San Francisco 49ers: The 5 Most Irreplaceable Players in 2014

San Francisco 49ers: The 5 Most Irreplaceable Players in 2014

Colin Kaepernick Vernon Davis
Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports

Coming off three straight trips deep into the playoffs, the 49ers are looking to continue their quest for a sixth Lombardi Trophy in 2014. The following five players are irreplaceable for their hopes of reaching this goal.

5. Phil Dawson

Phil Dawson San Francisco 49ers
Jeff Hanisch - USA Today Sports

5. Phil Dawson

Phil Dawson San Francisco 49ers
Jeff Hanisch - USA Today Sports

Having a kicker as an irreplaceable player may seem strange, but anyone who has watched the 49ers over the last three years should understand how important the kicker is to putting up points for a red-zone challenged offense. Dawson is coming off a 2013 season in which he set a franchise record with 27 straight made field goals. He also hit on 35 of his final 36 attempts.

4. Kendall Hunter

Kendall Hunter San Francisco 49ers
Jeremy Brevard - USA Today Sports

4. Kendall Hunter

Kendall Hunter San Francisco 49ers
Jeremy Brevard - USA Today Sports

Hunter is the only running back behind Frank Gore with proven success in the NFL, having averaged 4.6 yards per carry as the primary backup over the last three seasons. Hunter is coming off an excellent offseason camp and has shown flashes that suggest he can carry the load if Gore goes down.

3. Justin Smith

Justin Smith San Francisco 49ers
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

3. Justin Smith

Justin Smith San Francisco 49ers
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

When Justin Smith went down with a triceps injury near the end of the 2012 season, the effect on the 49ers pass rush and defense was evident. Over the last five games that season including the playoffs they gave up an average of 29 points per game. With only Tank Carradine, who is yet to take a snap in the NFL behind Smith, his health is vital to the 49ers championship hopes.

2. Patrick Willis

Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

2. Patrick Willis

Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

With Navarro Bowman set to miss at least the first half of the season while recuperating from a knee injury suffered in the NFC Title Game, the 49ers must have Willis on the field. While he is not the player that he once was, the former All-Pro is needed to solidify the middle of the defense during Bowman's absence.

1. Vernon Davis

Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers
Mike Dinovo - USA Today Sports

1. Vernon Davis

Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers
Mike Dinovo - USA Today Sports

The San Francisco 49ers proved in 2013 that they need Davis for their offense and Colin Kaepernick to function. Davis missed all of the game against Indianapolis and most of the game against Carolina, both 49ers losses. These two games are easily the two worst performances of Kaepernicks' career, which included only 46 yards passing against the Panthers. Without Davis, the 49ers are likely a six-to-seven win team.