The 49ers finished one game short of immortality last season. Can Kyle Shanahan give Jimmy Garoppolo the tools to win the Super Bowl this season?
No one should blame the 49ers for coming up short against the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl. The challenge for San Francisco now becomes figuring out how to take things one step further in 2020.
The team didn’t suffer mass casualties in the offseason, but each side of the ball something important. Emmanuel Sanders was arguably the team’s top wide receiver when he was healthy last season. The franchise hopes first round draft pick Brandon Aiyuk can replace his production but that’s definitely a gamble.
Joe Staley’s retirement could have left San Francisco without a quality option at left tackle, but the trade for Trent Williams should solidify things on Garoppolo’s blind side. Williams may need a few weeks of action to kick off the rust of not playing for over a full season, but he’s got All-Pro ability.
Trading DeForest Buckner will have a larger impact on the defense. The move netted the 49ers valuable draft capital, but it will make their defensive line weaker in 2020. Again, a first round draft pick will be expected to fill his shoes. Javon Kinlaw has serious potential, but it’s unclear just how effective he’ll be right away.
The 49ers think they have the juice to get back to another Super Bowl this season. The outcome of the following give predictions will go a long way towards determining whether or not they’re correct.
5. George Kittle will catch 100 passes
Some might expect Kittle’s production to drop without the presence of Sanders on the outside. That underestimates just how difficult Kittle is to cover. He’s too big for cornerbacks to handle and too fast for linebackers and safeties. Pencil him in for at least 100 catches this season.