The Cowboys and the Eagles are the top teams on the Niners schedule. Aside from those two, you could make arguments for the Jaguars, Bengals, and the Ravens pulling off potential “upsets.”
Of course, how we view a team in August can drastically change by December. By the second quarter of Week 1 last year, the 49ers backfield consisted of Trey Lance and Jeff Wilson Jr. In Week 13 in the same scenario, it was Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey.
ESPN went through each team to predict the ceiling and floor for how many wins they’d have in 2023:
Ceiling: 13-4 | Floor: 8-9
Biggest X factor: The offensive line
The Niners ranked 20th in pass block win rate and 17th in run block win rate last season — and it didn’t prevent them from making a run to the NFC Championship Game. But San Francisco then lost starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey and rotational lineman Daniel Brunskill in free agency, leaving tackle Colton McKivitz and guard Spencer Burford — who have a combined 21 NFL starts between them — to handle the right side of the line. The Niners’ offensive line has been mostly solid in recent years, but the deeper they get in the playoffs, the more troubles they’ve had against some of the league’s best pass-rushers. To reach their peak, they’ll need McKivitz and Burford to take significant steps forward.
Oddly enough, the offensive line isn’t as big of a worry inside the building as it is outside. And that’s knowing you have a couple of second-year starters and the unknown in McKivitz. Still, Kyle Shanahan has done less with more at essentially every other position on offense, and had success.
For an 8-win season, the injuries would have to be substantial. Brock Purdy’s rust would need to last over a month, and the secondary would regress in a way that nobody would have guessed. Also, the spot opposite of Nick Bosa’s production will have fallen off a cliff.
Essentially, some of the areas on this team that we take for granted because the 49ers have gotten away with them in the past would bite them in the you know what all at once.
The more fun question is: Which is more likely to happen, the 49ers hitting the ceiling of 13 wins or the floor of 8? Last season was the perfect storm as far as end of season scheduling and a soft landing spot for Purdy. I’d lean toward the floor, but acknowledge it’d be difficult to not reach ten wins with this roster.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.