How the San Francisco 49ers completely collapsed in a nightmare 8 months

The San Francisco 49ers released star pass rusher Aldon Smith after he was arrested and charged with hit-and-run, DUI, and vandalism in California on Friday. It was his fifth arrest in three years.

The Smith situation is the latest hit in what has been a disastrous eight months for the team.

Heading into the 2014 season, the 49ers had reached the NFC Championship Game the past three seasons, including a 2012 Super Bowl appearance.

The season was a profound disappointment. The team ended up losing four of their last five games, and finished the year with a 8-8 record. Their starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, went from being called a star to hearing rumours he would soon be traded. Their brash head coach, Jim Harbaugh, who almost led them to a Super Bowl in his second season, was essentially fired just hours after the 49ers regular season finale (the press release stated they “mutually agreed to part ways,” but Harbaugh would later confirm he did not want to leave the team).

And that was just the beginning.

The 49ers are currently in the midst of the one of the most turbulent off-seasons in recent memory. As if the Harbaugh loss wasn’t enough, they had an unusual number of players retire in their primes and lost many others in free agency. 

In June, SI’s Peter King noted that the 49ers lost 14 of the 25 most important members of the organisation after Harbaugh was fired in December. That number is now up to 15 with Smith’s release, and only two members of the defence that started the 2013 Super Bowl are still on the team. Here’s who’s gone:

  • Jim Harbaugh, head coach: Fired/mutually agreed to part ways, now head coach at the University of Michigan
  • Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator: Fired, now the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears
  • Greg Roman, offensive coordinator: Left to take the same job with the Buffalo Bills
  • Brad Seely, special teams coach: Left to take the same job with the Oakland Raiders
  • Patrick Willis, starting linebacker: Retired
  • Michael Crabtree, starting wide receiver: Left in free agency to join the Oakland Raiders
  • Mike Iupati, starting guard: Left in free agency to join the Arizona Cardinals
  • Anthony Davis, starting tackle: Retired/sabbatical
  • Chris Borland, starting linebacker: Retired
  • Justin Smith, starting defensive end: Retired
  • Frank Gore, starting running back: Left in free agency to join the Indianapolis Colts
  • Andy Lee, punter: Traded to the Cleveland Browns
  • Perrish Cox, starting corner back: Left in free agency to join the Tennessee Titans
  • Chris Culliver, starting corner back: Left in free agency to join the Washington Redskins
  • Aldon Smith, starting pass rusher: Released

With Aldon Smith’s arrest being just the latest thing to go wrong for the 49ers, fans and experts wondered just how big of a debacle the team’s off-season has been:

Vegas has the 49ers winning 6.5 games. Only four teams are predicted to be worse:

With such a disastrous off-season, and large roster and coaching turnover, new head coach Jim Tomsula definitely has his work cut out for him this season.

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