While Colin Kaepernick will play a significant role in the success—or failure—of the 49ers offense in 2014, we have to make sure to evaluate the entire picture.
Let us start by looking at the numbers from the 2013 season.
We know San Francisco is a run-first team. The 49ers ranked No. 3 in the NFL a year ago in total rushing yards (2,201). After the additions of Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, that number should be consistent with what we saw a year ago.
But in terms of the passing game, San Francisco was less than impressive. The 49ers boasted the 30th-ranked passing attack in the league—totaling a mere 2,979 yards, just above the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.
Granted, San Francisco's pass offense lacked depth, especially after losing wideouts Michael Crabtree and Quinton Patton for much of the regular season.
Additionally, we can find some fault in the play-calling of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who received plenty of criticism from pundits over the course of the year.
So what changes in 2014?
We've covered the maturation and development of Kaepernick already, so let's bank on that happening. In addition, the 49ers have bolstered the receiving corps significantly during the offseason.
First, San Francisco re-signed Anquan Boldin. The 49ers then signed veteran wideout Brandon Lloyd to a one-year deal. Also acquired were receivers Stevie Johnson and rookie Bruce Ellington in the hopes of adding a bit more speed to San Francisco's passing attack.
The remaining question is how this unit will all come together.
Let's get the obvious information out of the way.
The 49ers remain a power-run team. There should not be much of a shift away from that philosophy, especially when considering the additions of runners like Hyde. But the added weapons at receiver give San Francisco more options as pointed out by Alex Carson of Niners Nation:
Smart money seems to be on Jim Harbaugh not getting away from the things that have made him a successful coach, but then he's not had these sort of weapons for a potent aerial attack before ... It's easy to see them sticking with their bread and butter, but there's also reason to think that the stacked backfield will only make the passing attack that much more dangerous and tough to predict and stop.
Okay, so the running game will help set up the passing game, especially when considering the depth San Francisco has in its receiving corps.
But that depth creates questions unto itself.
We should expect to see a lot of Boldin and Crabtree throughout the season. The 49ers love their veterans, and Kaepernick already has an established rapport with both receivers. That secures the Nos. 1 and 2 guys on the depth chart.
The slot receiver position is a little tougher to evaluate and predict.
The 49ers have essentially three wideouts who can all contribute at slot: Patton, Ellington and Johnson. Lloyd may also factor into this equation.
Patton, San Francisco's fourth-rounder a year ago, missed much of 2013. But he and Kaepernick did develop some chemistry during the preseason last season, and he also came up with some key grabs down the stretch. The 49ers obviously have not given up on him.
Ellington doesn't offer much in terms of size—5'9" and 196 pounds—but he does provide excellent speed, which is an aspect the 49ers lacked from the position a year ago.
But Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News suggests that Ellington is exactly what the 49ers need when it comes to adding this element.
Yet there is always the possibility that a fourth-round, undersized wideout does not translate into a practical threat at the NFL level. Being placed on the NFI list also hinders his development. Here is where the acquisition of Johnson makes some sense.
The six-year pro netted more than 1,000 receiving yards for the Buffalo Bills between 2010 and 2012 and does possess the ability to make big plays. Yet an injury hindered his 2013 campaign, and there are reasons to believe that he will not be fully healthy at the start of the 2014 season.
Thick competition for slot receiver is another hindrance to Johnson, who may lose that battle, according to Grant Cohn of The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Then there is Lloyd. At 33 years old, Lloyd still could make the roster based on his veteran and red-zone prowess alone, but he'll have to continue proving himself in training camp for that to be the case.
While this competition is a good thing, the fact remains that all the pieces need to come together in the correct order.
This all boils down to play-calling. As stated, we should not expect San Francisco to suddenly become a pass-happy team all of a sudden. Last year, the 49ers were last in the league when it came to utilizing three wide-receiver sets according to ESPN.
Roman has suggested, via NFL Media's Alex Flanagan (h/t Marc Sessler of NFL.com), that the 49ers offense will be more dynamic in 2014. Much of this will hinder on how the group of wideouts formulates as well as what transpires with Vernon Davis' holdout.
On top of that, there needs to be a developed chemistry between Kaepernick and his receivers.
We know this is already established between Boldin and Crabtree. Patton is pretty far along based on what he did last season. The rest remains in question.
Training camp provides the final glimpse into how NFL teams come together in the weeks before the preseason.
Like any other franchise, the 49ers have a plethora of tough questions to answer as they prepare themselves for a difficult and demanding challenge that calls for nothing less than a Super Bowl title.
In the coming days and weeks, we'll know more about how this roster is shaping up and which players are rising to the challenge.
Until then, all we can do is try to speculate what will happen.
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Be sure to check out his entire archive on 49ers news, insight and analysis.
Follow @PeterMcShots on Twitter.