to name a few. Quarterback
Colin Kaepernick lost two of his favorite receivers in Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson, and lost the 49ers all time leading rusher Frank Gore in the backfield. Kaepernick still has veteran receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin to throw to. The defense looks beaten down following the massive amount of departures over the offseason. I can’t see the 49ers as a playoff team this year.
23. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers were pretty much average last season. However, the departure of longtime running back DeAngelo Williams puts the back in Jonathan Stewart’s hands for the first time. Stewart has missed 20 games in the past three seasons and is an unreliable option at the starting running back position. This means the offense will have to really more on quarterback Cam Newton to get the job done.
Although he has evolved into one of the games most dynamic quarterbacks, he lost offensive linemen Byron Bell and Kevin Matthews, which may affect his ability to throw in the pocket. The Panthers defense, lead by star linebacker Luke Kuechly, looked terrific last season, and the additions of Kurt Coleman, Jason Trusnik and Charles Tillman will help improve an already solid defensive unit.