The 2018 NFL regular season is finally here. In just a few days we will be watching games that actually matter with the best players on the field.

Excitement is at a high level within the 49ers fan base. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ended 2017 on a five game win streak and looked as advertised during the preseason.

With that being said, here are five bold predictions for the season ahead that will hopefully escalate your excitement:

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1. Jimmy Garoppolo will throw for over 4,500 yards and be in the MVP race:

I did say these were "bold" predictions, right?

With the arm talent, decision-making ability, and guidance from head coach Kyle Shanahan, it's easy to say that Garoppolo will be successful in 2018. With away games against the Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers and Packers, the first seven weeks of the season are going to be some tough sledding for the 49ers.

Garoppolo will have a game or two where things just don't click. It's football and that happens even to the great QBs. But in the second half of the season the schedule gets a bit easier and that's when the stats will start to stack.

The 49ers will have another strong finish and Garoppolo will vault himself into the MVP conversation.

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2. Running back Alfred Morris will become the starter and rush for over 1,100 yards:

Recent news reported that presumed starting running back Jerick McKinnon had torn his ACL on the last play of last Saturday's practice and has since been put on the injured reserve list, ending his season.

That now leaves the workload on backup running backs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris. Due to Breida's "McKinnon like" style of play and familiarity in the system, he will get the start in Week 1. However, Morris will see his share of work and eventually prove that he is the better "every down" back.

Shanahan will switch to Morris quickly and Breida will go back to the "complement" role that he is so good at. Morris will prove his worth and put in a very productive season.

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3. Cornerback Richard Sherman will have five interceptions and make the Pro Bowl:

Sherman will return to form and be the lockdown corner that has terrorized offenses for the last seven seasons.

While people worry he will not be the same coming back from an Achilles tear, Sherman will prove that he is better than ever. Sherman's play will elevate the 49ers defense into one of the NFL's top units.

Sherman will be the most intriguing player to watch on the 49ers in 2018.

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4. Defensive end DeForest Buckner will have 13 sacks, win defensive player of the year and be an All Pro:

Buckner has been a force along the 49ers interior line and proven himself to be one of the team's top players. In 2018, he will take it a step further and become one of the best defenders in the NFL.

In 2017, Buckner had three sacks but led all interior defenders with 19 QB hits. In 2018 he turns those hits into sacks. His presence will be felt in the same way that LA Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is.

Buckner will improve in every aspect of his game, earning himself the defensive player of the year award and All Pro status.

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5. The 49ers will win 11 games, beat the LA Rams twice and win the division:

It's about as bold as they come but the 49ers will play their best football against their divisional opponents.

Shanahan and Garoppolo will "scheme" their way to two wins against the Rams as they win all six of their divisional games.

The 49ers' losses will come early in the year and they will roll strong into the playoffs as one of the NFL's hottest teams, exceeding all expectations for 2018.