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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Round Table: A look back at our 2017 season predictions for the 49ers

Jan 4, 2018 at 3:39 PM0

The San Francisco 49ers' 2017 season is complete and it's a safe bet that, no matter what you predicted, it didn't go exactly how you thought. The 49ers started the season by losing nine consecutive games and then won six of their final seven, which included three straight victories over playoff teams to end the year.

Before the start of the season, we asked members of our staff to predict the number of wins the 49ers would have in 2017. Shockingly, most were very close if not right on the money. After the first nine weeks worth of games, most probably second-guessed their predictions.

Below is a breakdown of each writer's prediction from September 7 and their thoughts on it now.

Bret Rumbeck

Original prediction: 6 wins

In Dante's Inferno, the 8th level of hell is reserved for those who committed fraud. Here, Dante and Virgil find the fortune tellers, astrologers, and diviners. These wretched souls cannot see as they are blinded by their tears, have their heads turned around and will walk backward for all eternity.

With my correct prediction of six wins for the 2017 San Francisco 49ers, I am slightly terrified this could be my fate should the afterlife be so unkind.

Obviously, nobody could have guessed how this season was to turn out for the 49ers, including the release of veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman and acquisition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately, it took five-and-a-half games for head coach Kyle Shanahan to figure out what the rest of the NFL already knew: Brian Hoyer isn't a good quarterback.

Running back Carlos Hyde nearly gained 1,000 yards again this season, and he played in all 16 games. Shanahan obviously found the trick to keep Hyde healthy: a rotation with a speedy running back like rookie Matt Breida, who had 105 carries and 465 yards.

My memory is fading in my old age, but I cannot remember a time when watching a 6-10 team was this much fun.

Justin Wong

Original prediction: 6 wins

The 2017 San Francisco 49ers were the first team in franchise history to start the season 0–9 and losing five consecutive games by three points or less. True to what I said earlier, it was a young team that would go through its share of growing pains. Several early injuries made it difficult for the 49ers to sustain offensive drives. 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer was benched in favor of rookie C.J. Beathard in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins. I predicted six wins for the 2017 season but had no idea it would go down in such dramatic fashion when the 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo via trade on October 30th. If anything, I felt foolish early on to think the 49ers would win six games with such high roster turnover.

The second half of the 49ers' season had a completely different persona. The 49ers would eventually win their first game of the season in Week 10 against the New York Giants and despite the record, head coach Kyle Shanahan still had his players engaged.

While I was optimistic, I did not expect such early returns from the rookie class. From tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Trent Taylor on offense to safety Adrian Colbert and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon on defense, there are some mid-round draft gems that look promising. Colbert, in particular, is an intriguing prospect that took advantage of his opportunities. He was a seventh-round pick, which was the selection acquired from the New Orleans trade that netted the Saints running back Alvin Kamara.

The 49ers finally gave Garoppolo the start in Week 13 and with him under center, the 49ers won five consecutive games to finish with a 6–10 overall record; this included victories over playoff-bound teams such as the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Unbelievable.

All eyes will be on what 49ers general manager John Lynch does to build upon their recent success with a potential franchise quarterback in hand. This is probably the most exciting 49ers team in recent memory and should headline the NFL offseason, period.

Chris Wilson

Original prediction: 5 wins

My five-win prediction wasn't far off, and my reasoning was mostly correct — but there's no way I could have fathomed the 49ers' dominance late in the season.

Here's where I was right:

  • The 49ers were more competitive on a week-to-week basis than in years past.
  • The 49ers struggled early due to a difficult early-season schedule.
  • The 49ers struggled early due to new schemes, young players, a bad offensive line, and a lack of pass rush.
  • Once the 49ers reached the easier part of their schedule, the team had a different personnel makeup, particularly at quarterback.

Here's where I was wrong:

  • I didn't think the 49ers' final three opponents would be playoff-bound, and I didn't think the Niners would beat all of them.
  • I figured the 49ers would win a game or two in the first half of the season — even with a difficult schedule — because I had more faith in Brian Hoyer than was warranted.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo. I didn't think he would have such an immediate impact. I expected the 49ers to win two or three games with Garoppolo under center.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler Wright

Original prediction: 7 wins

So, the year-in-review is here for our beloved San Francisco 49ers. As most of us thought, the 49ers finished with six wins in 2017. But they didn't come how we expected.

After the 49ers found their franchise quarterback in new starter Jimmy Garoppolo, the team got hot. They won 6-of-7 in their second-half stretch, including going 5-for-5 in the last 5 games.

Looking to next season, San Francisco has developed key contributors on both sides of the ball. Rookies Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, George Kittle, Trent Taylor, and Adrian Colbert headline a fantastic draft class from 2017. Defensive end Solomon Thomas was solid too at times, and the 49ers also acquired second-year defensive tackle Sheldon Day after the Jacksonville Jaguars released him mid-season. Day was great up the middle of the defense. The 49ers have a very young foundation in place, as the 'brick-by-brick' plan has unfolded nicely.

Next season, I really feel like the 49ers will be back in the playoffs. Looking at their home and away opponents, the schedule is quite favorable outside a few tough road games. The 49ers should finish 6-2 or better at home, while 4-4 or better away seems entirely possible. Based on history though, -the 49ers jumped from 6-10 in 1980 to 13-3 in 1981-this team should make a huge leap. They'll go 7-1 at home and 6-2 on the road. If they don't, it won't be a surprise. 11-5 is more realistic, but this is just a belief in the organization speaking.

Prediction: The 49ers win the 2018-2019 Super Bowl in Kyle Shanahan's second season. Jimmy Garoppolo with a full offseason and offensive line improvement could have this team posting the No. 1 offense in football, and that would be hard to beat.

Peter Panacy

Original prediction: 6

So I was spot on with my six wins, eh?

That's cool, but the season didn't go anywhere near the way I thought it would. I never thought the New York Giants would be that bad, nor did I think the L.A. Rams would be that good. What I did think would happen is the 49ers would win a handful of games against sub-par opponents – the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals, etc. And maybe even pull off a surprising win or two.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was supposed to be OK. Not great, but decent enough to manage a budding offense. That was a wrong assessment, and C.J. Beathard wasn't much better.

I don't know anyone who predicted a blockbuster trade-deadline deal for Jimmy Garoppolo, and that changed everything. If that didn't happen, the Niners probably finish with two wins at best.

2017 seriously was a tale of two seasons – the pre- and post-Garoppolo trade eras. Thankfully, the latter one got me to my six predicted wins.

Although I would never have seen it coming that way.

Jason Bertolucci

Original prediction: 6 wins

Before the 2017 season began, most preliminary predictions had the 49ers finishing up with somewhere in the range of 4-7 wins. At the end of the year, that's exactly where they stood. However, this journey was definitely not a straight line from point A to point B. On November 6th, the 49ers were at 0-9. When the season ended in L.A. on New Year's Eve, they went into the offseason with a 6-10 record, a franchise quarterback, and visions of a 2018 season with the highest of ceilings.

Even before the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo that changed the course of the season and the franchise, several predicted areas of improvement did, in fact, come to fruition. The defensive front seven played very well against the run after being historically terrible in 2016. Kyle Shanahan's scheme showed flashes of success early in the season that eventually grew into one of the NFL's top passing offenses when Garoppolo took over in early December.

On the flip side, the areas of concern that arose before the season started reared their ugly head throughout the year. Sub-par play by the interior of the offensive line torpedoed the running game and nearly got rookie C.J. Beathard decapitated in the middle part of the season. Defensively, the shaky secondary play, particularly at corner, was an ongoing issue. Penalty machine Rashard Robinson was traded mid-season. The opposite corner, Dontae Johnson, was picked on repeatedly, which led to him being benched multiple times in favor of undrafted rookies and street free agents who didn't fare much better.

In their first offseason, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan added several key free agents, drafted a remarkably deep and talented rookie class and then acquired a franchise quarterback for the 43rd pick in this year's draft. With as much as $116 million in cap room and four draft picks in the top 74, Lynch and Shanahan have the ammunition to improve any weaknesses on the roster of the NFL's hottest second-half team. There is every reason to believe that the 49ers can keep their late-season juggernaut rolling into 2018.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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