Things were looking up for Charlotte football in the season's early weeks. After sitting at 3-1 through September, the 49ers looked poised to be in a bowl game come late December. Through a combination of defensive struggles and an inconsistent offense at times, Charlotte only managed to win two more games the remainder of the season and ended up ineligible for a bowl game.
So, what really went wrong for the 49ers?
Even in their early success, the 49ers were giving up lots of points as well as yards. They gave up over 200 rushing yards to Duke's running back, Mateo Durant, in their opening game of the season. Charlotte persevered and found a way to win this game, but it was glaring to the analysts that something was off.
The 49ers had talented defensive linemen such as Jallar Holley, Kofi Wardlow, Mikel Horton and Markees Watts. Sure, the team did not have Holley until a few games in and didn't have Horton until the latter part of the year, but talent was the issue. It must have been a scheme.
Through their first five games, the 49ers gave up two 200 yard games to two different running backs in Durant from Duke and Chase Brown from Illinois. So, the run defense was an ongoing issue for most of the year.
Another thing that hurt the 49ers was some inconsistent play from their field general Chris Reynolds. He had games where he looked like a top quarterback in the conference, and in some games, he appeared uncomfortable and did not perform to the level many have come to expect from the fifth-year senior.
There have already been a few coaching staff changes just one week removed from the end of the season.
—Eddie Hicks, cornerbacks coach: Hicks coached with Will Healy at Austin Peay when he was the head coach there. When Healy came to Charlotte, Hicks also came along and coached the cornerbacks for the previous three seasons. In the latter part of the 49ers' season, the team gave up nearly 300 passing yards per game and finished the year by giving up 260 per game. This doesn't speak well for the production of the cornerbacks. A change in this position group was needed moving forward.
—Brandon Cooper, safeties coach: The safeties for the 49ers showed flashes throughout the season, but in the end, gave up several big plays on third and long situations. There were times where there would be miscommunication between the safeties and corners, and guys would not know their assignments. Again, another move Healy must have felt needed.
Defensive coordinator, Marcus West's future has seen much speculation. As of now, he is still on the staff, and no plans of demoting him or letting him go have been released.
The season showed great promise, and the 49ers had a lot of talent that played well at times during the year but never seemed to play a complete game. Several routing losses by their opponents in the latter half of the season, Charlotte did not end the year the way they wanted to, and this is an understatement.
There is a long offseason ahead, but no one has announced that they are transferring from the program. As a bonus, several of their key players have announced that they will use their extra year of eligibility, such as defensive end Markees Watts, cornerback Trey Creamer, linebacker Tyler Murray, cornerback Geovante Howard, to name a few.
Healy looks to revamp his staff and team for his fourth season at the helm next year, as his moves have already shown.