Here is The Game Day’s San Francisco 49ers 2021 NFL Preview: 2020 Recap, Team 2021 Outlook, 2021 Betting Tips, and 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook. Be sure to check out more of our preseason NFL coverage here.
49ers 2021 NFL Preview: San Francisco 2020 Recap, 2021 Team Outlook For Fantasy Football & Betting
San Francisco 49ers 2020 Recap
- Final record: 6-10 (1-7 Home / 5-3 Away)
- Division regular-season finish: 4th in NFC West
- Result: Did not qualify for the postseason
Coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the 2020 San Francisco 49ers fell to last place in their division as their roster was ravaged by injuries. Losing key players such as Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Richard Sherman, and Nick Bosa for extended periods of time took its toll in the second half, contributing to San Francisco’s 2-7 finish.
After ranking second in points per game in 2019, the 49ers’ offense fell to 21st as Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard were pressed into emergency quarterback duty. The defense was hampered by injuries as well, slipping from eighth to 17th in fewest points allowed per game. The 49ers didn’t do themselves any favors by posting the NFL’s second-worst turnover differential (-11), either.
In short, pretty much everything that could go wrong for San Francisco did go wrong.
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San Francisco 49ers 2021 Offseason Changes
49ers 2021 Offseason Departures
- Kerry Hyder Jr., DE, Seahawks
- Kendrick Bourne, WR, Patriots
- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Seahawks
- Solomon Thomas, DE, Raiders
- Tevin Coleman, RB, Jets
- C.J. Beathard, QB, Jaguars
- Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs
- Trent Taylor, WR, Bengals
- Weston Richburg, C, Retired
- Joe Walker, LB, Washington
- Richard Sherman, CB, Unsigned
- Ronald Blair, DL, Jets
- Robert Saleh, DC, Jets
49ers 2021 Free-Agency/Offseason Additions
- Alex Mack, C
- Samson Ebukam, DE
- Zach Kerr, DT
- Tavon Wilson, S
- Maurice Hurst Jr., DL
- Arden Key, DE
- Wayne Gallman, RB
- Trent Sherfield, WR
- Mohamed Sanu, WR
- Nate Sudfeld, QB
- Nate Gerry, LB
- Bennie Fowler, WR
49ers 2021 NFL Draft Picks
- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (Round 1, Pick 3 Overall)
- Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame (Round 2, Pick 48 Overall)
- Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State (Round 3, Pick 88 Overall)
- Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan (Round 3, Pick 102 Overall)
- Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan (Round 5, Pick 155 Overall)
- Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon (Round 5, Pick 172 Overall)
- Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC (Round 5, Pick 180 Overall)
- Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana (Round 6, Pick 194 Overall)
San Francisco 49ers 2021 Outlook
Two of the most significant losses for the 49ers were defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, both of whom took new roles with the New York Jets. Their defense also took a hit, especially in the secondary with the departures of Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman. With significant losses along the defensive front seven as well, San Francisco’s defense may take another step back this year.
Offensively, the 49ers have some question marks as well, especially at quarterback. After drafting Trey Lance third overall, San Francisco appears ready to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers also drafted two running backs and two offensive linemen, so their offense will have its share of fresh faces this year.
If the 49ers can remain healthy on both sides of the ball, they could be in line for a strong rebound season. Even with their considerable offseason departures, there’s still enough talent here for them to be a postseason contender. The NFC West is arguably the NFL’s toughest division, however, so they’ll have their work cut out for them.
San Francisco 49ers 2021 Fantasy Football Preview
Assuming Jimmy Garoppolo is still with the team, he’ll likely be San Francisco’s starter to open the season. He’ll be playing for his job with Trey Lance lurking in the background. Garoppolo needs to prove that his strong 2019 campaign is repeatable. Although he’s not guaranteed the starting role for the whole season, his fantasy value is limited to two-QB formats. Lance, on the other hand, is worth stashing in case he gets a shot.
As for their weapons, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk both profile as WR2/WR3s. Samuel has had trouble staying healthy, but when he’s on the field his talent is undeniable. Their quarterback situation isn’t ideal and they cap each other’s fantasy ceiling, but both are worth rostering, Aiyuk may come back to earth a bit following his strong rookie season, however, as he heavily benefited from the absences of Samuel and George Kittle.
Despite missing half of the season last year with injuries, Kittle remains an elite tight end option in fantasy. Given how shallow the position is, he’s absolutely worth using a high draft pick on, as he’s one of the few reliable studs at the position besides Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Regardless of how San Francisco’s quarterback situation shakes out, Kittle should continue to soak up targets as a safety blanket for the offense.
I’m not normally big on rookie running backs, but I can’t pass up on Trey Sermon. Not only do I love Kyle Shanahan‘s system, but Sermon also is easily the most talented back on the roster and should be leading the backfield before long. He looks like a great value pick in fantasy drafts and could be a difference-maker, especially with Jeff Wilson (knee) expected to be unavailable for the start of the regular season. Free-agent acquisition Wayne Gallman may get some looks as well, especially given how injury-prone Raheem Mostert has been throughout his career.
The 49ers backfield will once again be a fantasy nightmare outside of BestBall formats. Still, if you can get one of their backs at a decent price without overpaying, there will be productive weeks in regular formats. The issue, of course, is knowing when to insert them into your lineup if all are healthy.
San Francisco 49ers 2021 NFL Futures Bet Tips
49ers To Miss Playoffs (+150)
This is a tough one, but my gut says the 49ers miss the playoffs again this year. There are too many question marks, especially at quarterback, and the team’s recent injury history is a concern as well. The franchise appears to be rebuilding, and their division offers little margin for error.
The 49ers have suffered three losing seasons in Shanahan’s four years as the team’s head coach. Therefore, he has yet to build them into consistent contenders. If the 49ers decide to try Lance out at quarterback, it could be another long season for them.
Trey Lance To Win AP Offensive Rookie Of The Year (+800)
Lance is tied with Najee Harris for the third-best odds to win this award. As mentioned, he’s coming into a great system with Shanahan and will have some pretty good weapons to work with. Lance isn’t guaranteed to start, which makes this bet somewhat risky, but if he does get the chance he’ll be in a great position to grow and put up some impressive numbers.
49ers To Win NFC West (+200)
The 49ers have the second-best odds to win the NFC West behind the Rams (+175), but I’m not sold on Los Angeles. The Rams lost many pieces on defense during the offseason as well as their defensive coordinator, and Matthew Stafford may not be the savior that everyone’s making him out to be. This division is wide open this year, and if the 49ers stay healthy they’re certainly capable of winning it. I’d rather take the Arizona Cardinals at +600 given the value there, but San Francisco is an intriguing pick as well.
George Kittle Over 5.5 Receiving Touchdowns (-115)
I was extremely surprised to learn that Kittle has never exceeded five touchdowns in a season, which explains why his line is set at 5.5. Six or more touchdowns should be achievable based on Kittle’s volume, but given his injury history and San Francisco’s tendency to run in the red zone this is not a lock wager. That said, I think Kittle will remain healthy and hit the over this year, especially with an extra game on the schedule.
Jimmy Garoppolo To Take 1st Regular-Season Snap For 49ers (-250)
While San Francisco spent plentiful draft capital to trade up and acquire Lance’s services in the 2021 NFL Draft, they also elected to retain Garoppolo instead of trading him. This suggests the 49ers will ride Garoppolo until he falters, gets hurt, or takes them to the postseason. Based on his erratic track record, Garoppolo’s range of outcomes is diverse.
As for Lance, he’s still raw and did not play a lot of games in college. While he could be NFL-ready, San Francisco will likely take a cautious approach with him. Garoppolo is only two years removed from leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl, after all, so I expect him to be their Week 1 starter in 2021.