2021 Franchise Focus: San Francisco 49ers


We hope you're enjoying this old content for FREE. You can view more current content marked with a FREE banner, but you'll have to sign up in order to access our other articles and content!

2021 Franchise Focus: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have never been boring during the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan regime, and this year is likely to be no different, with fantasy players just wondering when rookie QB Trey Lance will take over for the oft-injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

With Shanahan already one of the league’s best play designers, especially in the run game, a mobile QB will just open new opportunities for San Francisco. But Shanahan also has an intriguing receiving corps at his disposal, with rising second-year star Brandon Aiyuk, YAC god George Kittle, and the explosive Deebo Samuel.

If things click and the 49ers avoid the injury bug that absolutely crippled them last year, this could be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire NFL.

San Francisco 49ers Franchise Focus Companion Podcast

The Basics

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)10.5 (+105/-125)
NFC West+190
Playoffs (Y/N)-200/+150
NFC Championship+650
Super Bowl+1400

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 10.5 (+123) in late March to 10.5 (+105)

  • Super Bowl: +1400 in early February to +1400

Premium 2021 Betting Preview from Tom Brolley found here.

Key Offseason Moves

Nate Sudfeld (QB)Trey Lance (QB)C.J. Beathard (QB, Jax)
Senio Kelemete (OG)Aaron Banks (OG)Ben Garland (OC)
Alex Mack (OC)Jaylon Moore (OG)Weston Richburg (OC, retired)
Wayne Gallman (RB)Trey Sermon (RB)Tevin Coleman (RB, NYJ)
Mohamed Sanu (WR)Elijah Mitchell (RB)Jerick McKinnon (RB, KC)
Austin Watkins (WR, UDFA)Ambry Thomas (CB)Kendrick Bourne (WR, NE)
MyCole Pruitt (TE)Deommodore Lenoir (CB)Marquise Goodwin (WR, Chi)
Maurice Hurst (DT)Talanoa Hufanga (S)Jordan Reed (TE, retired)
Zach Kerr (DT)Solomon Thomas (DT, LV)
Arden Key (DE)Kerry Hyder (DT, Sea)
Eddie Yarbrough (DE)Ezekiel Ansah (DE)
Samson Ebukam (OLB)Richard Sherman (CB)
Justin Hilliard (ILB, UDFA)Ahkello Witherspoon (CB, Sea)
Mark Fields (CB)Jamar Taylor (CB)
Tavon Wilson (S)
Tony Jefferson (S)

Scott Barrett’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule

Quarterback: 2nd-softest (+0.86)

Running Back: 5th-softest (+0.96)

Wide Receivers: overall softest (+1.86)

Tight Ends: 14th-toughest (-0.03)

Pace and Tendencies

Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.4 (30th)

Plays per game: 64.9 (12th)

When the game is within a score — Pass: 53.8% (25th) | Run: 46.2% (8th)

When the team is ahead — Pass: 49.5% (18th) | Run: 50.5% (15th)

When the team is behind — Pass: 69.6% (7th) | Run: 30.4% (26th)

The injury bug bit the 49ers hard last season, resulting in their offense finishing the year 21st in points scored per game and 22nd in yards gained per drive. Even with so many injuries in their running back room, HC Kyle Shanahan remained steadfast with the run game as the 49ers were the eighth-most run-heavy squad when the game was within a score. With Trey Lance coming up on the horizon, the 49ers will likely lean even more heavily on the run in 2021 to take advantage of Lance’s wheels. The closest comparison to

Key Statistics

  • Obviously all of their injuries played a part in this, but the 49ers fell to 23rd in points scored per drive last season. In 2019, they were 4th in points scored per drive.

  • Since the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017, they’ve averaged 27.8 points per game in his starts and just 20.2 PPG when he’s out.

  • HC Kyle Shanahan remained extremely run-heavy last year and ran the ball on 46% of their plays when the game was within a score (fifth-highest rate).

  • Jeff Wilson was the Niners’ most efficient and effective runner, averaging 3.0 yards after contact and a 46% success rate on his carries per SIS.

  • Raheem Mostert averaged 2.5 YAC and a 43% success rate.

  • Over the last four seasons with Shanahan calling plays, the 49ers RB group has finished 8th, 15th, 4th, and 3rd in fantasy points scored as a team.

  • Brandon Aiyuk averaged 15.4 fantasy points per game in his rookie season, which is sixth-most by a rookie WR since 2010.

  • From Week 7-15, Aiyuk finished as a WR2 or better (top-24) in every game and never dipped below 17.5 points.

  • Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel only played in four games together when they were all healthy. In those four games, Kittle saw 40 targets for a massive 29% share while Samuel saw 22 looks and Aiyuk had 21.

  • Over the full season, Kittle saw 24% of the 49ers targets when healthy, which ranked fourth among TEs behind Waller (28%), Kelce (25%), and Andrews (25%).

  • Since 2018, George Kittle leads all tight ends in yards gained per route run (2.79). The remaining top-5: Darren Waller (2.34), Travis Kelce (2.24), Mark Andrews (2.10), and Tyler Higbee (1.80).

Huber’s Scheme Notes


Fifth-year GM John Lynch was tested this offseason. After a season in which the 49ers finished 6-10, a massive 40% ($79.4 million) of the 2020 salary cap was devoted to players on injured reserve. When the dust settled, Lynch cleared $49.7 million off the books with some difficult personnel decisions. Mainly due to efforts to get under the $182.5 million 2021 salary cap, Lynch only used 32% of that money on free agent acquisitions. Another 5.5% wound up in the pockets of San Francisco’s draft selections, most of which ($6.2 million) went to Trey Lance. HC Kyle Shanahan has already made it clear that it will be nearly impossible for Lance to unseat Jimmy Garoppolo in camp. If last season’s nagging ankle injury rears its ugly head again, Lance won’t need to do anything to get his first taste of NFL action.

We won’t know for sure until a few games into the season under new OC Mike McDaniel, but we shouldn’t expect the rate of play action to drop while Shanahan is running the show. Last season, Garoppolo used play action on one-third of all passing attempts. It’s a Shanahan staple providing his QBs with additional space to work. In order to pull it off, you need to force the defense to account for multiple read keys, and a stout rushing attack. As for Garoppolo, he’s actually been quite good with the 49ers in his coverage reads. His most glaring weakness has been when facing Cover 2. But he falls inside the top-10 among 52 qualified QBs over the last three seasons against Cover 3, Cover 4, and Cover 6. Shanahan is not satisfied with “quite good.” He has his sights set on his offense being led by an elite playmaker.

When your offense runs the ball at the 11th-highest rate — passing at the 11th-lowest, the fact that your O-line specializes as being a mauling run blocking meat-grinder, to an extent, you can forgive them for permitting the 10th-highest rate of QB pressures. Lynch hit the jackpot at the conclusion of the Washington-Trent Williams saga, picking up one of the top left tackles in the NFL at the high-end peak of his career. Williams pairs with 2018 first-rounder Mike McGlinchey to form one of the finest tackle combos around. Unlike the GMs for the Packers (Brian Gutekunst) and Steelers (Kevin Colbert), Lynch did not settle on questionable depth options to fill his pressing O-line starter issues. Taking advantage of a down season from Alex Mack blocking for the diminished talents of Todd Gurley II, Lynch brought in the 12-year veteran to replace Ben Garland, and to allow Daniel Brunskill to shift back to right guard, his natural position. Last but not least, run-blocking specialist Laken Tomlinson provides the pull-happy offense with a monster at left guard.

The O-line is impressive, but don’t let that dissuade you from thinking the RBs deserve none of the credit. The departures of Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon helped Lynch clear a combined $7.8 million in cap dollars. To replace them, he hit a light-tower home run that cleared the stadium with Trey Sermon (Ohio State) in the third round, and Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana) in the sixth. How good is Sermon? Had he not dealt with a pair of freak injuries, we would have heard his name called in the first round. In addition to gaining 60% of his 3,000-plus collegiate rushing yardage after first contact, he closed out his ‘20 season earning 360 yards after contact and 28 broken tackles against Northwestern and Clemson. If we account for my rock-solid belief that he was the top RB prospect with Counter blocking, and only trailed Javonte Williams when working behind a pulling O-lineman, the height of his ceiling comes into view.

With Mitchell, San Francisco collected their change-of-pace back of the future. Sermon has already emerged in OTAs and camp as a direct threat to Raheem Mostert in the pecking order. Jeff Wilson Jr. has always been more of a special team’s ace than a preferred option in the backfield for Shanahan. But his hand has been forced in multiple seasons due to a multitude of injuries. Now it’s Wilson who will miss a chunk of the season due to injury. That opens the door for Sermon potentially splitting work with Mostert. However, Mostert and Wayne Gallman Jr. will be unrestricted free agents next season, so the Lance-Sermon-Mitchell show will likely be fully unveiled.

With the clever play-calling of Shanahan manipulating defenses, it won’t take Lance very long to showcase QB1 fantasy scoring. In addition to his ground game powered by being built like an EDGE rusher, Lance will have George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk at his disposal. And we should all be prepared for another 90-plus reception, 1,000-yard season for Kittle. While I do have some concerns with Lance’s intermediate accuracy, there are zero concerns on his short stuff. And he packs along one of the strongest arms in football. Both talents perfectly feed Kittle’s receiving profile. In addition, Lance’s short game will play into Samuel’s 2.2 air yard/target average, YAC-ability, and his cannon-for-an-arm will fuel Aiyuk over the top.

This offense is just as good as the one that took the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV. And that assessment holds up with Garoppolo under center. The O-line depth is somewhat of a concern, but would be erased if ‘21 second-rounder Aaron Banks quickly develops. But the starters along the O-line, Kittle’s generational blocking, and an underrated RB group combine to present one of the top-three rushing attacks in the NFL. Considering the SF roster is the second-oldest entering the season, there is no time better than the present to go all in on another run at a title.


With most of his draft capital spent on offense, GM John Lynch took to free agency to boost his defense. But none of the free agent signings compare to the return of superstud EDGE rusher Nick Bosa from a torn ACL. The loss of Bosa and DeForest Buckner (trade) led to a rare down season for the 49ers’ pass rush. Ranking with the eighth-lowest rate of QB pressures, former DC Robert Saleh tried just about every personnel combination along his D-line to extract production. It certainly didn’t help that Javon Kinlaw — selected with the first-rounder acquired for Buckner — struggled mightily during his rookie season. The only contributor along the D-line that lived up to billing proved to be Arik Armstead. Free agent additions Samson Ebukam, Maurice Hurst, and Zach Kerr are being counted on to further boost the pass rush.

As the D-line struggled, perhaps the top NFL defensive breakout was entered from MIKE Fred Warner. It was a performance that resulted in recently signing a five-year, $95 million extension — $40.5 guaranteed — to make him the highest-paid inside LB in the NFL. Warner permitted the seventh-fewest yards/coverage snap (YPCS), 10th-fewest FPs/coverage snap (FPCS), the fourth-lowest passer rating on targets into his coverage among 47 qualified box LBs. His presence should be a massive concern whenever making lineup decisions on receiving RBs. His WILL running mate, Dre Greenlaw, was solid, but took a step back from a strong rookie season.

New DC DeMeco Ryans spent the previous three seasons under Saleh, so the expectation is for the ‘9ers to maintain its previous scheme rotation. Ryans will need to deal with the departures of Richard Sherman’s elite skills, and ‘20 breakout Ahkello Witherspoon. We know the right side will continue to be locked down by Jason Verrett’s elite cover skills. Verrett posted an extraordinary ‘20 season with top-10 metrics in YPCS, FPCS, passer rating on targets into his coverage, and air yards/coverage snap (AYCS). On the other sideline, things are not quite as promising. It appears longtime backup Dontae Johnson will receive the first opportunity to start. His ‘20 numbers are sharp, he will just need to carry that success over a full season without any drop-off whatsoever.

K’Waun Williams is another defender who emerged with top-10 ranks in YPCS, FPCS, passer rating on targets into his coverage, and air yards/coverage snap (AYCS). He’ll work out of the slot at Nickel with very little depth behind him. The 49ers depend on their pass rush getting home in order to aid their league-leading rate of Cover 4 (Zone) — the most vulnerable coverage to the pass. They mix in competitive rates of Cover 3 and Cover 6 that have puzzled a long list of QBs over the last couple seasons. Ryans will also want to see improved play from both strong safety Jaquiski Tartt and free safety Jimmie Ward. The secondary was particularly vulnerable to the deep ball, something Ryans will no doubt focus on correcting.

This is a defense that will need several players to emerge at key positions in order to submit a special season. Even if the D-line quickly meshes in order to build the pass rush they entirely lacked last season, too many issues exist in the secondary to expect much more than a quick playoff exit. Unlike the offense, the issues for the defense go much deeper than depth concerns. That said, Lynch has put together an exciting core of youngsters on offense. And we know Lynch is more than capable of piecing together his defensive personnel, perhaps doing so quickly enough to make a run at another Super Bowl in 2022.

Projected Fantasy Contributors

Trey Lance (Proj: QB28 | ADP: 145 | Pos ADP: QB19)

Lance comes into the league with extremely limited experience playing at the FCS level, which didn’t deter HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch from drafting Lance over Mac Jones at No. 3. Lance played at North Dakota State — like Carson Wentz before him — and he has just 17 starts under his belt coming into the league, which included just one exhibition game in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. He incredibly didn’t throw an interception in 16 games as a sophomore in 2019 while throwing for 28 TDs. Lance averaged a pedestrian 174.1 passing yards per game, but he did average 9.7 YPA and he added 68.8 rushing yards per game with 14 rushing scores. He’s easily the most intriguing prospect in this year’s quarterback class because of his lack of experience, but he has the size (6’3”, 224 pounds), athleticism, and arm strength to develop into a high-level quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely open the season as the team’s starting quarterback, but he’s going to have to play at a high level to keep Lance off the field for long. Lance will be given every opportunity to rise up the depth chart and he has a reputation for being a great leader and a sharp kid. 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. Shanahan also has to be itching to design some quarterback runs since he hasn’t worked with a truly mobile QB since his time in Washington with Robert Griffin III. Lance may not open the season as the starter, but he’s still a mid-QB2 to target in every format because his rushing ability gives him QB1 upside as soon as he enters the starting lineup.

Jimmy Garoppolo (Proj: QB31 | ADP: 243 | Pos ADP: QB34)

HC Kyle Shanahan was sick of waiting around to see if Jimmy G could stay healthy to put it all together to become one of the league’s better quarterbacks. Garoppolo led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his one healthy season with San Francisco in 2019 but he played in just 9-of-32 in 2018 (ACL) and 2020 (high-ankle). The 49ers did something about it this off-season by trading up from No. 12 to No. 3 to select the new face of the franchise in Trey Lance. Shanahan has called Jimmy G the team’s starting quarterback this summer, and he’s been working with the first-team offense in off-season workouts and at the start of training camp. It’s still only a matter of time before the reins are handed over to Lance this season to see if he can unlock their championship potential. Garoppolo is going to have to play at an extremely high level while winning a lot of games to fend off Lance for as long as possible. Jimmy G is capable of doing it as he completed 69.1% of his passes and he averaged 8.4 YPA when he led the 49ers to a 13-3 record in 2019. He wasn’t fantastic for our purposes as he finished as the QB21 with 15.5 FPG that season, and he’ll be a low-end QB2 option in his starts this season since the passing volume will be limited and he doesn’t run much. Garoppolo is likely to start games early in the season if you’re looking for a cheaper option in two-QB leagues but make sure to have a backup plan for when Lance eventually takes over as the team’s starter.

Trey Sermon (Proj: RB29 | ADP: 72 | Pos ADP: RB29)

HC Kyle Shanahan loves to keep a full stable of running backs at his disposal, and the 49ers added to their backfield by trading up to No. 88 to select Sermon this spring. Sermon joined Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Wayne Gallman, and JaMycal Hasty in San Francisco’s competition for playing time this season — the 49ers also drafted Elijah Mitchell on Day Three. Sermon has plenty of experience playing in crowded backfields at Oklahoma and Ohio State, which limited him to fewer than 500 touches in four seasons. He busted out in a big way late last year, averaging 7.5 YPC for the season while totaling 636/4 rushing in his final three full games against Ohio State’s toughest competition. Sermon has great size (6’0”, 215 pounds) and good contact balance to develop into a volume runner, but he doesn’t have game-breaking speed (4.57 40-time). He also wasn’t asked to do much as a receiver with just 48 career catches but he does have skills to become a better receiver in the NFL. He’s a good fit for Shanahan’s offense after running plenty of outside-zone schemes at Ohio State last season. Sermon landed in a pristine spot for dynasty leagues since Mostert, Wilson, and Gallman are each signed only through the 2021 season. Sermon received plenty of work with the first-team offense during off-season workouts, and he has a solid chance to eventually become the lead runner in one of the league’s best rushing attacks this season with Mostert sliding into an explosive, change-of-pace role. Sermon is worth a look as an RB3 in the middle rounds, and he has the potential to emerge as a mid-RB2 if he can lead this backfield in touches.

Raheem Mostert (Proj: RB30 | ADP: 76 | Pos ADP: RB30)

Mostert burst onto the scene with 10 touchdowns during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run in 2019 at the ripe old age of 27. His body prevented him from backing it up in 2020 as he played in just eight games because of a high-ankle sprain. Mostert was still highly effective when he did play, posting 104/521/2 rushing (5.0 YPC) and 16/156/1 receiving on 19 targets in eight contests. HC Kyle Shanahan prioritized bringing in some bigger, sturdier backs this off-season by signing Wayne Gallman and by trading up to draft Trey Sermon in the third round. Shanahan will pair those bigger backs with his sub-200-pound backs in Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Shanahan ideally wants Sermon to become the team’s lead runner with Mostert serving as Sermon’s 1B as the team’s dynamic change-of-pace option. Mostert won Big Ten sprinting titles while at Purdue in 2014 — 60m/100m indoor and 100m/200m outdoor — and he’s one of the most explosive players in any backfield. He actually holds an RB-best 5.7 YPC average since 2018 (275/1554/11 rushing), and he trails only Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson overall. If Sermon is ready for a big role as a rookie, Shanahan would love to be able to pick his spots with Mostert a little more judiciously after he struggled to stay healthy last season. Mostert could be a little more boom-or-bust this season if he’s hovering in the 8-12 touches per game range, but he has some upside as an RB3 if Sermon isn’t ready to take on the lead runner role.

Jeff Wilson (Proj: RB59 | ADP: 228 | Pos ADP: RB65)

Wilson suffered a torn meniscus training for the upcoming season and he was given a 4-6 recovery period for his late May injury. He’s expected to begin the year on the reserve/PUP list, which would force him to miss the first six weeks of the season. The 2018 UDFA out of North Texas broke onto the scene with his three-touchdown, 120-yard performance against the Patriots in Week 7. He suffered an ankle injury at the end of that contest, which forced him to miss three games, but he finished the year strong with 88/437/3 rushing and 7/58/2 receiving in Weeks 12-17. Wilson will likely return to the #3 RB role once he’s healthy enough to return to the team but that is far from guaranteed. Third-round pick Trey Sermon is the favorite to become the team’s lead runner and Raheem Mostert will likely serve as the 1B behind Sermon as a dynamic change-of-pace option. The 49ers signed Wayne Gallman to a one-year deal in free agency and they used another draft pick on Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round. Wilson certainly impressed at the end of last season but he’ll need to be back to full health to grab a chunk of touches and snaps in this backfield. He can be drafted and stashed in an IR spot in deep leagues only.

Brandon Aiyuk (Proj: WR22 | ADP: 62 | Pos ADP: WR27)

The most legitimate deep threat in the San Francisco offense, 2020 first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk certainly didn’t disappoint in his rookie season. He was the WR18 in FPG (15.4) while impressively offering 7 games of more than 17.5 points and 4 games with 10+ targets. With Kendrick Bourne leaving behind 72 total targets and 33 vacated targets from 10+ yards (2nd-most on team), Aiyuk is set up to potentially be the No. 1 WR, especially from deep. The 49ers passing attack is a low-aDOT (average depth of target) scheme, but a borderline monopoly of their deep targets gives Aiyuk arguably the highest game-to-game fantasy ceiling of any 49er, while the departure of Bourne lifts his overall target floor to that of a safe WR3. It’s important to remember, however, that five out of seven of Aiyuk’s best games came without George Kittle, and four out of seven came without Deebo Samuel. Trey Lance entering the fold at QB could tilt the scales further in the “run-heavy” direction Kyle Shanahan has leaned into, limiting the potential of a large target increase for Aiyuk. Those are valid concerns, but Aiyuk’s locked into a full-time role in an explosive offense, and with nobody on the roster threatening his playing time, he offers the real potential of a low-end WR1 season at a WR3 price tag.

Deebo Samuel (Proj: WR25 | ADP: 87 | Pos ADP: WR37)

Deebo Samuel has unfortunately been massively hampered by injuries in his first two seasons, appearing on the injury report in 16 of 34 regular-season weeks and missing 10 total games. But what he’s done with the ball in his hands, when healthy, has been nothing short of electric. Over the last two seasons, Samuel leads all WRs with more than 50 receptions in yards after the catch (9.83) and avoided tackles (0.31) per reception. If you extend that two-year sample to include TEs and RBs, Deebo becomes the only WR to rank top-10 in avoided tackles per reception (8th overall), and one of only two WRs to rank in the top-25 of YAC per reception (2nd overall). He’s essentially a RB playing WR, and that’s how SF treats him. In Samuel’s two seasons, he ranks tied for second among WRs in screens and carries per game (2.7). That essentially gives him the highest touch-floor of any WR in the league. Granted, Deebo also has one of the shortest route trees in the NFL, seeing just six 20+ yard targets in his 22 career games. From a fantasy perspective, Samuel’s role has led to a compelling floor (10 games of 12.0+ fantasy points) but a more modest ceiling with only two games of 22.0+ fantasy points. A strong argument could be made that unlike teammate Brandon Aiyuk, Samuel’s fantasy production is unlikely to take a hit when Trey Lance takes over, as the carries, screens, and much shorter throws he usually sees all should be on the table immediately for the rookie QB. With that in mind, Samuel’s usage is arguably the safest among wide receivers on the board that are drafted in the WR4 range.

George Kittle (Proj: TE3 | ADP: 30 | Pos ADP: TE3)

Arguably the best all-around tight end in the NFL, George Kittle has had no shortage of success (fantasy or otherwise) since entering the league in 2017. Over the past three seasons, Kittle has ranked third, tied for first, and third in FPG among tight ends, while also flashing an outstanding ceiling with games of 40.1, 34.0, 29.9, and 26.4 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, only 19 TEs have had a single game of 25.0+ fantasy points over the last three seasons, and Kittle has four, third only to Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. Impressively, Kittle’s touches have been some of the most versatile among tight ends, as he’s led the position in screens and carries per game (1.2). That is 50% more than the next closest TE, Evan Engram. Those touches showcase just how comfortable the 49ers are getting Kittle the ball in space, and he’s done nothing but perform well in that arena, ranking no worse than 2nd among TEs with 50+ targets in YAC per reception for each of the past three seasons. While 2020 was Kittle’s worst overall fantasy season in recent memory, he dealt with a litany of injuries (foot fracture, MCL sprain) and still managed 15.6 FPG in the games he suited up. For the upcoming season, there’s little reason to think Kittle will deviate much from the 15.9 FPG he’s averaged over the past three seasons. He can be considered the last available ‘elite’ fantasy TE option at his current ADP in the mid-third round.

Final Points

I’ve struggled with the 49ers and their QB situation because I do think it would be ideal for them if Jimmy Garoppolo, feeling the pressure from Trey Lance, plays his best football. According to GM John Lynch, talking during the Hall of Fame Game broadcast, Jimmy’s doing just that. He can run this offense very well, and it may be ideal for Lance to sit a season like Patrick Mahomes did. On the other hand, I’m all about upside, and Lance’s upside with Kyle Shanahan and their weapons is so damn high. And while Lance is still lacking experience against top competition, Shanahan can manufacture plays and production for Lance, like he did for RG3 in 2012. In deeper or 2-QB leagues, I’m more than fine with drafting both, because the “49er starter” will likely be, at worst, a top-20 fantasy QB. Otherwise, Lance is pricey for a guy who may not play for a while (145, QB19), but I’m not against it if I decide to wait longer than most on my QB1.

The heat is on Jimmy Garoppolo, and he’s responding to the challenge and kicking his level of play up a notch, per GM John Lynch. At his best, he can run this offense like a well-oiled machine, but for fantasy, he’s just okay because he doesn’t run. It seems like the 49ers are hoping Jimmy G staves off the rookie, knowing if Jimmy gets hurt again, they’re covered. If Garoppolo does get hurt, then it’s over for him in SF. As mentioned above, in deep and 2-QB leagues, drafting both QBs should give you a nice ROI, as the “49er QB” projects as a top-12 guy, even with some upside if it’s Lance. If I didn’t have Lance, I’m not interested in a one-QB league, but Jimmy could easily be a nice 2-QB league asset at a low price with a 240 ADP in one QB leagues, but it’s hardly a lock.

HC Kyle Shanahan is the type who usually rotates his backs, but he will lean on one guy if that guy is producing, and Trey Sermon has the goods to deliver right out of the gate. Competition is always prevalent in this backfield, and Raheem Mostert will clearly have a large role if healthy, which he has not been for much of the offseason. Otherwise, Sermon should easily ascend to the top or near the top of the depth chart, and if Mostert misses time again, Sermon could easily flirt with RB1 upside. He's priced well, and picking him around 70-75 overall (RB29) isn’t going to crush you if he fails to deliver, and the potential is there for him to go down as the value pick of the year. If you take him as your RB3, you might want to find another back like Jamaal Williams who you can use in a pinch if Sermon is slow off the mark like most 2020 rookie RBs.

I’m down with Raheem Mostert being a sneaky fantasy option this year — as long as he’s healthy. Of course, that’s been a problem. But he projects as a nice complement to Trey Sermon, and Mostert could easily be the primary receiving back, at least early in the season. There’s not a lot of upside at his price point, though (76 ADP, RB30), so I’d feel better grabbing him a round or two later if he slips.

He was really good last year, but you’d have to be in a deep league for Jeff Wilson to be worth rostering, since he’s expected to begin the year on the reserve/PUP list, wiping out the first six weeks of the season. He’ll be a player to remember once the season starts if Trey Sermon and/or Raheem Mostert get hurt, and both guys do have injury histories. The team may have alternatives in Wayne Gallman and Elijah Mitchell, so Wilson’s an unwise selection in most redraft leagues.

If you have the gift of sight and saw him ball out last year, then you should have no qualms with Brandon Aiyuk’s ADP of 62 and WR22, which makes him a low-end WR2. But considering that he did most of his damage with friggin’ Nick Mullens at QB last year and now has TWO good QBs, Aiyuk looks like a great WR2 and a really nice value. He will compete for targets with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, of course, but there’s not much else here at receiver and this offense should easily support high-end production. He’s their best deep threat, and a great WR target.

While his injury history cannot be ignored, it’s definitely baked into his ADP, since he was going off the board up to 35 picks earlier at times in 2020, so I like Deebo quite a bit. Their QB situation is fantastic, and with improved health across the board, the 49ers are primed to make another run. Deebo will play second-fiddle to George Kittle, but he’ll be close to Brandon Aiyuk in terms of targets/opportunities. He’s not as dynamic as Aiyuk, but Aiyuk isn’t likely to score 2-3 rushing TDs, and Deebo probably is, and Deebo, due to his work close to the line of scrimmage, may be a safer bet than Aiyuk to produce if it’s the veteran Jimmy G and not the strong-armed Trey Lance.

For those who got burned by George Kittle last year, like me, it may be tough to go right back to that well with his ADP holding steady from last summer at around 30 overall. That’s a third round pick, which isn’t awful, and he will present an opportunity to post dominant numbers at TE to give his owners a decided advantage. Probably the best news for each of their top-3 receivers, other than the big QB upgrade with Trey Lance, is the fact that the 49ers are still quite thin at receiver, so Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk should dominate the touches. If I’m not loving the WR options at the top of Round 3 and already have two RBs, I’d seriously consider Kittle, and that’s saying something because he literally destroyed my season in my #1 league last year.