NFL PREVIEW: 2020 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
BY ADAM GREENE
Key Additions: WR Travis Benjamin (free agent), RG Tom Compton (free agent), DE Kerry Hyder (free agent), CB Jamar Taylor (free agent)
2020 NFL Draft: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (round 1), WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State (round 1), OL Colton McKivitz, West Virginia (round 5), TE Charlie Woerner, Georgia (round 6), WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee (round 7)
Projected Offensive Starters: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Raheem Mostert (for now), WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Trent Taylor, TE George Kittle, LT Trent Williams, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Weston Richburg, RG Daniel Brunskill, RT Mike McGlinchey
Projected Defensive Starters: LDE Nick Bosa, LDT Javon Kinlaw, RDT Solomon Thomas, RDE Arik Armstead, WLB Kwon Alexander, MLB Fred Warner, SLB Dre Greenlaw, LCB Richard Sherman, RCB Ahkello Witherspoon, SS Jaquiski Tartt, FS Jimmie Ward
K: Robbie Gould
P: Mitch Wishnowsky
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan
2019 Record: 13-3, 1st place NFC West
A Look Back: San Francisco pulled its own worst-to-first turnaround thanks to a last place schedule and a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo. It also didn’t hurt that the Los Angeles Rams were suffering a Super Bowl hangover and got out of the way with little to no prodding.
The 49ers opened the year 8-0, all but guaranteeing a playoff spot and even the three regular season games they did lose were to decent teams and by a single score. In fact, two of the defeats were by just a field goal to the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens.
San Fran plowed through the playoffs with little resistance only to meet up with Patrick Mahomes for either one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history (as I like to think of it) or greatest choke jobs (which would make more sense if Mahomes didn’t do it to every team he faced in the postseason).
2020 Projection: But here’s the problem. The Super Bowl hangover for a team that “shouldn’t” have lost is real. The Niners need look no further than their own division rival Rams to prove that. San Francisco not only lost the game because Mahomes’ is the NFL’s answer to Michael Jordon, but because Shanahan did not trust Garoppolo to win it. And for good reason. In spite of a nice little statistical season, Garoppolo was hot and cold and very few people would look at the 49ers final regular season record and put most of it on Jimmy G’s shoulders. San Fran was a run first team and when you pair that with an elite defense, it can work.
But it won’t work forever. Add to that a little offseason drama with Raheem Mostert demanding a trade and the loss of wideout Deebo Samuel for the season and you have the recipe for that fabled Super Bowl swoon.
2020 Projected Win Total: 9-7. Currently the 49ers pay at -105 for under 10.5 wins and 5-9 victories pays at +110. With the expanded playoff system, the Niners could still sneak in as the No. 7 seed and do damage as long as they keep their defense together, but the NFC West remains the toughest division in the NFL and wins will be tougher to come by.