2013. The last time the San Francisco 49ers made a playoff appearance. I’m sure for most fans; it feels even longer than that. The roster heading into this year is the strongest it’s been in years. The 49ers win total is set at eight wins this year. Provided health, even Vegas is giving the Niners 50/50 shot at making the playoffs.
Nobody will argue that football is a team sport. Still, several internal individual stats will influence the 49ers success this year. Here are four over-under numbers that will have a substantial impact on the direction the season goes. You won’t see any whole numbers, because that’s how bets push. Nobody wants that!
15.5 starts for Jimmy Garoppolo
The 49ers can sneak out a game or two with Nick Mullens starting. If the team is going to reach its ceiling, Jimmy G needs to be on the field. If Mullens or C.J. Beathard are forced to play more than a couple of games this season, you can rule out the Niners playing in the second week of January. Garoppolo isn’t injury prone. Last year was just proof that injuries can happen to anyone. For the 49ers success this season, it’s imperative for Garoppolo to be on the field.
15.5 touchdowns for George Kittle/Dante Pettis
The offense isn’t going to have a problem moving the ball. If they are going to take the next step, they’re going to have to start punching their possessions into the end zone. That starts with their two most talented weapons. Last year the duo of Kittle and Pettis combined for ten total touchdowns. With Garoppolo and another year with Shanahan, you’d think that number would go up. If Kittle scores 13 times and Pettis scores three times, it’s a success. No matter how they get to this number, it needs to happen.
Think of the most prolific offenses last season. Using the Kansas City Chiefs as an example, the combination of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill scored 22 times last season. The Chiefs scored at a historic clip, so it’s not realistic to expect the 49ers duo to reach that number. They should be in the ballpark, though.
4.5 interceptions combined from the safeties
The pass rush of the 49ers could influence this number. Their schedule should have something to say about this, too. Here are the quarterbacks the defense will face the first month of the season: Jameis Winston. Andy Dalton. Big Ben. Baker Mayfield. Each of the quarterbacks above were questionable decision makers a year ago. They also tend to fold under pressure. That’s excellent news for the Niners secondary, specifically the safeties.
If the ball bounces the way it did in 2018 this year, I’m not sure what to say. That just doesn’t happen. Two interceptions are truly terrible luck for an entire season. We don’t know who the safeties will be. The two that open up the season may not be the ones who finish. Whoever they may be, it’s time for on-ball production. Five interceptions between a handful of players shouldn’t be too much to ask.
21.5 takeaways for the defense
The 49ers had seven all of last year. That’s going to change, and Dee Ford will be a big part of that. Ford forced seven fumbles last season. He is a ball magnet. You cannot fake that stat. Last year 22 takeaways would have put the Niners in the top half of the league. While it may seem steep to triple their number from a year ago, the addition of Ford, Nick Bosa, and more athleticism on defense should lead to more takeaways. Top-15 in takeaways is a realistic goal.
If the 49ers can achieve the over on these four numbers, the likelihood of the playoffs is high.