2020 Preview: San Francisco 49ers


Are the San Francisco 49ers a real contender this season? We ...

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

In 2019, the 49ers achieved the NFL dream, going from worst (or nearly worst) to first in the NFC. The team finished the regular season as the NFC’s top seed and bested the Vikings and Packers in the NFC Playoffs to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. In the big game, against the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers held a lead and looked like they might bring home a Super Bowl title. But it didn’t quite work out.

The Chiefs came back and hung on to win the Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo missed a throw that could have won the game, leading to some off-season questions. But after a reported flirtation with bringing in Tom Brady, the 49ers are back largely intact with a few new rookies and hopes of returning to the Super Bowl, this time to win a title.

Off-Season Changes

The 49ers bolstered their offense during the 2019 season by trading for Broncos’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders. But Sanders hit the free agent market following the season and signed with NFC contender the New Orleans Saints. Early in the off-season the 49ers added receiver Travis Benjamin, formerly of the Chargers, but he opted out for the 2020 season. Recently they signed former Washington tight end Jordan Reed, former Seahawk receiver Jaron Brown and former Ram and Cowboys’ receiver Tavon Austin.

But the biggest additions came in the draft, where the 49ers landed a pair of First Round draft picks. The team sent DeForest Buckner to the Colts but added South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw alongside an already incredible defensive front. With their second First Round pick, the 49ers snagged Arizona State receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Last season Aiyuk caught 65 passes for 1,192 yards and eight TDs. He figures to bolster the 49ers’ receiving corps as early as this season.

Fantasy Impact

Jimmy G finished as QB14 a year ago, but it’s fair to wonder where he’ll land in 2020. Some think he can press for QB1 stats, but I see him as a low-end QB2. The 49ers are a running team, which limits Jimmy G’s upside. Speaking of the running game, with Matt Breida shipped to the Dolphins there is more clarity in the backfield. Raheem Mostert, who exploded to end 2019 and, in the playoffs, and Tevin Coleman figure to lead the way. Jerrick McKinnon may finally play in a regular season game for the 49ers, and Jeff Wilson, Jr., is still in the mix. Mostert rushed for 772 yards and eight TDs last season, while Coleman added 544 yards and six TDs. The two should have the primary shot to split the load, and I like Mostert to be the better option. He’s an RB2, while Coleman is an RB4 with upside. Coleman posted a four-touchdown game in 2019, and is always a threat for that, but he lacked consistency last year. McKinnon is little but a late round hedge.

Among pass catchers, the top option for the 49ers is tight end George Kittle, who just got a big new contract. Kittle caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five TDs. Even with Reed potentially adding to the TE room, Kittle is the man and a TE1. In fact, I see him as THE TE1 in 2020. Reed struggled to stay on the field in Washington due to concussions, which makes him a risk. He’s a late round flyer at this point.

Wide receiver is more of a question. Second-year receiver Deebo Samuel figures to be the top option, but a broken foot this off-season gives me pause. Samuel has begun running and maintains he’s on track for Week 1. But this is the kind of injury that can linger. While Samuel is still a great prospect in Dynasty, he’s more of a risk in 2020. I have him as a WR4, and feel he’ll struggle with the foot throughout the season. I like Aiyuk long-term, too, and think he’ll contribute in 2020, but finish outside the Top 48 at the position. There aren’t any other receivers on the roster I’m taking in re-draft, but if I had to bet on one, I still like Kendrick Bourne best.

Prediction

The 49ers are still a good team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. They won’t sneak up on people in 2020, and I think they’ll come back to earth a bit in terms of record. The NFC West is stout, as is the top of the NFC in general. Still, I have the 49ers enjoying a decent season and making the playoffs.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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