You just read about how the San Francisco 49ers were one of the teams that were hit the hardest during free agency because they lost two of their better players on the roster. The goal for the Niners was to keep as many key players from the Super Bowl team as possible to ensure their championship core remains intact. Emmanuel Sanders proved to be a rental, though a costly, yet valuable rental. DeForest Buckner seemingly became a victim to his success. Buckner wanted Aaron Donald money, and with the 49ers having invested so heavily in their defensive line already, paying a defensive tackle—a great one at that—transcendent money wasn’t an option.
The Super Bowl hangover has been a popular topic surrounding the 49ers. Having two first-round picks to help add talent will go along way in getting back to the big game. Health will, too. For as much worry out there that the 49ers have gotten worse this offseason, Vegas isn’t buying it. William Hill released their updated odds post-free agency for each team in the NFL, and the 49ers still have one of the highest-projected win totals.
San Francisco is projected at 10.5 wins. The over is -150, which means you’d have to bet $150 to win $100. The under is +130, which means you would win $130 on a $100 bet. In layman terms, Vegas is saying there is a better chance the 49ers win 11 or more games than they win ten or fewer.
Why the 49ers won’t win double-digit games
The gambles this offseason don’t pay off. The 49ers roll into 2020 with Daniel Brunskill starting at right guard and Emmanuel Moseley at cornerback, and the two regress as their opponents have more film on the two. Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t take the next step in his development in Year 2 of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which causes the play-caller to continue to be conservative at the worst possible times.
All of the top receivers are gone by No. 13 in the NFL Draft, and the 49ers take a non-skill player that needs adjusting to the NFL. The wide receiver they eventually draft is a far cry from what Sanders gave the offense, and we don’t see a healthy Trent Taylor or Jalen Hurd.
Defensively, Dee Ford remains banged up during the year, which makes life difficult for Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa. Both the offense and defense remain above average, but nowhere near as lethal at these units were in 2019.
Why the 49ers will win double-digit games
Too much talent and quality coaching. You know how many teams in the NFL can lose a talent like Buckner and still feel confident moving forward? One. Imagine if the Rams lost Aaron Donald, or the Eagles lost Fletcher Cox. Those defenses would instantly go to the bottom half of the league. San Francisco has two of the better coverage linebackers, pass rushers, safeties, and an All-Pro cornerback.
On offense, the most important piece remains: Shanahan. I’ve been consistent with criticizing Kyle misreading the game-flow and game management. Make no mistake; there is nobody in the world that I’d rather have calling plays. Shanahan is a mad scientist when it comes to putting his players in a position to make plays. The wide receiver class is so deep that it’s not out of the question that San Francisco can come out of the draft with two wideouts that can make an impact as rookies.
Let’s say the 49ers miss out on Jerry Jeudy or Ceedee Lamb. Instead, it’s Mehki Becton or Tristan Wirfs, and the team trades back from No. 31 and selects a receiver like Denzel Mims or Michael Pittman, and adds a quality defensive tackle. With the way Raheem Mostert ran the ball last season, and—in this scenario—Jerick McKinnon shows us why the Niners ave been so patient with him, the offense reaches the 2016 Falcons level and is unstoppable. We’ll see once the draft gets here, but I lean over as of today.