The National Football Leagues regular season is finally upon us and it feels great. At long last we have our favorite past time back – talent, speed, adrenaline, physicality, brotherhood, and the highs and lows of what promises to be a exhilarating and tumultuous season.
The AFC still has its veteran quarterback dominance with Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and company, whist a host of good young quarterbacks fight for to overthrow the veteran leaders. The return to health of Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota as well as Deshaun Watson should ensure the AFC is exciting.
In the NFC it’s a different ball game. Nearly every team has a positive outlook and are more than capable of defeating any team on any given Sunday. There are an abundance of talented rosters and young quarterbacks to go along with elite veterans Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. The emergence of Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mitch Trubisky and a few others makes the NFC more wide open than I’ve ever seen it. Viewers be prepared for a topsy turvy battle for the playoffs spots in the NFC.
Our beloved 49ers have a tough schedule to navigate which gets better towards the end of the season with a number of home games which should work in our favor. Each members of the Nothing But Niners team has given a prediction of their anticipated win-loss record along with their reasoning below.
Stewart Mathurin (@SoLockedIn) – 10-6: The loss of Jerick McKinnon is a huge blow for the 49ers and it has already stretched the depth at running back. Nevertheless I’m confident in Kyle Shanahan getting the most out of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida to carry our run game. Our defense is young but talented and we will need our defensive line to shoulder the burden for this unit; we’ll only go as far as they take us. On offense I think Jimmy Garoppolo will light it up, there will be a few bumps but I believe he will take us to our first playoffs appearance in years if we can remain relatively healthy from this point forward.
Mike Andrews ( @49ersMike_NF ) – 11-5: I think the 49ers have a medium strength’d schedule and that bodes well for them. Combine that with another year in the system and 5 of 8 games being at home down the stretch, the team should be making strides towards their playoff potential.
Nick O’Hara ( @49ersFaithful365 )- 8-8: I think we have made some moves that make us an all round better team, obviously the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo was huge and has the fan base hyped, including me. However, I still have a few worries about the red zone efficiency and the team’s ability to execute. We are still a young team and tend to beat ourselves with penalties, dropped passes and confusion amongst the players. I’m hoping this isn’t the case in the regular season but from what I’ve seen so far in preseason, I think it’s still to be expected. I think we will score points but I think the defensive growth is going to be big for us this season as well. If we can stay healthy, and grow as a team and continue to build I believe we will have a better season then last year, and with the growth this year we will be ready to roll next year. This team will go as far as the Kyle Shanahan offense and the execution of the offense will take us. If it’s better than 8-8 or 9-7 I’ll be happy and that means we are still headed in the right direction. I hope my prediction is wrong, and we are competing for a wild card or play off run, but if I’m being a realist, it’s just not our time yet.
Stefan Krueger ( @jav95_ ) – 9-7: 18 months ago this was the league’s worst roster. Even today, our quarterback is only in his first full year on an offense that is still developing and not yet top of the crop anywhere. Our defense lacks edge pressure and we are young in the secondary. The 49ers’ window to contend opens next year. We continue to make positive strides towards that this year in a loaded NFC.
Matt Llewellyn ( @Atax1s ) – 8-8: Despite being the media darkhorse to make a real playoff run, this roster is still in flux as the organization tries to wash the taste of the Chip Kelly/Jim Tomsula eras out of its mouth. While I’m inclined to believe the Jimmy Garoppolo hype is for real, the 49ers still don’t have dynamic playmakers for him to truly thrive. Goodwin and Garcon are both capable WRs but no one will mistake them for upper echelon talents. Jerick McKinnon’s injury hurts and the offensive line is still coming together as a unit so I wouldn’t expect the 49ers to be particularly effective at running the ball, which puts even more pressure on Garoppolo to succeed and once again carry the team. The interior defensive line is loaded with first round talent but a lack of edge rushers puts the unproven secondary at risk of getting exposed early and often. Finally, the schedule, while light on travel, is still full of good teams and a bad break or two could spell disaster for the 49ers. When all is said and done, this is a team heading in the right direction but still at least a year away from being true contenders. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have done a great job so far and the team will improve but likely fall short of the playoffs.
Anthony Perry ( @AnthonyPerry925 ) – 9-7: Although the schedule might include a number of beatable teams, our 49ers are going to have to avoid beating themselves first. With an offense that’s still on the come-and-up and a defense that’s still pretty young, nothing about this team is set in stone. I believe we’re going to see a team that’ll be inconsistent in both departments until rapport is established amongst the personnel and the coaching itself. Lots of people remain confident in this team, as the end of last season brought something incredible that we haven’t seen in awhile, but don’t be fooled by the media love – this team will remain a darkhorse throughout the season. An unestablished redzone presence to go along with what might be a below-to average at best defense will be the downfall of this team. The upside remains tremendous if everything can click. I’m buying into the potential, but the ability needs to translate if this teams wants a playoff spot.
Steve Mullan ( @smullanjr ) – 9-7: Although the offense improved once Garoppolo entered the starting lineup last season, there are still question marks on defense. They are still lacking pass rush, we don’t know what we have in Richard Sherman and depth in the back end is an issue. The beginning of the 49ers’ schedule will be tough, so we will see right away how Shanahan game plans for tougher defenses after torching Jacksonville last season. Dont forget, this team is still young and still learning to play together so we will still see some growing pains.
Eric Crocker ( @Eric_Crocker ) – 10-6: The 49ers have the players to win 10 games but have shown the discipline, or lack thereof, of a 7 win team. If Kyle Shanahan can get his team to stop shooting themselves in the foot, Jimmy Garoppolo will lead this 49er team to their first playoff birth since 2013.
Aliyaz Popat ( @Aliyaz01 ) – 8-8: The 49ers’ schedule to start the year is daunting. With a slew of early road games to start the year the 49ers may find themselves playing catch up early and often in games and in the standings as well. With concerns at two primary positions the 49ers may struggle to string wins together. But as the schedule lightens up at the end of year look for a similar finish to the season as last year.
Mike Caufield ( @Ny2ThaBay ) – 9-7: With the emergence of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the hype in the Bay Area is at an all time high after finishing strong last season. Some big question marks that remain are the pass rush, running game and red zone efficiency which could determine the team’s overall success. The 49ers’ relatively young offense will be looking to make a jump in the second year in Coach Shanahan’s system and the defense will be seeking to improve on last season’s talented but inconsistent unit. The 49ers have a tough schedule but if things go their way, they could be fighting for a playoff berth.
Cory Rogers ( @Cofy21 ) – 9-7: My biggest question mark with this team is pass rush. Sure we have a couple guys that could probably get it done but to be a dominant defense you need that one guy that can take over a game. Especially in key moments late in games. Honestly I feel our offense will be fine – losing McKinnon is going to be a bigger blow in the passing game more than the running game. However Kyle Shanahan had no issues last season using fullback Kyle Juszczyk to cause mismatches versus linebackers, I believe he will have a good year again. If Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal like everyone in the NFL seems to be saying our offense will be in the top 10.
Zach Hernan ( @zachhernan ) – 10-6: A franchise quarterback is able to mask a lot of weaknesses on teams. The 49ers have their quarterback of the future under center and the deepest wide receiver corps in years, so in my opinion the offense are capable of holding up their end of the bargain in shootouts. Even if the defense isn’t quite up to par in stopping opponents from scoring regularly, Jimmy Garoppolo has proven to be able to continuously march the offense down the field. However, it’s of vital importance the 49ers finish drives with 7 points and not 3. The emergence of several rookies and sophomores will play a pivotal role in the 49ers clinching a wildcard spot. The team looks to have found gold off the street in RB Alfred Morris, even shinier now that their presumed starter, Jerick McKinnon, will miss his first season with the 49ers with a torn ACL. By not addressing their pass rush successfully in either free agency or in the draft, the 49ers show they are banking on the development of players like Solomon Thomas and Cassius Marsh. Let’s hope that doesn’t come back to bite them.
Scott Geelan ( @Scott_Geelan ) – 10-6: The 49ers will be an improved side, who could exceed expectations by going on a run in the middle of their season. With four of their toughest road games in the first six weeks of the season, there is a decent chance the Niners can generate some serious momentum by ending the first 6 games at .500 before pushing on from there – with a series of eminently winnable games following an enormous home game with the Rams on October 22nd. With a defense that looks primed to make a leap, fuelled by a developing interior pass rush and the potential of Reuben Foster, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert, the 49ers’ offense does not need to make the customary Kyle Shanahan year two leap. Momentum is everything in this league, and if both sides of the ball can consistently generate performances, 10-6 should be within the grasp of this side.
Alex Tran ( @NinerAlex ) – 9-7: By no means do I believe the 49ers steamroll through a first full season with Jimmy Garoppolo. If the team can stay healthy they already look like a better team on paper all around. One of the first things the great Bill Walsh instilled when he came to the 49ers was team culture. It may sound like a bunch of bologna, but I am firm believer that a championship grows first from a culture and this off season I have witnessed this team grow into a family. This season is important because they will begin to form an identity. It’s time to take this team collaboratively to the second level and put the league on notice, ending with a wildcard berth.
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