Man, What a season! What a Defense! What a Superb..oh…Want to talk about a hungry team? The San Francisco 49ers are coming into the 2020 season as hungry, and angry, as any team I’ve ever seen. That said, let’s take a look at the state of the team going forward.
Defense: This unit is led by reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa, who should be even better despite the augmented “ramp-up” off season. The seemingly age-less Richard Sherman is in charge of the back end. The unit Finished last season as the second ranked defense and I expect another top-five finish. Even after trading away Deforest Buckner, the addition of Javon Kinlaw should help to minimize that loss. Plan for a drop towards the middle of the pack sack wise, but they still have an extremely stout defensive line and secondary. The linebackers, overall, may be a reason for concern considering stalwart linebacker Kwon Alexander has only played one full season his career.
Offense: The offense is an absolute wagon, it just looks ready to run over opponents. Brandon Aiyuk was one of my favorite wide receivers in the entire 2020 draft. He makes a lot of magic happen after the catch with the way he fights for yards. He relishes contact and is an amazing blocker. Many may disagree, but he reminds me of a young Anquan Boldin. He should find a home in this offense. Deebo Samuel is expected back for week one from surgery on his broken foot. Hopefully the 2020 season ramp-up period, rather than a full off season, helps him get back as a deadly receiving threat quickly.
The running backs are plentiful in the bay area. Raheem Mostert had such a great breakout year. After bouncing around the NFL, he truly seems to have found his home and appears slated to truly be the number one back after taking over in week 12 last year. Is this the year Jerick Mckinnon finally gets to play? All signs point to, “yes”, and he should take over as the 2-back in the committee.
Let’s end the offensive overview with Mr. GQ himself, Jimmy Garoppolo, and his favorite weapon George Kittle. A lot of people have the image of Garoppolo overthrowing Emmanuel Sanders stuck in their head. Remember, however, JG was the most accurate quarterback on throws over 20 yards last season. He came in at a whopping 61 percent completion rate on these throws. Second was Patrick Mahomes at 51 percent. Garoppolo definitely had areas to improve this off season. In 2019, Garoppolo seemed to stare down wide receivers. He also needs to handle interior pressure better. This absolutely needs to improve in 2020 for with some great defenses on the 49ers’ slate. As for the $75 million dollar man? He’s going to continue to do Kittle things. Shoving defensive backs to the ground, smoking past linebackers. Not to mention, Kittle relishes opening up running lanes like no other tight end in the league. I don’t really have to say much about Kittle other than I’d expect another thousand-yard season and maybe a few more touchdowns to around 8 this year.
Now, we get to the fun part, actual season predictions. The schedule is tough this year. Hitting the 10.5 wins Vegas predicts for San Francisco, as of this writing, will be tough. In a season where home field advantage may not be much of an advantage, it will be interesting to see where the 49ers land.
Week 1 vs. Cardinals: Gee, thanks, Mr. O’Brien. We all really wanted to see young hotshot Kyler Murray with new addition Deandre Hopkins, week one. This offense is nuts, especially with the magician Kingsbury at head coach. Sadly, I think with it being week one, the cardinals have a few unseen tricks up their sleeves and Hopkins makes some miracle catch in coverage to squeak by. Result: L 28-24
Week 2 @ Jets: What a way to recover from a heart-breaker than to travel to New York and see the J-E-T-S. This game might be over before the first quarter is out. Le’veon Bell, reportedly hasn’t looked good in camp, leading the way for… Frank Gore? What year is this? No Quincy Enunwa, No Jamal Adams, nothing left in the cupboard here. See ya boys. Result: W 35-3
Week 3 @ Giants: Let’s take in the sights for a week before playing the Giants. Kidding, stay inside don’t let Mr. GQ catch the ‘Rona. Seriously. Saquon Barkley is going to do Barkley things, but I see Nick Bosa and company wreaking havoc on this offensive line. A team that ranked in the bottom half of the league two straight years in sacks given up? Yes, please. While they have some offensive weapons in Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard, their defense is a collective MEH outside of Dexter Lawrence. Jabrill Peppers will be giving 30 yards of cushion every play, and Deandre Baker is busy planning the next party he wants to crash (allegedly).
Result: W 21-10
Week 4 vs. Eagles: Carson Wentz, man he looks like a heck of a quarterback. By week 4 he may not actually be on the field though. To add insult to the often-injured quarterback, his receiving core seems to be following in his footsteps. Alshon Jeffrey is recovering from the dreaded lisfranc surgery so he may not be up to par all season, Jalen Reagor is expected to miss this game with a shoulder injury, although we haven’t seen specifics on the injury yet. Defensively, Philly appears to be fairly stout with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Darius Slay, and Jalen Mills. All great defenders that could make this a very grind-it-out style game. Result: W 9-6
Week 5 vs. Dolphins: I really want to write something nice in this spot. Truly I do, but it’s the Dolphins. C’mon. Matt Breida is coming home, and I hate to tell ya’ man, it’s probably going to be a disappointment. Ryan Fitzmagic will make it tough. Because that’s who he is, but in the end. The anemic dolphins don’t have the firepower, or the defense, to finish the job. Result: W 28-21
Week 6 vs. Rams: Finally, another divisional game. The defense will be hot and heavy from both teams in this game. Expect Bosa and company to shut down the Rams’ running attack and make Jared Goff wonder (again) how he ever reached a Super Bowl. Problem though, All-World Defender Aaron Donald is still a Ram. He may be living in JG’s face in week six. That interior pressure problem we talked about could rear its ugly head and stop us in our tracks. And if our run game never really gets off the ground. We aren’t reliving the 34-31 win last year that’s for sure. Result: L 14-7
Week 7 @ Pats: Hello darkness my old friend. Bill, how ya’ doing buddy? How’s Tom? Washed Cam Newton ? Really? Between the multitude of Covid-19 opt-outs, losing the GOAT quarterback, and still not adding any major offensive weapons, it will be a good day in the bay. Well in Foxborough, but a good day for the bay. Chalk this one up as a nice “W”. Result: W 24-10
Week 8 @ Seahawks: These guys, I hate these guys. On paper, this should be a bloodbath every time. Russell Wilson should have no time to throw, his offensive line even makes Swiss cheese look solid. But, somehow, someway, Wilson avoids sacks. DK Metcalf is a man among boys, and will probably be even better in year two. Oh, and they added stud safety Jamal Adams. That’s fun. As divisional games go, it will be a slobber-knocker, but this day we don’t come out on top. Result: L 13-10
Week 9 vs. Packers: Who did we tick off for this schedule? Things looked so easy there for a minute. A sneaky good defense led by the tandom of Za’Darius and Preston Smith, creates a lot of problems. Of course, Aron Rodgers can discount double get the heck out of here. Davante Adams somehow pulls out 2 touchdowns and Aaron Jones puts up another. We fight hard but now the Niners are on a losing streak Result: L 21-17
Week 10 @ Saints: Seriously? Another game against a top team? Okay, I see you NFL. Get ready for slant fest 2020. Drew Brees, does his usual thing and slices up the defense. Mostert has himself a great game, to the tune of two rushing touchdowns with JG adding two more though the air. Sadly, it won’t be enough. On a fourth quarter comeback drive, Brees throws – you guessed it – a slant to Michael Thomas for a game winner. Result: L 31-28
Week 11: A Bye Week, thank Budda, we needed this.
Week 12 @ Rams: Stewing on that losing streak, Richard Sherman givies the team an earful over the break. It does some good and somehow, this time around, we shut down Aaron Donald. He comes away with a goose egg on the stat sheet. Jimmy has his way with the Rams defense today. Result: W 38-3, back in the green baby
Week 13 vs. Bills: These guys are pushovers. Nothing to worry about. Wait, Stefon Diggs? Okay, so Josh Allen, has a cannon and the weapons to catch those bombs. They are going to score quick, fast, and in a hurry. The Bills are a, sneaky, great looking team this year. The defense is still fantastic and Ed Oliver still lives backfield. The 49ers aren’t slouches either, just not quite enough this day. Result: L 23-24
Week 14 vs. Football Team: The team who shall not be named. Love it. On offense, it’s really just Scary Terry McLaurin, and that’s about it. The defense is a collective sigh of, what used to be, really good talent. Today, however, it’s wasting away in the nation’s capital. Don’t need to go too in depth. This ones going to be ugly. Result: W 42-3
Week 15 @ Cowboys: Ahh – America’s team, a great old rivalry renewed again. I’m not sold on Dak Prescott. The offensive line, while still good, has weaknesses at center and left guard. These are ripe for exploiting. Ezekiel Elliot, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper have themselves a decent day. However, this is time for JG, Kittle, Mostert and the defense to close out a close one. Result: W 38-35
Week 16 @ Cardinals: Time to take on this crazy offense again. This time around there will be a whole season of tape to study. The 49ers are prepared. Sure, Kyler will get his, and today they get the yards. However, in the Red Zone things get stingy. No touchdowns – just a few field goals – and a powerful offense that is really hitting its stride late in the season to lead San Francisco to another victory. Result: W 24-12
Week 17 vs. Seahawks: Ending the season at home against Seattle. Richard Sherman is having none of it. Wilson still makes magic happen and the Seahawks’ defense is still stout. This time, in a complete reverse of the early-season match up, the 49ers take the win after Sherman gets a pick against his old quarterback. Snuffing out another fourth quarter Wilson comeback special.
Result: W 13-10
Season Results: 10-6 Didn’t cover the Vegas odds, but who cares, its playoff time!