As part of our 2023 NFL Preseason Preview Series, we look at the current state of each team in an attempt to identify reasons for optimism and causes for concern and, most importantly, what can be exploited in the current betting marketplace.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
San Francisco went through their starter, Trey Lance, and his backup, Jimmy Garappolo, before finding a diamond in the rough in Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. Who knows how far the 49ers would have gone if Purdy didn’t hurt his elbow in the playoffs? Purdy had elbow surgery this offseason, but he looks to be trending positively and reports suggest he could be ready Week 1. San Francisco also traded for Christian McCaffrey, who led all RBs in explosive plays with 39. Besides Mike McGlinchey departing, there isn’t much change to the offense this season. The 49ers defense, which finished top-3 in nearly every statistical category, signed stud DT Javon Hargrave. This is one of the best rosters in the league and features a coach that seems to get the most out of his team regardless of the QB (assuming that QB is not RB Christian McCaffrey in the playoffs).
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: CAUSE FOR CONCERN
After having the easiest schedule of opponents last season, they will now play a schedule closer to league average. Brock Purdy was a revelation, but he is coming off major elbow surgery to his throwing arm and is a serious question mark coming into the year. The 49ers finished 2nd-lowest in EPA lost due to turnovers on defense and 2nd-highest in EPA gained. They would be hard-pressed to replicate those numbers next season. McGlinchey may be a singular loss, but it is surely impactful. On defense, they lost CB Emmanuel Mosely and S Jimmie Ward to free agency. Respected Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks, who takes over for departing Demeco Ryans, will have his work cut out for him as he tries to replicate last year’s success. Another enormous hurdle for SF will be their league-worst -20 day rest edge.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: BETTING OPPORTUNITIES
The 49ers win total opened at 11.5 and has seemingly been in a free fall. Sitting at 10.5 with juice to the over, it’s time to start buying back. There are understandable question marks regarding Purdy, but Shannahan seems to have success regardless of the QB. Sam Darnold hasn’t had the expected success after being a high draft pick, but he has the skill set to be a game manager and Trey Lance was the day 1 starter last year before getting hurt. The receivers are dynamic and the running backs and defense are the best in the league. They play in one of the easiest divisions in the league where 2 teams aren’t expected to combine for as many wins as the 49ers. Given that they are favored in all but one game, I’m bullish on the 49ers.
Best Bet: SF Over 10.5 Wins (-140)
(Play to -145)