San Francisco 49ers
6-10 record (4th in NFC West)
20th in points scored, 25th in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 20th (19th on offense, 26th on defense)
The 49ers were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year with new head coach Kyle Shanahan in his first year as an NFL head coach. However, once the offensive guru got Jimmy Garoppolo via a trade with the Patriots, the 49ers saw an immediate turnaround.
After averaging just 17.0 points per game through the first 11 games, San Francisco suddenly averaged 28.8 points per game with Garoppolo starting. A new era of 49ers football had begun.
Key free agent additions: C Weston Richburg,
RB Jerick McKinnon (injured), CB Richard Sherman, Edge rusher Jeremiah Attaochu (cut)
Key losses: RB Carlos Hyde, G Brandon Fusco, RT Trent Brown, C Daniel Kilgore, S Eric Reid
2018 NFL draft picks:
Round 1, 9 overall - OT Mike McGlinchey
Round 2, Pick 44 - WR Dante Pettis
Round 3, Pick 70 - LB Fred Warner
Round 3, Pick 95 - S Tarvarius Moore
Round 4, Pick 128 - DE Kentavius Street
Round 5, Pick 142 - CB D.J. Reed
Round 6, Pick 184 - S Marcell Harris
Round 7, Pick 233 - DT Julian Taylor
Round 7, Pick 240 - WR Richie James
It’s clear one of the biggest goals for the 49ers this offseason was to completely transform their offensive line. San Francisco is just returning two starters: left tackle Joe Staley and former Lions guard Laken Tomlinson. In their place, the Niners have a new right tackle in their first-round pick Mike McGlinchey, while adding new center Weston Richburg (72.7 PFF grade in 2017)—a three-year starter with the Giants coming off a season-ending concussion, which was arguably just a demotion.
It makes sense as an area of focus for the Niners, as they allowed the 10th-most sacks last year and averaged just 4.1 yards per carry (17th).
Their defensive additions are headlined by adding veteran corner Richard Sherman, who should nicely pair with youngster Ahkello Witherspoon.
Outlook for 2018
Vegas win total: 8.5 wins
Niners Nation’s take: OVER 8.5 wins
I’m a big fat homer, and will not deny it. I don’t know if it will be enough to make the playoffs in a stacked NFC, but I think we see Jimmy Garoppolo build on last year’s strong finish to the season. If Richard Sherman can round back into his pre-Achilles form, this defense could take a big step forward in 2018. The big key will be the pass rush, but if they can scrap together a decent pass rush, they’ll be in good shape to get over 8.5 wins.
2018 season thus far
Week 1: Loss to Vikings, 16-24
The Vikings handled the 49ers pretty well, but San Francisco would’ve had a shot in this game had it not been for some pretty bad mistakes. Alfred Morris fumbled at the goal line late in the first half, and as the Niners were about to get the ball back with well over two minutes remaining, they jumped offsides on a fourth-and-1, giving the Vikings an extra set of downs to burn an additional minute off the clock.
The Niners not only lost the game, but some key players that could affect Sunday’s game against the Lions. Starting with that revamped offensive line, starting right guard Mike Person left the game with an injury, and his backup, Joshua Garnett, was also carted off. As of Thursday morning, neither had practiced this week.
Additionally, the 49ers are in trouble at linebacker. Reuben Foster remains suspended, while Dekoda Watson, Brock Coyle and Malcolm Smith are all ailing. As a result, the 49ers signed veteran journeyman Terence Garvin, who has started just four games since 2013.
The 49ers revamped offense didn’t look all that great last week, but it’s always hard to tell if that has more to do with San Francisco or the Vikings’ superb defense.
That being said, the 49ers had two standout players from Week 1, one on offense, one on defense. Offensively, tight end George Kittle made a statement with 90 yards on five catches. He very well could turn out to be one of the best tight ends in the league this year, but also don’t sleep on rookie Dante Pettis, who had two catches for 61 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
Defensively, it’s all about edge rusher DeForest Buckner. The former first-round pick had 2.5 sacks in his season debut and added an additional tackle for loss. Lions head coach Matt Patricia gushed about Buckner this week.
“Buckner is really coming into his own right now, obviously kind of had a little bit of a breakout game the other day,” Patricia said. “I think they’re trying to feature him a little bit more in the defensive line, allow him to do a little bit more, I would call it vertical charge. A little bit of the, he’s got kind of a chop-slap arm-over move that’s pretty effective with his length. So, he’s definitely a problem in the front.”
Vegas line for Week 2: 49ers by 7