San Francisco 49ers 2019 Season Preview
By Zachary Grier
Special to Pro Football Guru
The San Francisco 49ers have been hit with the injury bug for a while now and last year was a pretty good indication. The team lost around 19 players to injuries last year including starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan has a 10-22 record since joining the Niners in 2017 as head coach. Considered as one of the most brilliant minds in the NFL, he would like to have a fully healthy roster so that he may be able to show the rest of the league what his scheme can do to against opposing defenses.
Offense: Coming back from a torn ACL, Jimmy Garoppolo still has a lot to prove as the 49ers’ franchise quarterback. To make his job easier, the team drafted Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd with the 32nd and the 67th pick in the 2019 draft, respectively. The wide receiving group has not been stellar in a long while and it shows with the lack of red zone production. George Kittle was the team’s best offensive player last year, setting a new NFL record for most receiving yards (1,377) in a single-season by a tight end. After losing Jerick McKinnon to a season-ending torn ACL injury last summer, the team brought in Tevin Coleman as insurance. With Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin coming back healthy, Shanahan should be able to fully utilize his offense if Garoppolo lives up to expectations.
Defense: This was the most disappointing aspect of the team. Via two interceptions and five fumble recoveries, the Niners set an NFL record for fewest takeaways in a season (7). When the best pass rusher, DeForest Buckner, is the only one created pressure on the quarterback with no one to help on the edge, it’s a bit difficult to create turnovers for the secondary. Trading a second round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for Dee Ford and drafting Nick Bosa with the number two overall pick should solve that problem. With the additions of Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett, the defense now looks a lot better on paper than a year ago. Now coordinator Robert Saleh needs to bring everything together and that includes good communication.
Special Teams: This group surprisingly had the most drama during the offseason. Robbie Gould was on a verge of holding out. On the day of the franchise tag deadline for long-term contracts, Gould signed a four-year deal with the team. The Niners let punter Bradley Pinion walk in free agency. The team then used their 2019 fourth-round selection on 27-year-old Mitch Wisnowsky. Long snapper Kyle Nelson was suspended for 10 games last year and has six more to serve. Despite the suspension, the team did sign him a four-year deal and signed Colin Holba in place of Nelson for the time being.
Prediction: The Niners have some tough competition coming up in their schedule. Teams like the New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and the division rival Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will be great tests. The team have the best roster since Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have taken over the team from building it from the ground up. They may not might it to the Super Bowl this year but they do have a legit chance of capturing a wild card berth.
Win-Loss Record: 10-6 (2nd Place, NFC West, reach NFC Divisional Playoffs)
Zachary Grier (@zgrier24) is a Base Data Analyst for Pro Football Focus. He is a co-host on the 49thHourPodcast and streams video games on Twitch (Zockman176). He is also currently a junior in college trying to acquire his Journalism bachelor’s degree.