The San Francisco 49ers were one of the most surprising teams in 2019. They started the season 8-0 and finished the season 13-3. This was after going 4-12 in 2018. Part of this was due to having a fully healthy Jimmy Garoppolo. They had the 1 seed in the playoffs and made it to the Super Bowl, where they blew a 20-10 third-quarter lead and lost 31-10. Part of the reason the 49ers got so far was their outstanding defense. They finished with the 2nd ranked total defense, 1st ranked pass defense, 17th ranked rush defense, and the 8th ranked scoring defense. That 17th ranked rush defense seemed like it was going to get even worse when they traded defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick. With that pick, they selected Javon Kinlaw, a defensive lineman from South Carolina who will replace DeForest Buckner. Going into 2020, the 49ers should have a similar style of defense where they lock down the pass but leave some holes open in the running game. They will still run their committee style approach to their offense, where they ride the hot hand at running back and receiver.
Projected Depth Chart:
Quarterback: 1. Jimmy Garoppolo 2. Nick Mullens
Running back: 1. Raheem Mostert 2. Tevin Coleman
Wide receiver: 1. Deebo Samuel 2. Brandon Aiyuk 3. Kendrick Bourne 4. Jalen Hurd
Slot receiver: 1. Trent Taylor 2. Dante Pettis
Tight end: 1. George Kittle 2. Ross Dwelley
Quarterbacks - One of the reasons the 49ers improved so much in 2019 was due to their injuries at quarterback in 2018. Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only played in 3 games. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard only played in 6 games. 3rd string quarterback Nick Mullens played in 8 games. The three quarterbacks combined to form a stat line of 4247 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions with a 62.2 completion percentage.
The quarterback play was much more consistent in 2019 with Jimmy Garoppolo playing all 16 games. Garoppolo put up 3978 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, and 13 interceptions with a 69.1 completion percentage. That was good for 247.32 fantasy points and the QB14. He was very boom or bust last year as he had 7 games under 12 points and 4 games over 22 points.
You can get Jimmy Garoppolo for free in most fantasy drafts. He is going as the QB20 and would be a great bench quarterback in almost every league because of his ability to go off randomly. I am not looking to draft Garoppolo as a starting quarterback this year, but I think he would make a great backup or streaming option for your team. Jimmy G is a deep sleeper this year because of his breakout ability on a weekly basis.
Running backs - The 49ers rode the hot hand at running back this year with 3 backs getting the majority of the work. Matt Breida received the fewest volume of the three with 123 carries for 623 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground with 19 receptions for 120 yards and 1 touchdown through the air in 13 games. This was good for 103.3 fantasy points and the RB46. Tevin Coleman received the most volume but scored the second-most fantasy points. He had 137 carries for 544 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground with 21 receptions for 180 yards and 1 touchdown through the air in 13 games. This was good for 135.4 fantasy points and the RB39.
Raheem Mostert was the best of the three backs for fantasy even though he didn't receive the most volume. In 16 games, he had 137 carries for 772 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground with 14 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. This was good for 165.2 fantasy points and the RB26. Mostert really reached a new level during the last 5 games of the season where he had double-digit rush attempts in every game and averaged just over 18 fantasy points per game.
The 49ers backfield should be a headache in 2020. Even though Matt Breida is gone, Jerick McKinnon is back from injury and should get a lot of receptions this year. He is going at the end of drafts and I like him as a deep sleeper this year, especially if Mostert gets traded. Raheem Mostert requested a trade over the offseason and I don't think his request will happen because he has no leverage. Mostert is going in the 7th round and I think he is a bust candidate this year because of the 49ers committee approach and the fact that he had 5.6 yards per carry last year. Tevin Coleman is going in the 8th round and I think that is good value for a player who should be on your bench.
Wide receivers - Emmanuel Sanders was traded to the 49ers after Week 7 last year. Over the 10 weeks, he was on the 49ers, Sanders had 36 receptions for 502 yards and 3 touchdowns. That was good for 109.6 fantasy points. If he played the whole season averaging 10.96 fantasy points, he would've been the WR36. Sanders was extremely boom or bust on the 49ers as he had 7 games with under 10 points and 2 games with over 24.
Deebo Samuel played 15 games for the 49ers in 2019. In those 15 games, he had 57 receptions on 81 targets for 802 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. On the ground, he had 159 yards and 3 touchdowns on 14 attempts. Samuel finished as the WR31 with 189.1 fantasy points. But, from Weeks 10-17, Samuel averaged 16.1 fantasy points per game and if he did that for a whole season, he would've finished as the WR7 with 257.6 fantasy points.
Emmanuel Sanders left the 49ers for the New Orleans Saints in free agency and the 49ers drafted Brandon Aiyuk to replace him. Brandon Aiyuk is going at the end of drafts and I am looking to target him in deeper leagues and a deep sleeper because of the void Sanders left. As I am writing this, Deebo Samuel is going in the 7th round. That is amazing value for someone who played like a WR1 over the back half of the year. If you can draft 2-3 receivers to hold down the fort while Samuel gets healthy, you could have drafted a huge sleeper.
Tight ends - George Kittle has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL over the last 2 years. In 2018, he had 88 receptions on 136 targets for 1377 yards and 5 touchdowns. This was good for 258.7 fantasy points and the TE3. Kittle led all tight ends in receiving yards due to his ability to take short dump-off passes and turn them into big gains.
In 2019, Kittle regressed a bit with 85 receptions on 107 targets for 1053 yards and 5 touchdowns. This was good for 222.5 fantasy points and the TE2. Kittle played in 14 games and had 7 or more targets in 10 of those. In those 10 games, Kittle averaged almost 18 fantasy points per game. This is compared to almost 11 points per game when he gets below 7 targets.
George Kittle is going in the 2nd-3rd round in 2018, and I think he is a bit overpriced. I am never a fan of taking tight ends before round 4 because you can get much better value in the first 3 rounds. The only tight end I would even consider taking in the first three rounds would be Travis Kelce because he has the potential to score over 300 points, but I would still not take him in the first 2 rounds. Kittle also has the potential to score over 300, but Kelce is in a better offense with a better quarterback so I have him ranked slightly higher.
Deep sleepers: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk
Good value: Tevin Coleman
Bust: Raheem Mostert
Sleeper: Deebo Samuel
Overpriced: George Kittle
I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 28: San Francisco 49ers. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 29: Seattle Seahawks. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the 49ers' offense for fantasy 2020.