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Predicting the 2021 49ers Season, Part 2

Sep 12, 2021 at 9:00 AM--


Let's get into the second part of predicting the 49ers' season starting from Week 7, right after their bye. Part 1 can be found here.

Week 7: Indianapolis Colts (Loss)


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Here we have a game that is really difficult to predict given the circumstances of the matchup. At this point, the 49ers are well rested and well prepared to play with a whole week of rest from live game action. Over the last two seasons, San Fransisco has won both of its games after a bye week. Additionally, if quarterback Jimmy Garapolo's play suffers over the first couple of games of the season, this would be a very ideal position for coach Kyle Shanahan to start Trey Lance for the first time all season.

Unfortunately for the Niners, an otherwise great situation comes against the Colts, a very formidable team. Led by a healthy Carson Wentz, a QB who the 49ers have really struggled against, especially with the rushing aspect of his game, the Colts offense comes with a strong offensive line and a couple of intriguing young pass catchers in Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell paired with what looks to be a high potential running back cast featuring Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Marlon Mack. The key for the 49ers to have a chance in this game will most definitely rely on the defensive line's ability to put pressure on Wentz, something it is very capable of doing. Something that should worry the 49ers more, however, is the Colts' defense. Somehow in a season in which they ranked No. 11 overall in points allowed, and No. 8 overall in yards allowed, the defense still flies under the radar. If there's one thing that the Colts can do, it's put pressure on an opposing quarterback with a great defensive line, which doesn't bode well for a slightly overrated 49ers offensive line squad that lacks depth and had a very average preseason.

I expect the Colts to take this game in what will be a very competitive bout.

Week 8: Chicago Bears (Win)



San Fransisco travels across the country for this Halloween matchup against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. After what I predict will be a tough loss against the Colts, San Fransisco likely has a reassuring rebound here. The Niners should not be concerned about the Bears' offense in the slightest, as there are glaring holes scattered around that side of the roster. The offensive line has many questions and will be protecting a very average and limited Andy Dalton or a rookie, Justin Fields, who will struggle against an experienced 49er defensive line.

The only concern in this game lies with the Bears' defense, which is not as good as it once was but still features a lot of talent that could obstruct San Fransisco's game plan. Chicago's front seven is ferocious, featuring stars Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Roquan Smith. The secondary is also solid with young potential players like Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor with an experienced great safety in Eddie Jackson.

Still, the 49er's dynamic offense should still be able to outmatch Chicago's defense, especially coming off a loss, leaving San Fransisco with another win.

Week 9: Arizona Cardinals (Loss)


Rob Schumacher/The Republic, Arizona Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC


Given the nature of divisional matchups and the difficulty of the NFC West in general, I expect teams to split every matchup. Last season, the 49ers beat the Rams twice, split games with the Cardinals, and lost to the Seahawks twice, while the team ended up going 6-10, missing the playoffs by a significant margin, clearly a random sequence of events. More often than not, this causes missed predictions and speculation, so I'm going to put the season series as a split. I expect Kyler to run all over the 49ers and leave the defense without answers for one of the games.

Even more, after the recent Emmanuel Moseley injury, it is evident that the defensive back corps lacks serious depth of any kind, making it predictable that at least one starting corner will have injury problems by Week 9. With the air raid that the Cardinals have the capability to pull off, this will be devastating.

Week 10: Los Angeles Rams (Loss)



Unfortunately for Niner fans, I project that the Week 7 to Week 10 stretch to be one of the most brutal patches of the entire season. Four straight weeks of playoff-caliber teams can be very tough on even the best teams. This week might be the hardest yet. The Rams will likely be among the best teams they play all season and definitely the best defense they will approach.

The key with the Rams, however, is that even though on paper they might seem like they have the best team in the division, the 49ers, specifically Kyle Shanahan, seem to have Rams head coach Sean McVay's card for a couple of years now. Winning all four of their matchups against the Rams over the last two years, the 49ers seem well equipped against the Rams on any given Sunday. Something in common with all of these matchups is that San Fransisco does a great job stifling the Rams' offense.

This might change with new Los Angeles quarterback Mathew Stafford at the helm of the team, but I don't predict it will dramatically alter many outcomes. The primary flaw I see with the Rams in gritty defensive matchups like these is a lack of true explosiveness on offense. I truly value Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as great established receivers in the NFL, but neither are particularly dynamic weapons who can get large chunk yardage or break through very tough coverage for impressive gains, something LA desperately needs after the substantial loss of Cam Akers prior to the season.

Regardless, I don't see one of the best teams in the NFC and a playoff lock getting once again swept by San Fransisco and believe that the Niners will take at least one loss, especially one after a period of very hard competition.

Week 11: Jacksonville Jaguars (Win)


Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports


Things can only go up for San Fransisco after potentially losing 3 of 4 games in midseason, and the Jaguars are certainly the type of team that can help the Niners retool for the latter portion of the season. The Jaguars had the worst season in the league last year and haven't exactly surrounded Trevor Lawrence with the adequate pieces necessary to success this year. The bright spots of their team include their quarterback situation, with Trevor Lawrence obviously, and their wideout spot with speedy D.J. Chark, sophomore Lavishka Shenault, and the reliable Marvin Jones Jr. James Robinson has turned out to be another surprise for them, but due to Travis Etienne's season-ending injury, the Jaguars aren't able to reach their full capabilities at this position.

Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the offensive line and the entirety of the defense demands a maximum rebuild, something the 49ers will look to take advantage of with dynamic weapons Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk, and a healthy defensive line that has the depth and skill to totally outwork the inexperienced Jaguars offensive line.

San Fransisco should be able to pick up an easy blowout victory here in what will regenerate confidence and momentum against a Jaguars team that will likely repeat as bottom 5 finishers.

Week 12: Minnesota Vikings (Win)


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Though I project the Niners to once again beat the Vikings this year, I do think this game will be a lot closer than people project for a couple of reasons, don't let last years' 7-9 record fool you. I respect Minnesota's decision to actually look at the parts of the team that failed last year and attacked them in the offseason. One of these spots was the secondary, for which it signed 4 starter caliber players in Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, and Xavier Woods, marked improvements from last year's starters. Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Tomlinson, Sheldon Richardson, and Everson Griffen will be back on a defensive line that will attempt to shore up more pressure on quarterbacks, considering the unit only generated 23 sacks all year, which led to dominant offensive performances by opposing teams.

We know what to expect from the Vikings offense, which remains explosive even with a limited Kirk Cousins leading the charge. Justin Jefferson, Adam Theilen, and Dalvin Cook will all return as Pro-Bowl caliber players again, leading to a tough challenge for the depleted Niners secondary as well as a fragile front seven compared to an explosive runner like Cook.

Expect a tight game in which the Niners come out on top simply because of a more well-rounded team that has more talent scattered around the roster.

Week 13: Seattle Seahawks (Win)


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Yet again another split divisional series comes against the Seahawks. Historically, even before the Shanahan era, games between these two teams were close and intense, usually leading to game-winning drives or nerve-wracking gameplay for fans. Last year an injury-plagued team was able to stay competitive with Seattle, showcasing the dual-sided nature of games between the NFC West rivals. The reasoning behind picking the 49ers over Seattle is pretty simple here. Over the past couple of years, the Seahawks undergo a blazing start, but this shifts in the latter part of the season when the burden becomes too heavy for Russell Wilson and the running back room including Chris Carson and Rashad Penny, who either break down from injuries or don't remain consistent. Meanwhile, San Fransisco has thrived against the Seahawks late in the season, leading me to favor them in this matchup.

Week 14: Cincinnati Bengals (Win)


Albert Cesare, Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC


An aspiring young playoff team in the midst of a rebuild, the Bengals don't seem to be ready just yet to step up to the challenge of running a well-oiled football organization. After a dramatic season-ending injury, Joe Burrow looks to return to where he left off last season, a potential Offensive Rookie Of The Year candidate last year. Assuming the injury didn't dramatically, irreversibly alter his athletic ability or confidence, returning to form likely won't be too difficult. The Bengals are also another team loaded with versatile offensive weapons including dynamic young stars Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.

Unfortunately for Burrow, however, the offensive line struggles will likely continue as there was a very limited attempt to address it effectively through the draft and free agency. Besides a small upgrade at the right tackle position, amply protecting Burrow and setting up enough run-blocking to establish an efficient run game will not be totally feasible for this unit.

I keep bringing up the 49ers defensive line because I think it might just be one of the strongest aspects of the team. The variety of different types of rushers, whether it be speed rushers or power rushers, and the sheer number of above average rushers the team has will simply be too much for a lot of subpar offensive lines around the year. Most people remember the 2019 49er D-Line, but this one likely has a similar ceiling due to spread around talent.

When it comes to the Bengals defense, it's another unit the 49ers can exploit as it's arguably a less effective unit than their offense. Cincinnati definitely took steps to address it this offseason by adding Larry Ogunjobi, Trey Hendrickson, and B.J. Hill. But with otherwise unproven defensive personnel, there's only so much the team can do when stacking up against a dynamic, revamped San Fransisco Offense.

Week 15: Atlanta Falcons (Loss)


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Here comes arguably the most surprising and out-of-character loss of the 49ers season (and perhaps a stampede of angry Niner fans). Every year, almost every playoff team has a collapse at the hands of a team that has no business beating them. The Falcons, however, are a bit different than any of these other below-average teams that upset clear favorites. Every year, it seems like Atlanta truly has the capability to beat any team on any night. The perfect example was when the Falcons faced Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the penultimate game of their otherwise disappointing season. A four-win team came one missed field goal away from tying with a fourteen-win team. Just four games earlier, Atlanta routed Las Vegas with a margin of victory of 37 points, ending the Raiders' playoff hopes. The Falcons clearly had the talent and capability to be a much-improved team but lacked the final execution to be a lower-tier playoff-caliber team.

Fortunately for them, they made the coaching decision to hire former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as their head coach, the same coach who transformed Ryan Tannehill the bust to Ryan Tannehill the Pro-Bowl quarterback. Matt Ryan will have a strong offensive mind backing him for the first time since Kyle Shanahan, something that is sure to help the entire offense in general in terms of operating more efficiently and smarter through innovative play calls. Finally, the Falcons have beaten the 49ers in a close game before, when the 49ers were at their peak, back in 2019.

I personally predict a high-scoring shootout that showcases the worst sides of both defenses through potent air attacks against stumbling secondaries, and eventually, an unexpected Falcons victory.

Week 16: Tennessee Titans (Loss)


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


San Fransisco's second major stumble likely comes at the time when it needs to avoid one the most, in the midst of a close playoff push. The Titans could very well win their division again with some key acquisitions and offseason moves, most notably the trade for Julio Jones for only non-first-round picks. The addition of Jones seemingly fully completes the offense to ensure it competes with the best in the league. The Titans now have two legitimate No 1. receivers that can each single-handedly handle the workload of a team's receiving demand if they wanted to. Having a distribution of receiving talent with A.J. Brown and Jones provides the opportunity for an even stronger rushing attack from running back Derrick Henry as it keeps any defense honest by not allowing the opposition to crowd the box. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's play-action will only become stronger and an already efficient offense will improve even further.

By Week 16, I also expect the wear and tear of a long season to start affecting key position groups hard, such as the secondary. At the moment, San Fransisco only has two starting-caliber cornerbacks, both of whom are injury-prone. Simple probability concludes that the defensive backfield is slightly compromised at the very least at this point and at the dominant wide receiver duo's mercy. Combine this crucial deficiency with the Titans consistently finishing their regular seasons strong over the past two years, and it sets the stage for an expected loss for the Niners.

Week 17: Houston Texans (Win)


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There's not much to say here. Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor as primary quarterbacks are all that we need to look at to determine the Texans do not stand a chance against the 49ers. Everywhere that you look on Houston's roster, there is a glaring hole that San Fransisco can easily exploit. The team was already on a very subpar track last year, but after losing Deshaun Watson and cornerback Bradley Roby, this team is competing with Jacksonville for the bottom two seeds in the AFC.

Week 18: Los Angeles Rams (Win)


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I have the 49ers winning the last game of their season against the Rams in order to split the season series 1-1. The 49ers will be fighting for optimal seeding and maybe even their playoff spot in this game, giving me a reason to believe that they will win this specific game more than any other one.

Final Record: 11-6


Final Thoughts:


If this prediction comes true and San Fransisco makes the playoffs by a significant margin, fans and the team should be ecstatic. It's rare that a rookie quarterback who has a legitimate role in the offense goes this far in the season. I believe this record should be enough to secure the second spot in the NFC West, above the Cardinals and Seahawks, while falling just short of the Los Angeles Rams.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



1 Comment

  • Hatta Kayak
    Thank you for the information you provide, it helped me a lot. I hope to have many more entries or so from you. Your videos are so good. Your work is amazing. Hatta Kayak
    Sep 20, 2021 at 6:53 AM
    0

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