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Football Outsiders projects the 49ers to be the 8th most fun team in the NFL in 2022

Their criteria included team quality, quarterback, playmaker corps, defense, novelty, and scheme.

Event Name: NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We’re a day away from the NFL releasing its schedule. There have been leaks that the 49ers will open the season against the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. If that’s true, the Niners better start 2-0, or else...

The uncertainty surrounding this team brings intrigue. Much of that rests on the right arm of Trey Lance. On the other side of the ball, DeMeco Ryans is coaching for a head coaching gig. The second-year defensive coordinator will only get better with another season of experience.

How entertaining will this team be? Last year, the team found a way to make just about every game enjoyable. There were slow starts against teams like the Eagles and Packers, while the 49ers had to fend off comebacks from the Bengals and Vikings late in the season. Then, there were times when the team fell behind and couldn’t claw back, like against the Cardinals and Titans.

Duplicating the drama from the 2021 season won’t be easy. But, for the sake of everyone’s blood pressure, let’s hope 2022 has fewer games that come down to the wire.

Football Outsiders put together a project where they projected the most fun teams for this upcoming season. Their criteria included team quality, quarterback, playmaker corps, defense, novelty — think fresh faces — and scheme.

The 49ers came in at eighth on the list:

8. San Francisco 49ers

Fun Index: 62.5

This ranking assumes that Trey Lance is the quarterback and Deebo Samuel is in the huddle, giving the 49ers a creative, high-octane offense to go with a turnover-happy defense. Dock the 49ers five spaces if Jimmy Garoppolo is somehow still in the starting picture or Deebo moves on. If both of these things happen, the 49ers will be about as fun to watch as one of those tow-truck rescue shows on the Weather Channel.

The defense was in the bottom half of the league at 20th in takeaways last season. That’s unsurprising considering who their cornerbacks were for most of the season. Positive regression feels inevitable given the changes in the secondary.

There are plenty of adjectives to describe Garoppolo, and while fun may not be one, the offense is a rollercoaster when he’s on the field. You could argue that, depending on the eye of the beholder, the 49ers are one of the more entertaining teams when he’s under center.

It’s all about Lance, though. We’re assuming he’ll take the 49ers' deep passing game, rushing attack, and overall ceiling of the offense to levels we haven’t seen. It’s easy to understand why San Francisco is viewed as one of the most fun teams in the NFL.

The Rams and Cardinals are ranked two and three on this list, while Seattle is at 26th. Give me the unknown that comes with Lance over a stagnant, Kliff Kingsbury offense that gets predictable by mid-season.