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With less than one month left until the 2023-24 NFL season kicks off, OutKick is unveiling its team-by-team preview series. We are going division-by-division, covering all 32 NFL teams. The series continues with the AFC and NFC West, now taking a look at final team in the NFC West, the defending division champion San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco 49ers 2022-23 Record: 13-4
San Francisco 49ers 2023-24 Win Total Over/Under: 10.5
The San Francisco 49ers did not have the best offseason. They let quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo walk, electing to lean on the trio of Brock Purdy, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold. There are big-time question marks for the most important position on the field for the 49ers. And, they let offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey leave, too. He played 1,038 offensive snaps last season, second only to center Jake Brendel.
But that’s overshadowing what they lost on defense. They had the best defense in the NFL last season and when that happens, guys need to be paid. And the team just couldn’t pay everyone.
The San Francisco 49ers lost several key pieces including edge rushers Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam, cornerback Emmanuel Mosely, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and safety Jimmie Ward.
Each of those players saw over 300 snaps on defense last season and account for a total of over 2,200 snaps lost. They did retain safety Tashaun Gipson and managed to snag prized Eagles free agent defensive lineman Javon Hargrave.
The NFL Draft didn’t provide many reinforcements, either, considering the 49ers did not pick in either of the first two rounds. They owned three third-round picks, but inexplicably used one of them on Michigan kicker Jake Moody. The team also selected Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown, and Alabama tight end Cameron Latu in round three.
The San Francisco 49ers are a difficult team to project this season. Can Brock Purdy — a 2022 seventh-round pick — really quarterback a team with Super Bowl aspirations to their ultimate goal? If not, can Trey Lance finally realize his potential? If not, Sam Darnold certainly isn’t getting it done.
But having Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk certainly makes up for a lot of deficiencies at quarterback. Their offensive line has questions, too, especially after losing McGlinchey. Franchise left tackle Trent Williams is a stalwart, but the rest of the unit is questionable.
Then, there’s all the lost talent on defense. But, they still have studs on that side of the ball. Hargrave is a massive upgrade in the middle and they still have reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa — assuming the sides eventually agree to a contract. Plus, their linebacking corps headlined by Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner is one of the best in the league.
They lost Jimmie Ward, but still have cornerback Charvarius Ward and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga. Sure, depth might be an issue, so health is going to play a major role.
With all the talent that the 49ers still possess, they’re the best team in the NFC West. But the Seahawks got better and the Rams should be improved as well.
That being said, it’s hard to envision a team with this talent — coached by Kyle Shanahan — winning fewer than 11 games; unless injuries hit really hard or the quarterbacks all completely flop. I don’t see that happening and still favor them to win the division and hit their over.
San Francisco 49ers Predicted Win Total: OVER 10.5
LISTEN: Dan Zaksheske and Geoff Clark Break Down The AFC and NFC West On The Latest Episode of “OutKick Bets”
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