2019 Fantasy Football: San Francisco 49ers Expanded Team Outlook

Shawn Childs

San Francisco 49ers Team Outlook

In this San Francisco 49ers Team Outlook, I will focus on each key aspect of the franchise: coaching, the draft, free agency, offensive line, schedule, defense and of course, each relevant Fantasy Football at the key positions: QB, RB, WR, TE and K.

Coaching

The last two decades have been tough for 49ers fans. Since 1999, San Fran had two mini-runs where they made the playoff five times (2001, 2002, 2011, 2012, and 2013) with one Super Bowl appearance. Over this stretch, the 49ers have had eight head coaches. They’ve finished last in the NFC West from 2015 to 2017 with a combined 13-35 record. Last year they lost their franchise QB, which led to another miserable season (4-12).

Kyle Shanahan earned his first NFL coaching job after his success running the Falcons’ offense in 2016. He went 10-22 over the last two years. Kyle has 11 years of experience as an offensive coordinator while being in the NFL for 15 seasons.

Offensive Coordinator

Last year San Francisco slipped to 16th in offensive yards after finishing 12th in 2017. They scored 342 points (21st), which was only a slight gain over the previous season (331 – 20th). Shanahan will run the offense for the second straight season after helping Atlanta score the most points in the NFL in 2016 (540).

Defensive Coordinator

Robert Saleh returns for a third season at the defensive coordinator, which was a step up in job after spending the previous three years as the linebacker’s coach for the Jaguars. Saleh has 13 years of coaching experience in the NFL. Last year the 49ers climbed to 13th in yards allowed on defense, but they lost ground in points allowed (435 – 28th).

49ers Free Agency

The 49ers signed LS Kyle Nelson, LB Kwon Alexander, LB David Mayo, CB Jason Verrett, LB LaRoyReynolds, DB Alex Brown, and CB Dontae Johnson. Alexander is the best player added. San Fran also acquired DL Dee Ford in a trade with the Chiefs.

San Francisco lost DL Earl Mitchell, LB Brock Coyle, DL Cassius Marsh, DB Godwin Igwebulke, CB Tarvarus McFadden, LB James Onwualu, S Terrell Williams, and LB Pita Taumoepenu.

On offense, the 49ers added OL Daniel Brunskill, OL Ben Garland, OL Willie Beavers, OL Wesley Johnson, and TE Levine Toilolo.

They released WR Pierre Garcon, WR Steven Dunbar, WR Jordan Smallwood, RB Matthew Dayes, and TE Marcus Lucas.

49ers Draft Picks

First Round pick, 2nd overall: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio St.

In the first round, San Fran tried to address their weakness in the pass rush with DE Nick Bosa. His plays with plus strength and quickness helping him to defeat his opponents off the snaps in both the run and pass sets. Bosa has the hands to disrupt at the point of contact with the base to hammer after the snap. His pass rush moves lack depth while losing some value when forces to chase outside vs. the run.

Second Round pick, 36th overall: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Samuel gives San Fran a WR with size (5’11” and 214 lbs.) while offering respectable speed (4.48 forth yards dash) and quickness. Deebo lack finesse with his success helped by his power. He needs to improve his route running while figuring out how to stay healthy — more of a player that works hard than a natural talent.

Third Round pick, 67th overall: WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor

Hurd comes to the NFL with elite size (6'5" and 225 lbs.) with a past resume of playing running back. His experience carrying the ball will be a plus in the open field. Jalen shows athletic ability, which will help speed up his learning curve in his route running. His overall game is raw while having the tools to develop into a viable starting WR. As of now, Hurd will have to find a balance between using his size and questionable release to create plays at different levels of the defense.

Fourth Round pick, 110th overall: P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

In the fourth round, San Francisco invested in P Mitch Wishnowsky. He kicks high and far.

Fifth Round pick, 148th overall: LB Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas

LB Dre Greenlaw was the choice in the fifth round. Greenlaw has the speed, strength, and quickness to excel at the next level, but his best success comes when he has a free run to ball carriers. His pretty boy style loses momentum vs. the big bodies inside, especially when Greenlaw takes a wider or less direct path to the ball. Dre needs to decide if he wants to be a lover or a fighter in the NFL.

Sixth Round pick, 176th overall: TE Kaden Smith, Stanford

Smith projects a run blocking TE with dump off value. His wins in his route running come more from physical play than elusiveness in the open field. Kaden has reliable hands with some risk in his release off the line of scrimmage.

Sixth Round pick, 183rd overall: OT Justin Skule, Vanderbilt

Skule brings technique, and a football feel to the NFL. His power and quickness isn’t ideal, which may lead to risk early in his career in pass protection. With more strength, Justin may surprise in his development. His base is the most significant area of need early in his career.

Sixth Round pick, 198th overall: CB Tim Harris, Virginia

Harris looks the part of a player with upside, but he comes to the NFL with a history of injuries while lacking playmaking ability. Tim fears speed in the deep passing game, and he tends to be late on his aggression on softer routes. For him to make an impact at the next level, Harris needs to play with more fire in his game while eliminating mistakes in coverage.


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Offensive Line

The 49ers finished 13th in rushing yards (1,902) with seven rushing TDs and 15 runs over 20 yards. They averaged 4.5 yards per carry with 26.4 attempts per game.

San Fran ranked 15th in the NFL in passing yards (3,867) when considering their talent at WR and the loss of their starting quarterback before the season. They threw TDs (26) with 20 Ints. The 49ers had 12 plays over 40 yards, which was the sixth highest total in the league. Their offensive line allowed 48 sacks and 125 QB hits.

LT Joe Staley

Staley has a long resume of success in the NFL after getting drafted in the first round in 2007. Staley played at high-level in both run and pass blocking for the better part of the last seven years in the NFL. He’ll start 2019 at age 35.

LG Laken Tomlinson

He showed growth in his fourth season in the NFL, but he still ranked below the league average with most of his failure coming in run blocking. His game was a liability vs. the run as well in 2015 and 2016 after being drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Lions. San Fran thought enough about his game to sign him to a three-year extension in March in 2018.

C Weston Richburg

Richburg started his career at left guard for the Giants in 2014 after they selected in the second round. He made 31 starts at center in 2015 and 2016 where he had the most success in 2015. Richburg missed 12 games in 2017 with a bad concussion. Weston ended up being a bust last year with losing value in every part of the game. He’ll need to regain his form if he wants to keep his starting job.

RG Mike Person

He started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2018, which was a bump in opportunity based on his career path. Person tends to have risk in run blocking with a chance to offer a slight edge in pass protection.

RT Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey played well in run blocking in his rookie season after getting drafted ninth overall in 2018. McGlinchey underperformed expectation in pass blocking. He has the foundation skill set to be an edge in both the run game and in pass protection. Mike plays with vision with a strong base in his technique. His only early concern is his ability to defeat power players, which will come with more strength and development in his lower half of his body.

2019 Fantasy O-Line Outlook

The 49ers have the talent to be much better on the offensive line if their center improves his game. With Jimmy Garoppolo returning to the starting job, his ability to make reads and get rid of the ball will help lower the sack total. Possible top ten offensive line.

Offensive Schedule

San Francisco 49ers offensive schedule

The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).

This information is based on 2018, which will work as our starting point for 2019. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

  • LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2018.
  • Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
  • Adjustment is based on the 2018 league average and the 2018 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.

49ers Schedule Fantasy Outlook

The 49ers have two favorable matchups (ARI x 2) for their rushing offense plus a couple of mid-tier contents (CIN and CLE). San Fran will struggle to run the ball in three games (BAL, NO, and PIT).

Their pass schedule is about league average. They’ll have the best edge in three games (NO, CIN, and TB) following by three tough tests (BAL and ARI X 2) in the passing game.

49ers Offense Outlook

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Despite a downgrade at QB, San Francisco ran the ball better than expected. They ran the ball 44.3 percent of the time with below league average passing attempts (532). This season they’ll pass the ball better leading to growth in scoring.

Quarterbacks

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Jimmy Garoppolo

Fair Evaluation: The growth of George Kittle and Dante Pettis point to 4,500+ passing yards with a push toward 30+ passing TDs.

The mystique of Garoppolo was almost cult-like after his trade to the 49ers. Jimmy has seven career starts in the NFL, which all ended in victories. He’s completed 67.3 percent of his passes in the NFL. Over his five starts with San Francisco in 2017, Garoppolo passed for 1,560 yards with seven TDs and five Ints while gaining an incredible 8.8 yards per pass attempt. Defenses only sacked him eight times compared to the 35 sacks taken over the other 11 games. Jimmy passed for over 290 yards in four of his five starts last year with 20 completions over 20 yards with five of those passes gaining 40 yards or longer. Garoppolo had this breakdown in catches, yards, TDs, and targets to RBs (30/294/0 on 39 targets), WRs (64/842/2 on 100 targets), and TEs (23/412/3 on 31 targets) in his first five starts. His game is built to react to defenses by using the whole field and all his receiving options.

Last year Jimmy made three starts in 2018, which led to 718 passing yards with five TDs and three Ints. A torn ACL in his left knee ended his year. In 2018, the 49ers’ QBs passed for 4,247 yards with 26 passing TDs and 20 Ints. San Francisco should be ready for the regular season while trending in the right direction in mid-June.

From 2018 to 2019, the 49ers looked improved in the receiving core, which gives Garoppolo a chance at much better year.

Nick Mullens

There was a lot to like Mullens as the backup QB for the 49ers in 2018. After being pressed into action for eight starts, Nick went 3-5 while passing for 2,277 yards with 13 TDs and ten Ints. He averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt with his best success coming in two games (414/2 and 332/2). His growth boles well for San Fran if they have an injury at quarterback.

Other Options: C.J. Beathard, Wilton Speight

Running Backs

Tevin Coleman

Tevin Coleman

Fair Evaluation: Possible 800+ combined yards with double TDs and about 25 catches while being a tough ride in the Fantasy market with the 49ers expected to rotate in three RBs.

Last year Coleman had the most touches (199) of his career, which led to a career-high in combined yards (1,076 yards) with nine TDs and 32 catches. Over the last three years for the Falcons, Tevin gained 2,944 combined yards with 28 TDs and 90 catches while averaging 4.4 yards per rush and 11.1 yards per catch. Coleman has ties to the head coach with the Falcons. This season he’ll work in a split role in a similar fashion as his previous resume.

Update 8/19/2019: Tevin Coleman will naturally gain more chances in all areas with Jerick McKinnon out of the equation. Fantasy owners will be more attracted to him for sure while Breida becomes the better value at RB.

Jerick McKinnon

Fair Evaluation: With about 150 touches, Jerick projected to gain about 800 combined yards with about five and about 50 passes. His floor will be reasonable in PPR league due to his pass-catching ability, but Matt Breida may steal his opportunity.

After a relatively quiet start to his career (1,911 combined yards with seven TDs and 91 catches), McKinnon broke through with his best year in the NFL in 2017. He gained 991 combined yards with five TDs and 51 catches while working in a split role with Latavius Murray in Minnesota after the injury to Dalvin Cook. The Vikings gave him 13.7 rushes over seven games midseason, but Jerick gained only 3.8 yards per carry leading to Murray gaining momentum on early downs. McKinnon didn’t have a rushing TDs over his last eight games. He shined in two games as a receiver (6/72 and 7/114).

His season ended before the 2018 season started with torn ACL in his right knee.

Kyle Shanahan will use two RBs in his offense, and he did rotate two backs in his successful season with Falcons. I only see about eight rushes per game with a chance to catch about four balls each week.

Update 8/19/2019: Over the last week or so, the running back situation in the San Francisco has turned into a two-way rotation after Jerick McKinnon had a setback with his surgically repaired knee. I’m writing off McKinnon for the year while expecting him to land on the physically unable to perform list. I view him as a wasted draft pick going forward.

Matt Breida

Fair Evaluation: This season he’ll work as the change of pace back in 2019, especially in games when the 49ers play from the lead. His lack of upside in TDs and catches makes him the toughest RB to own in San Fran without an injury to increase his playing time.

In his second year in the NFL, Breida gained 1,075 combined yards with five TDs and 27 catches on 180 touches. He flashed explosiveness in four games (11/159/1 with three catches, 10/117 and three catches, 17/132/2 with three catches, and 14/106 with three catches). In between, Matt battled in-game injuries leading multiple early exits. He missed two games with an ankle injury that ended his year in Week 17. In May, Breida suffered a torn muscle in his chest.

Over three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida gained 4,304 combined yards with 40 TDs and 22 catches. He’s an undersized back (5’11” and 190 lbs.), but he offers strength and speed (4.38) highlight by his 8.7 yards per rush in 2014 and 7.9 in 2015. A change in coaching staff and injuries at QB led to a disappointing senior year (168/646/3) while gaining only 3.8 yards per rush.

Update 8/19/2019: The big winner for me in the 49ers’ RB rotation over the last week is Matt Breida. He’ll gain plenty of chances in the passing game while having a good camp in July. San Fran wanted to use him more in the passing game before the recent news on Jerick McKinnon. Breida brings big-play ability. When added to his value as a receiver, it creates a much higher floor and ceiling. Possible RB2 in PPR leagues while being drafted in the 9th round in the recent FFWC drafts.

Other Options: Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson

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Wide Receivers

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Dante Pettis

Fair Evaluation: His success over the second half of the year points to 65+ catches for 900+ yards and five to seven TDs.

Over the first six games, Pettis only had three catches for 96 yards and a TD in eight targets while missing time with a left knee issue. Over the last six games with starting snaps, Dante caught 24 balls for 371 yards and four TDs on 37 targets highlighted by his explosive game in Week 13 (5/129/2). Hs season ended in Week 17 with an MCL issue that didn’t require surgery.

Over four seasons at Washington, Pettis caught 163 passes for 2,256 yards and 24 TDs. His best season came in 2016 (53/822/15) as a junior. His quickness and open field ability point to much higher upside than Marquise Goodwin with both players lacking the frame to defeat physical corners.

Dante will upgrade the punt return game while showing the ability to set up defenders while getting them flatfooted. He won’t beat a CB with his deep speed alone, but his route running and quickness will create significant separation on double moves. Pettis has a DeSean Jackson feel while lacking the explosives on the outside. His hands grade well, but he won't make a significant impact until he adds more bulk and strength.

This offseason, he worked on getting stronger to win a starting job. His success over the second half of the year points to 65+ catches for 900+ yards and five to seven TDs.

Deebo Samuel

Fair Evaluation: Possible 50+ catches for 600+ yards and a handful of TDs.

Over four seasons at South Carolina, Samuel caught 148 passes for 2,076 yards and 16 TDs with some success as a runner in 2016 (15/98/6). His game is built on more power than finesse. In the open field, Deebo can make big plays with respectable speed (4.48 40 yards dash in the NFL combine) for his size (5’11” and 214 lbs.). He plays with an edge to his game, which made me think of a Hines Ward.

In his best year in college in 2018, Samuel only caught 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 TDs. His playing time was cut short in 2015 and 2017 due to hamstring injuries. More of a hard worker than a dynamic player. Deebo needs work on his route running while needing to prove he can beat press coverage. I expect him to piss off defenses at times, which will come from being at the right place at the right time after working on getting open or making the tough catch in traffic. His hands grade well.

His skill set points to him winning a WR3 role in the 49ers’ offense at a minimum. In the early OTAs, Samuel missed time with a groin issue that should be cleared up by training game. Possible 50+ catches for 600+ yards and a handful of TDs.

Update 8/19/2019: The 49ers desperately need upgrades at WR, which points to Deebo Samuel earning a starting opportunity. In the first preseason game, Samuel caught two passes for 61 yards while adding a 14-yard run. Viable backend flier who may gain value over the second half of the season.

Jordan Matthews

Fair Evaluation: Possible flier if his summer reports are positive.

After a solid start to his career with Eagles over three seasons (225 catches for 2,673 and 19 TDs on 346 targets), Matthews battled injuries over the last two years. He floundered in 2017 with the Bills (25/282/1 on 36 targets).

As bench player with the Eagles last season, Jordan did flash at times. He caught 20 of his 28 targets (71.4 percent) for 300 yards and two TDs. Matthews only had one game with over four targets (4/93 on five targets). His experience comes out of the slot, which may lead to him winning a starting job for the 49ers over the summer until their young WRs develop.

Update 8/19/2019: There hasn't been one good or bad report on Jordan Matthews in mid-August pointing to only a waiver wire player.

Marquise Goodwin

Fair Evaluation: More of an insurance play than a worthwhile speculative add. I don't trust his career path or his one year of success.

Goodwin entered 2017 with ten career starts over four seasons with the Bills. In his 39 games played, he had 49 catches for 780 yards and six TDs on 111 targets. His catch rate (44.1) was a huge problem.

For the first time in his career, Marquise stayed healthy for all 16 games last year leading to 56 catches for 962 yards and two TDs on 105 targets. He had three games with over 100 yards receiving (5/116, 6/106, and 10/114) with two of those game coming with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at QB. Over the last five games of the year, Goodwin caught 29 passes for 384 yards and one TD on 43 targets.

In 2018, Marquise suffered a thigh bruise in Week 1, which led no catches or targets. He missed two of the next four games with a short opportunity in his two starts (3/30/1 and 2/24). Goodwin flashed in Week 6 (4/126/2), but he failed to make an impact in his other seven games played (2/24, 1/55/1, 1/11, 4/69, 2/20, 1/7, and 3/29) while missing three other contests due to multiple injuries.

This season he may rebound with Jimmy Garoppolo back behind center, but Dante Pettis is the better player.

Update 8/19/2019: Marquise Goodwin left practice last week with a lower leg injury. He continues to move in the wrong direction, which may lead to him looking for a new home after the preseason.

Jalen Hurd

Fair Evaluation: Player to follow, but he may be a year away from being a viable Fantasy option.

Over his first two seasons at Tennessee in college, Hurd gained 2,595 combined yards with 21 TDs and 57 catches on 524 touches as running back. After an injury (concussion) in 2016, Jalen struggled to make plays (532 combined yards with three TDs and ten catches on 132 touches). He asked to switch to WR, but the Volunteers declined, leading to a transfer to Baylor.

After sitting out in 2017, Hurd played well in his first season at WR (69/946/4) while adding some value running the ball (48/209/3). Last December Jalen had minor knee surgery, which puts him behind the other 49ers’ WR receivers heading into training camp. His size (6’5” and 225 lbs.) gives him an edge in the red zone, but he needs more time to develop his wide receiving skills.

Trent Taylor

In each year at Louisiana Tech, Taylor had growth in his game and production. In his junior year, Trent caught 99 passes for 1,282 yards with nine TDs. The next season his game exploded to a whole different level (136/1803/2). He’s an undersized receiver (5’8” and 181 lbs.) with questionable speed (4.63) leading to unusual skill set. His quickness and short-area route running give him a chance to play in the slot while the ability to break a tackle with elusiveness in the open field. His lack of size invites durability concerns even with some toughness to his game.

If he was 5’10” and 200 Lbs., Trent would have drawn more interest in the draft as he stature and style would have a lot in common with Julian Edelman. Possession type WR with a chance to develop into a starting player. In 2017, he caught 43 of his 60 passes for 430 yards and two TDs with his best success coming Week 13 (6/92). Heading into 2018, Trent had minor back surgery that ultimately led to a disappointing season (26/215/1 on 40 targets).

Update 8/19/2019: Trent Taylor suffered a foot injury in August putting him on the shelve for a couple of months. Easy avoid in the Fantasy market.

Tight Ends

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle

George Kittle

Fair Evaluation: I can’t count on as many big plays in 2019, so I’ll lower his bar slightly to 80+ catches for 1,100+ yards and growth TDs.

A beast arose at TE in 2018. After a respectable rookie season (43/515/2 on 63 targets), Kittle saw his opportunity more than double last year. He caught 88 of his 136 targets for 1,377 yards and five TDs. George gained 15.6 yards per catch thanks to 20 catches over 20 yards with six of those gaining 40+ yards. Kittle posted four great games (6/125/1, 4/108/1, 7/210/1, and 9/149/1) while catching five passes or more in eight other games. In mid-June, he missed time in the early OTAs due to a hip injury.

This season the 49ers should have more depth and talent at WR, which may cost Kittle some chances. In 2018, San Fran’s TEs caught 95 passes for 1,481 yards and seven TDs on 146 targets.

Update 8/19/2019: George Kittle has been limited most of the summer with a calf issue, which may be a hint of a more significant problem. Over the last year, we’ve seen some Achilles problems emerge after a calf injury. If given a choice, I would err on the side of caution if you desire an elite TE by selecting Zack Ertz. His situation and value will change if his news turns more in a positive direction.

Other Options: Garrett Celek, Levine Toilolo, Kaden Smith, Ross Dwelley, Tyree Mayfield

Kicker

Robbie Gould

Fair Evaluation: I’m interested in Gould as a top ten kicker, but I have trust issue if San Fran decides to roll with Jonathan Brown.

With Robbie Gould failing to sign his franchise tag, the 49ers may be ready to change gears at kicker. They signed Jonathan Brown to a two-year deal in March for insurance. Jonathan is a former soccer player who failed to win the field goal job for the Bengals in multiple seasons.

In 2018, Gould made 33 of 34 field goals for San Fran with success as well in 2017 (39-for-41). Robbie has been exceptional from 50 yards or more in his career (29-for-37) with only two misses over his last 15 attempts from long range. In his career, Gould made 87.7 percent of his field goals with nine missed extra points in 140 chances over the previous five seasons.

San Francisco 49ers Defensive Schedule

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San Francisco has six tough matchups (CAR, BAL, LAR X 2, and SEA X 2) for their rushing defense with most of these tests coming over the second half of the year. The 49ers have five games (TB, PIT, ATL, and ARI x 2) vs. teams that struggled to run the ball last season.

Their pass schedule is close to league average, but San Fran does have plenty of contests that fall on both sides of the fence. They’ll have the best success vs. CIN, WAS, BAL, SEA (2), and ARI (2) while being challenged against TB, PIT, GB, ATL, and LAR (2).

49ers Defense

San Francisco ranked 14th in rushing yards allowed (1,814). They allowed only 34.1 yards per rush, but game score led to 27.8 attempts per game. Ball carriers scored 13 TDs with 11 runs over 20 yards.

The 49ers pushed their way to 11th in passing yards allowed (3,732) with 35 TDs and two Ints. QBs gained 7.3 yards per pass attempts with 49 completions over 20 yards. Their defense finished with 37 sacks.

Defensive Line

DT DeForest Buckner made a considerable stride in the pass rush in 2018, which led to 12 sacks. He finished with 67 tackles with three defended passes. He’s shown growth in each year in the NFL vs. the run. The 49ers drafted him 7th overall in 2016.

DT Solomon Thomas has yet to make an impact after San Fran added him to their team with the third overall pick in 2017. He’s barely an asset vs. the run with no shining moments sacking the QB (four career sacks over two seasons). Coming out of college, Thomas has an exciting combination of power and quickness to add plus value in the pass rush. Solomon will disrupt in both the run and the passing game. His size (6’3” and 273 lbs.) projects him to be in between DE and DT while knowing one thing for sure – his going to make an impact.

DE Dee Ford has 23 sacks over his last two full seasons covering 31 games. Last year he set career highs in tackles (55) and sacks (13) while forcing seven fumbles. Ford improved in each year in the NFL vs. the run. At best, Dee is now a league average player in run support.

DE Nick Bosa gives the 49ers another passing rushing option on the outside. He’ll disrupt in the pass rush and against the run. Bosa brings speed and power to San Fran's defense.

Linebackers

Kwon Alexander missed ten games last year with a torn ACL. In 2016, he picked up 145 tackles with three sacks, three sacks, one Int, and seven defended passes. In 2017, Alexander played in 12 games leading to 97 tackles, three Ints, and four defended passes. Kwon should be an upgrade to this defense once he’s healthy.

Dre Greenlaw will compete for a starting job after the 49ers added him in the 5th round in 2019. I expect him to add value defending the run thanks to his strength and quickness.

Fred Warner played well in his rookie season. He finished with 124 tackles and six defended passes. Warner will upgrade the pass coverage at linebacker while coming to the NFL with vision and an excellent feel for the game. His quickness is a plus while lacking the bulk to be an impact player against the run. Fred may be on the sidelines on early downs while needing to improve his motivation on more plays.

Secondary

CB Richard Sherman is no longer considered an impact cover corner. Last year he allowed the highest completion rate of his career with some big plays, but he did minimize the damage in TDs. With a better pass rush, Sherman should remain a neutral player even at the ripe old age of 31.

CB Ahkello Witherspoon allowed too many TDs in 2018 with no Ints. He held WRs to a low catch rate and short yards per catch. His game projects to be passive vs. the run with work needed in his technique when covering pass routes. Witherspoon has excellent speed and quickness for his size (6’3” and 198 lbs.). Toughness is required to make a further step in his all-around game. Ahkello has a chance to be a Richard Sherman type corner if he ever adds enough bulk and strength to handle the top physical WRs in press coverage.

S Jimmy Ward missed 21 games over the last three seasons. When healthy, Ward is an asset in run support while offering sure tackling. Over the previous two seasons, Jimmy allowed too many big plays in the passing game. The 49ers drafted him in the first round in 2014. In his only full season, Ward played well in coverage and vs. the run. The injury bug already hit him in the spring workouts (broken collar bone)>

S Jaquiski Tartt missed 15 games over the last two years. He tends to allow a high catch rate, but receivers gain short yards per catch. Last year he did show growth in run support. San Fran drafted him in the second round in 2015.

49ers Fantasy Defense Outlook

San Francisco’s defense is on the rise with plenty of talent on the defensive line to rush the QB. Their linebackers will have some risk on the outside, and the safety position remains in question due to injuries and inconsistency in their play. I expect their CBs to play better than expected helped by a shorter passing window by opposing QBs. In 2018, their defense managed only two Ints. This is a possible upside DST2 in 2019.


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