The 49ers went from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2019 with a 13-3 record to finishing last in a competitive NFC West and missing the playoffs (+270) with a 6-10 record (7-9 ATS). San Francisco had a miserable time trying to repeat as NFC champions as they simply couldn’t stay healthy after their 19-game run in 2019. San Francisco easily paced the league with 326 games missed because of injury in 2020. Nick Bosa (ACL), George Kittle (foot), Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle), Dee Ford (back), Deebo Samuel (foot/hamstring), Raheem Mostert (ankle), Weston Richburg (knee), Richard Sherman (calf), K’Waun Williams (ankle), and Jaquiski Tartt (toe) were among the key players who missed significant time. San Francisco not only struggled to stay healthy, but they also had to relocate the organization to Arizona for the final month of 2020 after Santa Clara County gave them the boot over COVID-19 restrictions.
The 49ers allowed the 16th-most points per game (24.4) and they scored the 12th-fewest points per game (23.5), which resulted in an 8-8 totals mark. San Francisco ended the year with a 3-5 record in one-score games and a 3-2 record in games decided by three scores or more, and they finished with the league’s 16th-worst point differential (-14).
San Francisco’s 2021 win total (10.5) fell by half a victory after its injury-riddled campaign and a slow off-season. The 49ers fell below their 2020 win total by a whopping five games and they locked up the under with their sixth loss of the season against the Saints in Week 10. Entering this season, I have the 49ers power rated as the eighth-best team in the NFL (+1400 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the fourth-best team in the NFC (+650 to win the conference), and as the second-best team in the NFC West (+180).
Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.
|3||Green Bay Packers||-5||8:20|
|10||Los Angeles Rams||-3||8:15 (Mon)|
|16||@Tennessee Titans||-2||8:20 (Thurs)|
|18||@Los Angeles Rams||+3||4:25|
The 49ers will face the easiest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football) thanks to five matchups with teams lined at 6.5 wins or worse in the Lions, Eagles, Jaguars, Bengals, and Texans. They also have additional matchups against the Cardinals (x2), Bears, and Falcons who are each lined at eight wins or worse. The 49ers caught a break since they’re one of 11 teams that won’t face an opponent coming off of a bye this season. They also have two games against opponents coming off MNF games the week before in the Packers (W3) and Seahawks (W13).
It’s not surprising that the 49ers don’t have many difficult stretches on their schedule. They’ll face off against three teams lined at 9+ wins in the Rams, Vikings, and Seahawks in Weeks 10-13 with a matchup with the Jaguars sandwiched in the middle. San Francisco has the chance to get out of the gates fast against the Lions and Eagles, but they’re just one of four teams that open with two road games. The NFL also scheduled them for five primetime games this season, which created two short-week road games. They’ll play in Jacksonville in Week 11 after playing the Rams on MNF the week before and they’ll head to Tennessee on TNF in Week 16.
Key Off-season Moves
|Alex Mack (C)||Trey Lance (QB)||C.J. Beathard (QB, Jax)|
|Zach Kerr (DL)||Aaron Banks (OG)||Tevin Coleman (RB, NYJ)|
|Samson Ebukam (LB)||Trey Sermon (RB)||Jerick McKinnon (RB, KC)|
|Arden Key (DE)||Ambry Thomas (CB)||Kendrick Bourne (WR, NE)|
|Wayne Gallman (RB)||Jordan Reed (TE, retired)|
|Bennie Fowler (WR)||Ben Garland (C)|
|Mohamed Sanu (WR)||Ezekiel Ansah (DE)|
|MyCole Pruitt (TE)||Solomon Thomas (DE, LV)|
|Kerry Hyder (DT, Sea)|
|Richard Sherman (CB)|
|Ahkello Witherspoon (CB, Sea)|
|Marquise Goodwin (WR, Chi)|
2021 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||10.5 (+105/-125)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 10.5 (+123) in late March to 10.5 (+105)
Super Bowl: +1400 in early February to +1400
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The 49ers deserve a pass for their miserable 6-10 record from last season, which included a relocation to Arizona for the final month of the season. San Francisco easily had the worst injury luck in the league last season as it finished with the most adjusted games lost (per Football Outsiders), which came a year after they played into February and lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers should have much better injury luck this season and the NFL rewarded their bad luck with the league’s easiest schedule. They have five matchups with teams lined at 6.5 wins or worse in the Lions, Eagles, Jaguars, Bengals, and Texans.
HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch are hoping the raw Trey Lance can get them over the hump this season (and beyond) after trading significant capital to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 to select him. The 49ers aren’t necessarily in a rush to get Lance on the field early this season, but he’ll have an explosive receiving corps to work with once he steps onto the field. George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel form the most dynamic trio in the league after the catch so Lance just needs to get the ball in their hands and let them do the work. Lance will get plenty of help getting the rock to his playmakers from arguably the best offensive schemer in the league in Shanahan.
The 49ers could also have a formidable defense once again with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford returning to the lineup after they combined to play in just three games last season. They could have one of the better defensive lines once again after a disastrous campaign last year if 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw improves off a shaky first season. Fred Warner has developed into one of the best linebackers in the league to round out one of the best front sevens in the league.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The 49ers have been a boom-or-bust franchise over the last 18 seasons. They have just four winning seasons in that span and they’ve reached at least the NFC Championship in each of those seasons. They’ve continued their streaky ways under Shanahan the last four seasons, finishing with more than six victories just once, which was their 13-win campaign that ended with a Super Bowl loss in 2019. San Francisco has an easy schedule to bounce back against this season, but they still need to navigate through the gauntlet that is the NFC West, which is the toughest division in the league based on win totals.
The 49ers have a pretty complete roster but their secondary is the one area to be concerned about, especially if injuries become an issue. S Jaquiski Tartt has played in more than nine games just once the last four years, S Jimmie Ward has missed 21 games over the last five years, and CB Jason Verrett has an ugly history of injuries before playing in 13 games last season. They also lost CB Richard Sherman this off-season without any major additions so their depth would be tested if they lose a player or two in the secondary.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
George Kittle: receiving yards (1025.5), receptions (82.5), receiving TDs (5.5), OPOY (+1200), Comeback POY (+1000), most receiving yards (+5000)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1000), receptions (77) receiving TDs (5)
Best-Case Scenario: Kittle remains the top option in San Francisco’s passing attack and he gets back to dominating after the catch for the duration of the season.
Worst-Case-Scenario: After missing eight games last season, Kittle’s injury issues creep back in and he falls short of 1000 receiving yards for a second straight season after doing it in 2018-19.
Deebo Samuel: receiving yards (895.5), receiving TDs (4.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (990), receiving TDs (7.5)
- Best-Case Scenario: Deebo is back to full strength and he remains a menace with the ball in his hands, which helps him reach 900+ receiving yards for the first time in his three-year career.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: Samuel fails to see enough targets and he’s the clear #3 receiver behind George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in one of the league’s run-heaviest offenses.
Brandon Aiyuk: receiving yards (875.5), receptions (67.5), receiving TDs (5.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1035), receptions (72), receiving TDs (7)
- Best-Case Scenario: After averaging 5.0 catches and 62.3 receiving yards as a rookie, Aiyuk continues to ascend in his second season and he holds off Deebo Samuel to be the #1 WR.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: George Kittle remains the focal point of San Francisco’s passing attack and Aiyuk slips behind a fully healthy Deebo Samuel, who struggled through foot and hamstring injuries last season.
San Francisco 49ers over 10.5 wins (+105, DraftKings). Risk one unit to win 1.05 units
San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC West (+200, Caesars). Risk one unit to win two units.
The 49ers come into the 2021 season as one of the more motivated teams in the league as they’re looking to prove that their run to the Super Bowl during the 2019 season was no fluke. Injuries ravaged their roster last season, which resulted in a seven-loss swing from 2019 (13-3 record) to 2020 (6-10). San Francisco still finished sixth in defensive DVOA last season despite a number of injuries to key players like Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. The 49ers have one of the league’s better rosters and they traded up to draft QB Trey Lance, who they’re hoping can put this roster over the top as a rookie. The 49ers have the luxury of being able to bring him along slowly, if needed, with Jimmy Garoppolo still on the roster, and they get a friendly pair of road games to open the season against the Lions and Eagles. In fact, they have the league’s easiest schedule entering the season, which played a major factor in my love for the 49ers to go over their win total this season. The NFC West is arguably the best division in the league and it will be difficult to navigate this season, but San Francisco has the roster and schedule to get to 11+ wins to win the division.
Trey Lance to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (+900, FanDuel, May 14). Risk half a unit to 4.5 units — Lance is more likely to be on the sidelines to open the season than in the starting lineup, but starting in Week 1 is not a prerequisite to winning the award like Justin Herbert showed last year. It’s more important to have a strong end to the season since those data points will be freshest in the voters’ minds, and he’ll be quarterbacking a team that has the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl at DraftKings. Lance has been speeding up his timeline to be the team’s starting quarterback by turning plenty of heads to open training camp. Lance will have the league’s most dynamic receivers after the catch at his disposal, and he’ll get plenty of help getting the rock to his playmakers from arguably the best offensive schemer in the league in Kyle Shanahan.
None of note.