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Roundtable: What are your expectations for the 49ers in 2019?

Jun 28, 2019 at 3:52 PM0

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We asked the 49ers Webzone staff to discuss the (reasonable) expectations surrounding the San Francisco 49ers as the team prepares to enter the 2019 season and the critical third season under head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

This article isn't necessarily about total wins for the upcoming season. The question was left open-ended so each writer could interpret what he deemed a success or failure.

Below are the responses in the order in which they were received.

Matthew Mani

I expect the defensive front seven to be a serious problem for opposing offenses. I expect 35-or-more sacks from the defense. I expect the corners to be a strength, and the safeties to struggle. I expect the running game to remain strong, and the passing game to improve significantly.

In short, I expect them to be a top-10 team in offense and a top-15 team on defense. I expect eight wins and hope for 10.

Bret Rumbeck

The San Francisco 49ers' defensive line has often reminded me of my old 1967 Mustang. It was either humming down the road and kicking into another gear or dying at the first stop sign just outside the student parking lot.

In 2017, the 49ers' defensive line faced a league-high 491 rush attempts, allowing 1,861 yards and 13 rush touchdowns. Last year, the 49ers front four allowed 47 fewer rush yards, 13 rush touchdowns and allowed three fewer rush yards per game than in 2018. In fact, the 49ers' run defense allowed 143 fewer rush yards and allowed a full yard less per rush than the Los Angeles Rams defensive line – and the Rams saw 58 fewer attempts.

Four years of high-round draft picks, and free agent investments now have the 49ers with a frightening defensive front. This is the year the defensive line finally puts it together; we'll see an increase in all defensive statistics including sacks, run stops, and turnovers. I would not be surprised if the 49ers' defense ranked in the top ten by the end of the season.

Jason Aponte

I'll go with two offensive expectations for 2019. Tevin Coleman tops his career-high of 11 touchdowns in 2016 with 15 and Dante Pettis becomes the first 1,000-yard receiver since 2014.

2016 was Tevin Coleman's breakout campaign under Kyle Shanahan. Coleman totaled 941 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns while missing three games. Shanahan found creative ways to get Coleman the ball which largely involved creating mismatches with linebackers. With Jerick Mckinnon's status for Week 1 unknown and how often Matt Breida is nicked up, Coleman stands as the most durable of the three only missing one game in the last two years. I'll take the over on his 11 touchdowns in 2016 and say Tevin finishes with 15.

Anquan Boldin. That's the last 1,000-yard receiver for the team. Honestly, this isn't a hot take at all, but Dante Pettis will change that in 2019. Pettis finished strong in 2018 and by most accounts has improved as a player during OTAs. What I was impressed with was his ability to create separation with footwork. There were glimpses in Week One against a tough Vikings secondary, but it really came together late last year. A healthy Jimmy G and a full season for Dante will break the 1,000-yard dry spell.

Matt Andruscavage

My reasonable expectation for the 49ers is that, if they stay mostly healthy, especially in key areas, they should win about 10 games. There are several winnable games and a few games they will likely lose.

The offense should be able to put up over 21 points per game. They are deep in the key positions and have a potential star quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. The entire offensive line is returning and should be able to provide ample protection to allow Jimmy G to get the ball to all of the talented skill players. The running back position should be far better than last year simply because of the depth. They should be able to have a starting caliber running back suit up each week, which did not happen last year.

The receiver position will also be improved with the additions of Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd and possibly Jordan Matthews. When you add in a healthy Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, and Dante Pettis, there's no reason to believe that this group is anything but loaded. Then there is George Kittle, who is looking to build on his breakout 2018 season. The red zone should be much improved, and as opposed to the last two seasons, the 49ers should be sending starters out onto the field, rather than backups.

On the defensive side of the ball, they now possess the talent on the defensive line that can close out games. Many of the losses the 49ers have endured over the last two years have come as a result of the defense not being able to get after the quarterback at the end of games. That should drastically change with the additions of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. We should also see improvement from Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead. Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner are a promising duo at the linebacker position and if they're both out there, should not only do very well against the run, but be the kind of linebackers that produce "splash plays" that result in turnovers, something that we have not seen since the days of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

In the secondary is where we find the biggest question marks. Richard Sherman had a good season last year, but should be much better now that he is fully healthy. I expect Ahkello Witherspoon to be much better than last year and also expect to see Jason Verrett out there. If he is healthy, this secondary will not be victimized repeatedly in big spots. There are questions at safety, but there are some good possibilities in Tavarius Moore, Adrian Colbert, Jaquiski Tartt, and even Jimmie Ward if he can somehow stay healthy. The secondary should greatly benefit from the added pass rush.

The 49ers should make the postseason and if a couple of things go right, could win 11 games and the division title. I won't say anything about the Super Bowl, but they could be in play for an NFC Championship Game berth if this squad can live up to some potential. No matter what, expect the 49ers to be in the playoff hunt and be much more exciting than in the last two years. The playoffs are very much in reach for 2019, and there is every reason for The Faithful to be excited and have playoff expectations.

Matthew Barr

Since 2014, wide receivers drafted in the second round have averaged 39.2 catches, 493.6 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. Stated plainly, I believe that 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel will exceed these numbers by a wide margin.

Samuel has long been a target of Kyle Shanahan after seeing his performance at the Senior Bowl. His skill set, particularly his ability to gain yards after the catch, is ideal for Shanahan's scheme that focuses on getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers with space to maneuver. I expect Samuel to have 55 catches, 730 yards and six touchdowns, provided he stays healthy.

Levin T. Black

One word: progress. This is year three. The roster is much improved from year one. It also has depth. It can withstand injuries, unlike last year.

A healthy Jimmy Garoppolo should mean competing for a playoff spot all season. Even with another Garoppolo injury, the 49ers shouldn't be picking in the top five.

There are no more excuses for this regime. It's time to start seeing results on the field.

RELATED Adam Rank predicted a 3-13 record for the 49ers in 2019

David Bonilla

I expect the 49ers offense to start off hot in games and take some pressure off the defense in the second half. The big question mark is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's health. If he ends up close to 100 percent, it will be interesting to see what he can do with tight end George Kittle and a talented group of running backs as his supporting cast.

The wide receiver group is interesting. There is a ton of potential there but not a whole lot of experience. The team has veteran Marquise Goodwin and brought in Jordan Matthews, but its future may rest with second-year receiver Dante Pettis and rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. The 49ers currently have nine receivers on the roster with three or fewer years of experience.

I also expect the pass rush to be much improved after the 49ers invested heavily in veteran Dee Ford and rookie Nick Bosa. San Francisco gave up a second-round pick in 2020 for Ford, plus a new contract, and used the No. 2 overall pick on Bosa.

Double-dipping to bolster the pass rush was a pleasant offseason surprise and could pay massive dividends. Not only will it create pressure on the quarterback, but it should also help hide any deficiencies in the secondary.

I don't believe the 49ers are in the conversation yet for division title contenders, but I expect to see opposing teams having a lot more trouble fending off improved units on both sides of the football. Finishing at .500 or better for the first time since 2014 would be significant for the Kyle Shanahan-led squad. Not being an afterthought in December (or November, even) would be huge for this team.

Zain Naqvi

It's kind of hard to predict where the Niners will end up this year because of all of the players returning from injury. The following starters are all returning from significant, season-ending injuries: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jet McKinnon, Kwon Alexander, Nick Bosa (college), Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Jason Verrett, Ahkello Witherspoon. That's a potential seven of 22 starters who are coming back, and we have to remember that not all of them will return to pre-injury form right away. That's just how football is. Guys take time to heal. If Jimmy stays healthy, they're always going to have a shot, but he needs help, and it starts with guys being healthy.

The second big factor is the other unknowns on the roster. Will Dante Pettis make a big leap in Year 2? Can George Kittle have the same impact that he did last season? Can Jimmy G replicate the five-game stretch of 2017 (or just be better than 2018)? Will Dee Ford and Nick Bosa be a terror for opposing offenses? Who starts opposite Richard Sherman? How much will the decision to ignore the safety position in free agency cost the team? The list of questions can go on and on. The point is that the 49ers have so many unknowns on the roster that it's hard to gauge where they stand at this point. We'll obviously know more once the season starts, but for now, this is another big question mark.

The third factor is going to be the schedule. Last year's first two months of the season were absolutely brutal — the toughest in the league, in my opinion. It was ridiculous how difficult that stretch was. This year, they have a much more favorable start to the season and could conceivably start the season 3-0 (if they steal a game from the Steelers in the home opener). The second half of the schedule is considerably tougher and IF they can stay healthy (that's a big if), they'll be in the playoff race.

From a player's statistical standpoint, it's too hard to predict what they'll do because the team is so different this year with regard to talent (so much more talent than last year). But from a final record perspective, I'm very comfortable with saying that they'll reach at least eight wins. Every team in the NFL wins games by "accident" — be it by a lucky bounce, bad call, great play, etc. If the 49ers can win a couple of those games, it'll take them to 10 wins. Regardless, they'll be in the hunt for a playoff spot this year. They're not ready to contend for a title, but be ready for some meaningful December football.

Chris Wilson

My expectations for the San Francisco 49ers are a bit more tempered this offseason compared to last year when the Niners were riding high off of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's undefeated finish to the 2017 season.

In many ways, 2018 was a lost year for "Lynchahan," as the duo lost their starting quarterback and top running back by Week 3. The 49ers' top three wideouts were also uninspiring, as was San Francisco's secondary — and then there was linebacker Reuben Foster.

Well, at least we had tight end George Kittle.

Given the team's offseason acquisitions, the 49ers have the potential to impress this season, but they appear to be a year away from a potentially deep playoff run. Expect San Francisco to fight for second place in the division in 2019 before setting their sights for the NFC West title — and more — in 2020.
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.


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