Key Additions: QB Josh Johnson, RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham
Key Losses: WR Josh Morgan
Schedule Depth Chart
Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers finally turned a leaf last year on their way to a 13 win season, and a botched punt return away from the Super Bowl. Second year head coach Jim Harbaugh took a talented team and gave them a sort of confidence and "swagger" that should carry over into this season. All that is great but the fantasy outlook for the 49ers is a little less exciting then the actual great season that the Niners as a football team could have. With a very crowded backfield including Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James it's going to be tough to put the thumb on who the back to own is. Even though Alex Smith had a turnaround campaign he still did not eclipse the 300-yard mark in any game last season. The wide receivers already had Michael Crabtree and took on two great additions with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. With the style of play that the Niners use, they can't promise any type of great production or numbers. All-pro tight-end Vernon Davis could have another great season as the outside is stretched with those new additions which could open up the middle and give Davis plenty of open field to work with.
(DON'T EXPECT MUCH HERE) QB Alex Smith: Some could consider Smith a bust, especially with the fact that he came out of the same draft class as Aaron Rodgers. Before last season these skeptics had all the right to believe that. After an ex QB came in as their new head coach, Smith really had a maturing season and only threw 5 interceptions. This season could be very tricky for Smith as there may be a new found confidence in him which could cause the playbook to have a few more passing plays. With the addition of veteran wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, Smith could either take the next step and put up some good yardage totals or take a step back and do too much, increasing his interceptions and possible inconsistent play.
Projections: 3,270 yds 20 TD 14 INT
(TOO MANY PEOPLE AT THE DANCE) RB Frank Gore: Early reports are coming out that Gore may only average 13-17 touches per game. The combination of the chalk-full backfield and the Niners trying to maintain his health for the playoffs are the reasons for this madness. The limited amount of touches could make Gore one of the bigger fantasy headaches this upcoming season. Oh and did I mention his injury problem? He hasn't played in every game A former 1st to 2nd rounder, Frank the tank is falling as far as round 5 in some early mock drafts. Last season Gore got off to a very slow start and was eventually able to turn it around, this year owners may be waiting on that turnaround and it might never come.
Projections: 255 att 1,100 yds 4 TD
(WHO'S NEXT ON THE FLOOR?) RBs Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James: Kendall Hunter made a bit of a splash last year, his rookie season, not only in the preseason but also throughout the year while spelling Frank Gore. As of now Hunter projects to be the direct back-up/change of pace back for Gore. But without him being the starter or the goal line back he really has no more than handcuff value. The goal line back role will most like fall on the shoulders of the big bruiser Brandon Jacobs who came over from the New York football Giants this offseason. Jacobs wasn't great in short yardage/goal-line carries last season but is looking for a fresh start in San Francisco after being upset with the Giants. Not much, if any, fantasy value here. Lastly we have LaMichael James, a burner out of the University of Oregon, James will serve as the fourth head of the four-headed monster and will have very limited touches this season.
Projections: Kendall Hunter: 115 att 475 yds 2 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 110 att 430 yds 9 TD
LaMichael James: 65 att 240 yds 1 TD
(IS THIS FINALLY THE YEAR HE SHOWS UP?) WR Michael Crabtree: Crabtree came out of Texas Tech with amazing hands and loads of potential. He has struggled to reach his heights on a consistent basis and can be quite the "diva" on and off the field. Coming into his rookie season Crabtree was in a hold-out much fueled by Deion Sanders, who was feeding the already big ego of Crabtree. His reception totals have increased each season from 48 in 11 games, 55 in 16 and 72 in his last season. If he could put it all together and leave some of the ego at home, Crabtree could be a stud. Is this the season he does? I think not.
Projections: 75 rec 890 yds 5 TD
(WILL HE PLAY THE SEASON OUT?) WR Randy Moss: From one diva to the next insert Randy Moss. Moss was all over the headlines last season with rumors of him going to this team or going to that team, before finally landing in San Francisco. Randy Moss is one of the most gifted wide receivers to hit the NFL and has had some amazing seasons. But his days may be numbered as his last couple stops have had alot of ups and downs, and more downs than ups. Moss is going to mentor the young and talented wide receivers that the Niners have and could be a very beneficial piece for the Niners and the growth of the passing game. Early reports suggest he is going to start along side Crabtree and will serve as their WR2. That doesn't mean he can be your WR2 on your fantasy team, but possibly a weekly filler.
Projections: 40 rec 460 yds 6 TD
(SNEAKY VALUE PICK?) WR Mario Manningham: Coming over from the super bowl champion New York Giants where Manningham felt mistreated and underused, he is going to try to make an impact on a new team. Manningham has a lot of speed and quickness off the line. He is a bit fragile and has injury concerns. Only four years pro out of Michigan, Manningham is still young and can learn from Randy Moss and the coaches in San Francisco. It's tough to gage his fantasy value with the Niners style of play and the crowded WR position including A.J. Jenkins. He is more of a wait and see type rather than someone to target in drafts.
Projections: 50 rec 620 yds 2 TD
(EXPECTING BIG THINGS!) TE Vernon Davis: Davis is a physically gifted athlete who is a top talent at his position. His only problem is the offense he is attached to. He has great speed for his size and is a mismatch for nearly any defender. With the wide-outs spreading the defense out it could leave plenty of room to play with over the middle for Davis, and even Alex Smith can hit a wide open tight-end. If the Niners open up the playbook a little bit and Alex Smith can progress in the right direction Davis could have a great campaign this upcoming season.
Projections: 75 rec 990 yds 10 TD
Sleeper/Handcuff: RB Brandon Jacobs: Brandon Jacobs may be to well known to be considered a sleeper, but with the possible goal-line work and possible injuries in front of him Jacobs could be a TD machine. The style of play that the Niners run, there should be plenty of carries to go around even with four backs.
Rookie to watch: WR A.J. Jenkins: Jenkins is a speedster (4.39 40 yard dash) wide-out from Illinois. Jenkins may play fourth fiddle behind Crabtree, Moss, and Manningham but the last two have questions. One could get hurt and the other could not want to play, Jenkins could find himself on the field more than expected.
Bust Alert: WR Randy Moss: "I play when I wanna play." --Randy Moss....Need I say more?
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