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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus examines best- and worst-case scenarios for 49ers in 2020

Jul 8, 2020 at 8:57 AM--

Pro Football Focus took a different approach to predict the records of each NFL team. The analytics site looked at the worst-case and best-case scenarios for the 32 clubs.

"Injuries happen. Key players significantly improve or see their play start to deteriorate," writes Ben Linsey. "Talented teams fall victim to poor coaching and dysfunction. All that goes to show that there is a range of outcomes when talking about projections. The current environment and uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season adds more fuel to the fire."

Pro Football Focus used season simulations by its research and development team to predict the high range (90th percentile) and low range (10th percentile) for each squad. How did the San Francisco 49ers fare in the simulations?

First, let's take a look at the low range, or the 10th percentile outcome. That has the 49ers finishing with a 7-9 record, which is actually the best worst-case scenario listed among NFC West teams. Potential reasons for such an outcome include the foot injury to star receiver Deebo Samuel. Should it drag into the season, that would put a lot of pressure on rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk.

"In turn, the 49ers offense becomes more one-dimensional," notes Linsey, "relying more on the run game than they would like to."

On the defensive side of the football, the Pro Football Focus analyst is worried about the cornerback position opposite veteran Richard Sherman, and wonders what might happen should neither Emmanuel Moseley nor Ahkello Witherspoon take full control of the spot.

Then you have the high end, or the 90th percentile outcome. That has San Francisco finishing with a 12-4 record, led by "a devastating pass rush and top-notch coverage play." Head coach Kyle Shanahan's brilliance as a play-caller could continue frustrating opposing defenses, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo improves after becoming more comfortable in the system.

Adds Linsey: "San Francisco's strategy of collecting after-the-catch monsters (Kittle, Samuel, Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings) along with versatile, position-fluid players such as Samuel and Jalen Hurd results in a group of receivers that fits Shanahan's scheme like a glove."

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