2020 San Francisco 49ers Fantasy Team Preview: Can Niners Meet Sky-High Expectations?

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the San Francisco 49ers to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.
Author:
Publish date:

This is a preview article from our Team Outlook series. If you are already a FullTime Fantasy subscriber, click here to read the expanded outlook.

Unlock premium access to the full outlook by subscribing to FullTime Fantasy where we will help you dominate with our Draft Kit, customized rankings, expert consensus rankings, Preseason Pro, Advanced ADP, Premium forums to ask our experts unlimited questions 24/7 & more. Check us out! 

Click here to subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Coaching Staff

The 49ers were a great story last year. They went from 4-12 in 2018 to 13-3 with a trip to the Super Bowl. San Fran scored 137 more points than the previous season (342) while also allowing 125 fewer points on defense.

They finished fourth in the NFL in offensive yards and second in points scored (479), which was their first top-ten ranking in either area since 2003. Their defense moved to second overall in yards allowed while placing eight in points allowed (310).

Kyle Shanahan earned his first NFL coaching job in 2017 for San Francisco after successfully running the Falcons' offense the previous season. Shanahan went 23-25 over three seasons as the 49ers head coach. He has 11 years of experience as an offensive coordinator while being in the NFL for 16 seasons.

San Fran won’t have an offensive coordinator again this year. Over the last two seasons, the 49ers used Mike McDaniel as the run game coordinator and Mike LaFleur as the pass game coordinator. Both coaches have ties to the Shanahan in Atlanta.

Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo (RANK - ADP)

It took Garoppolo six years to finally play in a full season. His completion rate (69.1) and yards per pass attempts (8.4) graded in the top tier of the league while finishing as the 14th highest scoring quarterback (305.6) in four-point passing TD leagues.

The 49ers dominated on the ground over the first part of the season, which led to losing value for the passing game over the first six weeks (219 yards per game with eight TDs). San Fran showed growth throwing the ball over their next seven games, leading to 276 passing yards per game with 18 touchdowns. His best value came in Week 2 (296/3), Week 9 (317/4), Week 11 (424/4), and Week 14 (349/4). Over his three games in the playoffs, Garoppolo passed for only 427 yards with two TDs and three Ints.

Garoppolo has an elite TE, and WR Deebo Samuel played well over his final 11 games (45/926/4). Unfortunately, Samuel suffered a broken foot in mid-June that required surgery. His recovery time should be three months at a minimum.

With WR Brandon Aiyuk added to the team with the 25th overall pick, the 49ers look poised to be a more rounded offense. San Fran wants to run the ball, so the passing attack will have some short outings again in 2020. I have Garoppolo projected for 4,131 combined yards with 27 TDs and 11 Ints in early July.

Running Backs

Raheem Mostert (RANK - ADP)

Over his first three years in the NFL, Mostert gained only 36 yards on seven carries while bouncing between five different franchises. He flashed off the bench in 2018, highlighted by his 7.7 yards per rush.

Last year Mostert teased in Week 2 (151 combined yards with a TD and three catches), but his next bump in chances didn’t come until Week 13 (154 combined yards with a TD and two catches). Over his final eight games, including the playoffs, he gained 792 combined yards with 12 TDs and nine catches. He scored a TD in eight of his last nine contests with an impressive showing in the NFC Championship game (226 combined yards with four TDs and two catches).

An explosive runner with a relatively short resume of success at the age of 28. He wants a raise before the start of 2020, which led to him requesting a trade in early July. For now, I have Mostert projected for 1,164 combined yards with nine TDs and 22 catches.

Tevin Coleman & Jerick McKinnon

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel (RANK - ADP)

Samuel's star rose in Week 10 (8/112) with follow through the next game (8/134). Over his final 11 games, including the playoffs, he caught 45 of his 67 targets for 926 combined yards and four TDs. Samuel had surprising value as a runner (15/224/2). His catch rate (70.4) commands more looks despite having eight drops.

San Fran is a run-first team, but their passing game has the pieces to have further growth in 2020. His Deebo Samuel should cost him a minimum of four games while needing more updates on his recovery.

I downgraded his projections by 25 percent due to injury, which leaves him on a path for 47 catches for 615 yards and four TDs.

Brandon Aiyuk, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor & Jalen Hurd

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Tight Ends

George Kittle (RANK - ADP)

The 49ers scored 137 more points last year than 2018 (342), but the passing game produced only a minimal gain (217 yards and two TDs). Kittle missed two games midseason with knee and ankle injuries. He also has an underlying labrum issue in his right shoulder, which invites injury risk into his future. His catch rate (79.4) was top-shelf in 2019 while posting two straight impact seasons (88/1377/5 and 85/1053/5) for the TE position.

Last year he had a regression in yards per catch (12.4 – 15.6), but Kittle still flashed open field ability (16 catches over 20 yards – 20 in 2018) when given the opportunity. He finished with three games with over 100 yards receiving (8/103, 6/129/1, and 13/134) and only two games with double-digit targets (10 and 17). The development of WR Deebo Samuel and expected help from rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk may restrict Kittle’s ceiling in 2020.

Kittle is an excellent runner-up prize as a top-tier player drafted around second or third at his position. I have him projected for 88 catches for 1,077 yards and six TDs.

Defense

San Francisco fell to 17th in rushing yards allowed (1,802). They allowed only 4.5 yards per rush with ball carriers scoring 11 TDs with nine runs over 20 yards.

The 49ers jumped to 1st in passing yards allowed (2,702) with 23 TDs and 12 Ints. QBs gained 5.9 yards per pass attempts with only 34 completions over 20 yards. Their defense finished with 48 sacks.

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DE Nick Bosa, DE Arik Armstead, DT Solomon Thomas, DT Javon Kinlaw, LB Dre Greenlaw, LB Fred Warner, LB Kwon Alexander, CB Richard Sherman, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, S Jimmie Ward and S Jaquiski Tartt.

Team Defense Outlook

Even with a high level of success on defense in 2019, the 49ers could have regression in their secondary. The defensive line should rebound vs. the run while Bosa and Armstead pressure the quarterback on the outside.

Many fantasy owners have San Fran rated as the top defense this year, but I expect some pullback in their play, especially if they don’t have as much success running the ball.

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

Unlock premium access to the full outlook by subscribing to FullTime Fantasy where we will help you dominate with our Draft Kit, customized rankings, expert consensus rankings, Preseason Pro, Advanced ADP, Premium forums to ask our experts unlimited questions 24/7 & more. Check us out!

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE