Before each season, we make bold predictions, guess the 49ers' record, and talk through a few topics. So as we head into Week 9, let’s look back at some burning questions and see how they’re holding up today.
Will Jimmy Garoppolo be the starter by Week 11?
What we said then:
Jimmy needs to play. I don’t expect him to be spectacular, but he doesn’t have to be. If Garoppolo is a touch more aggressive down the field while continuing to take care of the football, the 49ers will win a bunch of games this year.
As much as Lance oozes talent, you have to know the plays. That starts with spitting out the correct verbiage with confidence to knowing the checks at the line of scrimmage to knowing where to go with the football, and delivering an accurate pass.
Instead of focusing on how much Lance plays, keep an eye on his development. If we see progress, he’ll be one step closer to getting the keys to a luxury car.
That’s not far off as we saw the dividends it pays last week when Garoppolo is aggressive and takes care of the ball. In our poll, 59% of you said Garoppolo would be the starter by Week 11. So unless Jimmy has back-to-back performances where he looks unplayable, he’ll be starting in Week 11.
It’s funny how an opinion can change about a player every week in the NFL. First, after a loss to the Colts, everyone was ready to bury Garoppolo. Then, after an efficient day at the offense against Chicago, it’s as if his previous starts didn’t matter. So which Jimmy will see during the next two games?
I predicted Lance would start by Week 11 as I was under the impression he’d play much more than he has. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened for a few different reasons, so Lance hasn’t had an opportunity to develop. My train of thought was that Lance wouldn’t be the same player in Week 1 as in Week 11. When you’re not getting reps, you’re not going to evolve your game.
Will injuries cost the team again?
What we said then:
When you look up and down the depth chart, the starters and even most of the backups give you confidence. It’s once a guy goes down is when you begin to worry.
The same is the case with the defense. While we talk about how deep the line is, they’re one injury away from everyone being bumped up a spot. Your role players are role players for a reason.
You can say this with most teams, but we’re already seeing how an injury at cornerback forces the Niners to go out and sign free agents off their couch.
Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel haven’t missed any time, but George Kittle, Trent Williams, and Garoppolo have. Raheem Mostert is missed. His replacement, Elijah Mitchell, is suffering a rib injury — which is the third time he’s been banged up this season.
Defensively, the defensive line every position has taken a hit. The line hasn’t gotten much production outside of Nick Bosa and D.J. Jones. In addition, Dee Ford and Maurice Hurst have been banged up, while Javon Kinlaw may never be 100% and miss the season.
Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair have missed games. Now, so will Jimmie Ward, after the team has already lost Jaquiski Tartt. We’ve seen how big of a loss Jason Verrett was on defense. Several starters have missed multiple games. It isn’t easy to be sound on either side of the ball when that happens.
An impressive 68% of you predicted the 49ers would win 12 or more games, while 31% believed 9-11 was more realistic. San Francisco would have to go on a Step Curry-like streak to surpass 12 wins.
I want to see how the team looks during the next two weeks before labeling them as “good.” That’s fair, as the 49ers haven’t beaten a good team to date. My updated prediction is 10-7 with a wild card berth.
Verdict: Wrong, for now.
Fred Warner is higher in the Defensive Player of the Year voting than Nick Bosa
Brandon Aiyuk has more receiving yards than Justin Jefferson from the Vikings
Dee Ford plays a full season and leads the team in sacks
Trey Sermon scores double-digit touchdowns
The 49ers end up trading for a cornerback in the middle of the season
These are laughably bad.
Bosa is currently tenth in Defensive Player of the Year odds. However, Deebo is having the season I thought Aiyuk would. Jefferson has 563 yards receiving this year. Samuel has 819. Aiyuk has....141.
Even on a pitch count, Ford hasn’t played in each game. He has three sacks, which is pretty impressive considering Ford hasn’t played more than 20 snaps in a game since Week 1. Still, Bosa has seven sacks and is just starting to heat up.
Will Sermon score another touchdown all season? We talked a bit about this before the season. It wasn’t a big deal then, and it’s not a big deal now that Mitchell has outplayed Sermon. The 49ers needed one guy to pan out. Mitchell is a better fit for a Shanahan-style offense.
The Niners ended up making a trade, but it was for an edge rusher.