After an offseason of DOOM when it comes to the injury bug, the San Francisco 49ers are ready to unleash their speed on opposing defense during the 2020 NFL season. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is back in the fold after suffering the dreaded Jones fracture during training, and speedster Richie James is fully healthy heading into Week 1.
Pro Football Focus released its annual rankings of the best NFL offenses heading into the new season, and they have the Niners at No. 8:
“Kyle Shanahan has transformed this offense into a superpower. A season ago, the 49ers produced the seventh-most-efficient offense in terms of EPA per play and caused headaches for the opposition through heavy motion and play-action usage.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo posted the seventh-lowest rate of uncatchable throws in the NFL last season, which helped him produce the 13th-best passing grade in regular-season play. He still struggles to see linebackers and makes too many bad decisions over the middle of the field, but make no mistake, San Francisco can win with Garoppolo at the helm.”
The 49ers have a ton of weapons in the passing game. Samuel may take some time to get back to full speed, but we caught a glimpse of what he’s capable of during his strong rookie season. Tight end George Kittle is the best in the game at his position while adding Jordan Reed should provide a jolt to the passing game as well. San Francisco’s rushing attack will be strong because head coach Kyle Shanahan can turn a slow, un-athletic 45-year-old man with bad knees into a productive running back, so Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman should do just fine.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should be better in 2020. He had a full offseason of training and focusing on the playbook, rather than rehabbing a severe injury. From the training camp reports, he still needs some improvement with his decision-making, but let’s not forget the man is 21-5 as a starter in the NFL.
San Francisco ranked seventh in offensive DVOA in 2019. Veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders left in free agency, but rookie Brandon Aiyuk should be able to make up for the loss. The Arizona State product was impressive during practices before tweaking his hamstring. Shanahan will put Aiyuk in a position to use his speed, and with fellow receiver Trent Taylor back on the field, Garoppolo has more weapons than he did last year.
The one area the Niners could struggle with is protection from the interior of the offensive line. Starting center Weston Richburg will miss at least the first six weeks, while his backup Ben Garland missed a significant chunk of practice time after hurting his ankle. The good news is that Garland should be ready to go on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, which means Daniel Brunskill will start at right guard.
The top five offenses in PFF’s rankings are: 1) Kansas City Chiefs, 2) Baltimore Ravens, 3) Dallas Cowboys, 4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 5) New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks are the highest-rated NFC West team at No. 6, the Cardinals came in at No. 9, while the Los Angeles Rams are 15th.