@LevisStadium

@LevisStadium



Despite a massive offseason turnaround, the San Francisco 49ers are still projected to be very bad in 2017. Looking at Vegas odds and the upcoming schedule, what's a realistic win total for the Niners this season?


Well, anything better than a 2-14 record would be a major improvement for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.

Niners general manager John Lynch has done yeoman's work in reassembling what was a talent-void roster entering this offseason. His free-agent pickups improved the middle class, as NFL Network Ian Rapoport (h/t KNBR 680) put it, and the overwhelming consensus among experts and pundits suggest Lynch had a phenomenal NFL Draft class as well.

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All this, combined with the enthusiasm surrounding first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan, would lead most to believe the Niners are on the up and up. Perhaps they are, but odds-makers aren't thinking so. At least not to a big extent.

Odds Shark currently has the 49ers' win-loss line at 4.5 games this season. Going with the over would suggest San Francisco actually has a chance to do more than just double last year's win totals. Also important to consider is the fact the Niners' 2017 schedule is much easier than what the team faced back in 2016 -- opponents' carrying over winning percentages of .475 compared to .555 the year before.

One could also be enticed to look around San Francisco's own division, the NFC West, and see how the 49ers might actually pull off a .500-or-better record within this bunch. The Los Angeles Rams are terrible, possibly even worse than San Francisco, and the Arizona Cardinals are one Carson Palmer injury away from a disastrous season.

And if one chooses to believe the report from ESPN's Seth Wickersham on the Seattle Seahawks' apparent implosion, the NFC West could be up for grabs after all.

OK, that's the optimist's viewpoint. Even if San Francisco goes 3-3 within the division (assuming two wins over the Rams and, possibly, one over the Cardinals), where are the other two wins going to come from? Four of the Niners' first six games of the 2017 season are on the road, and San Francisco would be lucky to pull off two wins during this stretch.


Oh, and of the 49ers' first six home games, only two -- Carolina Panthers in Week 1, Rams in Week 3 -- feature teams with a sub-.500 record last year. The rest of the Levi's Stadium crop from this same stretch includes matchups versus the Dallas Cowboys, Cardinals, New York Giants and Seahawks.

There are some winnable games on the back end of the schedule though, so it's not too far-fetched to think the Niners can come up with five-plus wins.

But there are other factors working into the equation here.

One of the more prevailing thoughts stemming from organized team activities and mandatory minicamp was how much further along the Niners defense was compared to the offense, at least according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. This isn't surprising, as Lynch spent his first three picks in the NFL Draft on defensive talent. And Shanahan's complex offense will take time to learn.

If we connect the dots, though, one can see how the Niners are likely going to rely on their defense to win games early in 2017. Considering how young this group is, and that tough road schedule over the first six weeks, how well will this unit travel? One might not think of an 0-6 start, but going 1-5 -- heck, 1-9 -- is a real possibility.

So how many wins do the 49ers pull of this season, realistically?

Well, there are far too many factors at stake here, but that's how Vegas makes its money anyway. Without being a homer though, I do see the Niners getting the over on the 4.5 wins set for this season.

Possibly five, maybe six. Anything else is a bonus, suggesting the 49ers could be much further along than many of us thought.

Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise and 49ers Webzone and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @PeterPanacy on Twitter.