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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Schrager: 49ers will make it to the NFC Championship Game this season

Mar 26, 2018 at 11:58 AM--

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The Good Morning Football cast was among the first to jump on the San Francisco 49ers hype train early in the offseason. Host Peter Schrager may even be the conductor. He has admittedly already crowned the 49ers as Super Bowl champions and probably taken quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's measurements for his Pro Football Hall of Fame gold jacket.

The hype started early because of the way the 49ers ended 2017. After starting the season by losing nine-straight games and ten of their first 11, the Garoppolo-led 49ers went undefeated in December and finished 6-10, including wins against the playoff-bound Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Los Angeles Rams.

Signing Garoppolo to a five-year deal worth up to $137.5 million allowed the hype train to pick up even more passengers.

It wasn't a surprise that Schrager picked the 49ers as his "Cinderella Story" in 2018 and a surprise team that can reach the conference title game.

"The 49ers, to me, are the team that went 6-10 but I still think they can make a run to the conference championship game," Schrager said on Monday. "They have their quarterback in place with Garoppolo, and they added great pieces. Jerick McKinnon is going to be the fourth-highest paid running back in all of football and just wait until you see how Kyle Shanahan uses him in that offense.

"Weston Richburg is a serviceable center they got from the Giants, and they add Richard Sherman as well. I look at this 49ers team, and the hype is out of control. This is the Cinderella team that everyone in the (NFL Network) office, including the guy in the accounting department, the marketing department, and everyone at the water cooler is circling. That's the team."

Before free agency, the potential signing of McKinnon was part of Schrager's ambitious five-point plan for the 49ers to counter the Rams' offseason moves.

"Jet is going to get a lot of interest in the free agency market because he can play both running back, third down, and do a little stuff at wide receiver and special teams," Schrager said on March 9.

Over the past two seasons, McKinnon has contributed 1,109 rushing yards on 309 carries with five touchdowns. He also added 94 receptions for 676 yards with four touchdown catches since 2016.

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