The hottest team to miss the playoffs last season aims to improve with their new franchise quarterback.
There’s a wave of optimism surrounding the San Francisco 49ers this season. GM Jon Lynch opened his pocketbook and awarded quarterback Jimmy Garoppollo a 137 million dollar contract despite only seeing him start the final five games of the 2017 season (all of which he won).
The team averaged 28.8 points per game in those contests and will look to build on the momentum heading into 2018.
Franchise Price Tag
A franchise quarterback is hard to find, which is why most NFL teams don’t have one. That being said, Jon Lynch may be one of the only GMs to give a quarterback with seven career NFL starts a lucrative five-year deal. Lynch told the media that he knew Garoppolo’s performance this upcoming season would’ve only upped his price tag.
While a vote of confidence from the front office is nice, it will be interesting to see how Coach Kyle Shanahan and his franchise quarterback react to adversity with such large expectations on their shoulders.
The team appears to have improved on paper, albeit with a few question marks.
An improved offensive line should help protect Jimmy G, but it remains to be seen how receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin will produce with new signee Jerick McKinnon expecting to get catches out of the backfield.
Avoiding the injury bug will be important for everyone, but the health and mobility of the offensive line will be key for Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme to succeed. Garoppollo needs to stay healthy if he wishes to build chemistry with his improved choir of pass catchers.
On defense, the addition of Richard Sherman made some headlines, despite the corner’s age and injury issues. A suspension to linebacker Reuben Foster and a trio of young defensive lineman all remain storylines to watch on the defensive side of the ball heading into 2018.
Will Reality Set In?
Garoppollo will lose his first few games as a starter.
Here’s a shocking prediction that everyone can bet on: the 49ers aren’t going undefeated this season. I’ll go one further and make another guarantee: Garoppollo will lose his first few games as a starter. Now that you’ve had a second to catch your breath, I’ll move on.
The real test for the 49ers this season will be seeing how they react to adversity. It’s easy to stay positive when everything is going well.
I realize that this team was 1-10 before Garoppollo took over, but an early loss this season could kill any momentum carried over in the locker room.
Week 1 at Minnesota Vikings
That bold prediction I had earlier? I think it begins here. A more complete Vikings squad sends Jimmy G home with his first NFL loss.
Week 2 vs. Detroit Lions
Two of the league’s highest paid quarterbacks battle against each other despite neither being in the playoffs last season. Funny how this league works. 49ers prevail.
Week 3 at Kansas City Chiefs
Two teams with promising young quarterbacks that also have questionable defenses face off. Mahomes gets the slight edge and hands the 49ers their second loss of the season.
Week 4 at Los Angeles Chargers
The 49er fans have a strong showing but Phillip Rivers finds a way to win and hands San Francisco their third loss.
Week 5 vs. Arizona Cardinals
A divisional opponent is the perfect place to turn a season around, and the 49ers get back on track against the Cards.
Week 6 at Green Bay Packers
Monday night at Lambeau against Rodgers? I don’t like many people’s odds in that situation.
Week 7 vs. Los Angeles Rams
A Sunday night showdown against a new division rival should make for a great atmosphere. I think the 49ers shock the division and get a win.
Week 8 at Arizona Cardinals
The 49ers complete the sweep. Sorry, Arizona.
Week 9 vs. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are beginning to find their groove under new coach Jon Gruden, but his pupil Kyle Shanahan gets the better of him.
Week 10 vs. New York Giants
What’s that, a four game winning streak? Garoppollo begins to get adjusted to his offense at the right time and the 49ers defeat the Giants at home.
Week 11: Bye
Week 12 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis finds some success against the 49ers secondary and snatches a win at home.
Week 13 at Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson proves too much to handle for the Niners defense on the road.
Week 14 vs. Denver Broncos
They get things back on track against Denver and begin a three-game home streak with a victory.
Week 15 vs. Seattle Seahawks
For the second time in three weeks, the Seahawks challenge the Niners. This time, the offense of San Francisco makes it happen and snatches a divisional win.
Week 16 vs. Chicago Bears
An improved Chicago team prove tough, but the Niners continue their playoff push with a win.
Week 17 at Los Angeles Rams Loss
All good things must come to an end. The Rams cement their reign on the division with a victory to end the season.
TOTAL PREDICTED WINS: 9