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Know Your Enemy: San Francisco 49ers

Next up for Know Your Enemy is the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have sandwiched two (2) injury riddle years around a 2019 season Super Bowl appearance. Jimmy Garropolo was hurt again and only played 6 games (92.1 QB rating). Kyle Shanahan returns after the 49ers were 6-10 (1-7 at home and 5-3 away). DC Robert Saleh still got a head coaching job with the Jets due to how he kept the defense together despite injuries. DeMeco Ryans replaces Saleh as the DC with Mike McDaniel as the OC. 49ers look to rebound and get back to Super Bowl form despite some changes.

Strengths

Front 7

Nick Bosa returns after missing most of 2020. He is a monster DE and will be a game changer for the San Fran defense. Arik Armstead (3.5 sacks) is still a solid DT/DE in run game and Dee Ford returns from injury as well to boost the pass rush. 2020 1st round pick Javon Kinlaw looks to progress in year 2. Zach Kerr and Maurice Hurst are veteran 4-3 DTs for Ryans’ new defense.

Fred Warner (1st of 83 LBs) is one of the best MIKE LBs in football. Dre Greenlaw is a solid cover SAM LB (30 of 83 LBs). Samsum Ebukam joins the 49ers at Will in free agency from the Rams.

49ers will be strong up front in 2021 but lack some depth in the front 7.

Run Game and Offensive Line

Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers offensive line makes it work every year in the run game. Raheem Mostert only played 8 games due to injury but had 5 YPC. Jeff Wilson had 4.8 YPC and 600 yards and returns. Wayne Gallman and 3rd round pick Trey Sirmon was added for depth to bolster the run game. Trent Williams (1st LT), Laken Tomlinson (8th guard), Alex Mack, center now guard Daniel Bruskill (24th of 36 centers) and RT Mike McGlinchey (19th of 79 tackles) can all block well. Aaron Banks was drafted in Round 2 from Notre Dame to compete at guard with Bruskill. Shon Coleman, 2020 5th round pick (McKivitz) and 2021 5th round pick (Moore) compete for tackle depth. George Kittle is a solid blocker too at tight end. The 49ers will run the ball well. If Trey Lance plays, they will have a QB running threat too.

Solid but Some Holes

Weapons and Passing Game

George Kittle is a beast tight end coming off an injured year. He will dominate again. Deebo Samuel is a solid slot man and Brandon Aiyuk looks to progress in year 2 at WR. Mohammend Sanu, Richie Hurd, Travis Benjmain and will need to step up as the third and 4th options in the passing game.

Jimmy Garropolo may be the starter but needs to stay healthy. His 92 rating was down from 2019 (102 rating) in the 6 games he played during 2020. The 49ers made a huge trade up in the draft to pick 3 and took QB Trey Lance. Lance has immense potential but is a project from North Dakota State only playing one game in 2020. Lance may sit a year while Garropolo gets one last chance for the 49ers. If he plays well, Jimmy G could be trade bait next offseason.

Secondary

Jason Verett (8th out of 121 CBs) finally stayed healthy and had a very good 2020 season. Dontae Johnson is a solid number 2 CB and K’Waun Williams returns at nickel. Ambry Thomas is a rookie drafted in Round 3 along with 5th rounder Deommodore Lenoir for depth. Richard Sherman is still a free agent and won’t return after being a cap cut. Emmanuel Moseley was below average in over 400 snaps too.

Safety is strong with Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt. Ward can play the slot too and both should be relied up on the back-end for San Francisco. Tarvarius Moore, Tavon Wilson and Tony Jefferson is experienced depth at safety. 49ers have some questions in secondary but can be masked with scheme and pass rush.

Schedule

The 49ers travel to Detroit in Week 1 to open the season and to Chicago in Week 8. The 49ers host the Packers in Week 3 on Sunday Night Football and Minnesota in Week 12. San Fran was better on the road this year and could continue this trend against the NFC North. 49ers could be really good like 2019 or fall flat like 2018/2020. Big variance based on injuries, QB situation and new defensive coordinator.