Has there ever been more of an injury-plagued year than what the 49ers had last year? Even their MRI truck wasn’t safe from the injury bug. The 49ers take the third spot in my NFC West power rankings. It’s almost like you can give them a pass on the season due to the outlier of bad things that happened to their team. It’s easy to remember that this team had enough talent to make it to Super Bowl LIV and was so close to getting the job done. That being said, I predict that they’ll have a bounce-back season.
That is dependent upon the quarterback play, as long as it’s not one of their backups, then they’ll maintain this spot. There’s always a chance they could sell the farm in order to land Deshaun Watson, but who knows what kind of kings ransom it’ll take to pry him from Houston. Kyle Shanahan has a lot more NFL experience than Kliff Kingsbury, and his creative plays will find ways to spread the ball around.
Shanahan also used WR Brandon Aiyuk quite a bit this year, and the Arizona State product had a good stretch of games later in the year. The running game is still pretty good even on a down year, finishing 15th in the league.
On the defensive side, they lost defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to the New York Jets. A change that I won’t think will make too much of a difference. Having Nick Bosa up front and Fred Warner calling the defense will help them regain their form. They still may add another piece defensively in free agency, but locking up LT Trent Williams remains a priority for the team. Another notable player, cornerback Richard Sherman is 33 years old and an UFA.
Changing this ranking will require them to obviously stay healthy and sweep at least the Seahawks or Rams. This team is arguably more ready to fight for the NFC West title, if not grab one of the three wild card spots. They’ll need to have clutch plays especially when they need to throw the ball to really start making strides towards the top of the division once again.