San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers was pegged as a team to make some noise entering the 2018-19 regular season. With Jimmy Garoppolo under center for a full season after lighting it up at the tail end of the previous campaign once getting shipped over from New England, what could go wrong? The injury bug, that’s what! It attacked Kyle Shanahan’s roster in Week 3 when it took a bite out of Jimmy G’s knee and forced him to pretty much miss the season’s entirety. Then it set its sights on the backfield with Jerick McKinnon, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida suffering season-long or multiple week injuries. It wasn’t done there! Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin also felt the wrath. When it was said and done, the 49ers season resulted in a 4-12 overall record that saw it grossly fail to surpass its season win total odds at online sportsbooks or be a player in the NFC West title race. All the walking wounded is expected back in 2019-20 and the roster was also improved. Could this be the year San Francisco once again lives up to expectations?

Is Jimmy G the “Real Deal Holyfield?’ That’s something his fans and NFL bettors have wanted to know for quite some time now. He was finally given the chance last season, but it was over before you saw it. Hopefully his knee is 100 percent healthy heading into 2019-20 and we can all finally see just how for real one of the most handsome quarterbacks in NFL history actually is. Truthfully, his output in the three games played wasn’t much to get excited about. What we saw at the tail end of the 2017-18 season would rank out as elite if in fact Garoppolo is cut from that sort of ilk. Regardless, San Francisco is in possession of one of its more impressive offensive rosters in quite some time. George Kittle had his coming out party last season with over 1,300 yards receiving and only 5 TD mostly due to the caliber of quarterback getting him the pigskin. The backfield is now overflowing with talent with the addition of Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman, so if nothing else, the 49ers will force the opposition to take their ground attack seriously. Rookie newcomer Deebo Samuel and offseason acquisition Jalen Hurd should give Jimmy G ample targets to spread the ball around to in hopes of rounding out the attack.

None of it will mean much of anything unless the defense finds a way to be a strength more so than the weakness it proved to be a season ago. While the unit ranked top-15 in total defense, pass defense and rush defense, it still surrendered an average of 27.2 points per game. A bulk of the reason why was because of the offense’s inability to hold onto the football evidenced by the league-high 32 giveaways permitted, but it also had to do with an inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. San Francisco’s stop unit mustered a grand total of 37 sacks which was tied with the Falcons, Browns and Jaguars for No. 22 in the league. That’s simply not going to cut it! In managing just four overall wins, GM John Lynch was awarded the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft and he wisely used it on Ohio State’s Joey Bosa to infuse some nastiness into the pass rush. He also went out and traded for Kansas City maligned defensive end Dee Ford who accrued 13 sacks with the Chiefs last season. San Fran should be vastly improved in that stat category.

All the moves made on both sides of the ball will go for naught if the offense can’t do its job. In order for Jimmy G and company to succeed, they’re going to need the offensive line to rise up and take its collective game to the next level. The hogs up front allowed San Francisco quarterbacks to get thrown to the turf a whopping 48 times last season. That’s 3.0 times per game people! No wonder they couldn’t field a healthy quarterback all season! Provided the protection dramatically improves, more pressure is created up front defensively and the roster can avoid the wrath of the injury bug, San Francisco will be in the thick of the NFC West title race all the way through. Whether it results in a playoff appearance remains to be seen, but 17-1 and 5-1 returns at top rated sportsbooks to win the NFC and the NFC West certainly look awfully attractive heading into the regular season!