Nice to have you back for another edition of Team Previews; where we look a three fantasy relevant players from each team. We continue our journey through the NFC West as we tackle the San Francisco 49ers. When I first started writing today's piece, I wanted to write about George Kittle because he has a shot at being THE Tight End 1 for the season. But I felt it was more important to address Jimmy Garoppolo, the running back position and new rookie wide receiver, Deebo Samuel. So get in the car and buckle up, as we head north on The 5 to look at some of San Francisco's treats.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The only thing more frustrating than spelling Jimmy Garoppolo’s name correctly was how many key injuries the 49ers had in 2018. It was Big Trouble in Little China for the 49ers as they got stung by the injury bug time after time. Injuries have prevented Kyle Shanahan from unleashing what his Beautiful Mind has conjured up on the league, but 2019 will hopefully display what this offensive guru has up his sleeve. Provided everyone can stay healthy.
Jimmy G will have his best season, and show that he was worth every penny of his contract. In 6 games with the 49ers in 2017, Handsome Jimmy finished 9th in Average Completed Air Yards, and had the most Yards Per Attempt with 8.8. He has no problems throwing the ball down field, and Shanahan fully expects him to do so. Although the three games he played in 2018 left much to be desired, he’s had another full off-season of learning Shanahan’s complex offense (even though he hasn’t been on the field). Remember it took Matt Ryan two whole off-seasons to learn Shanahan’s offense in Atlanta before putting up his MVP season in 2016.
The issue I keep coming across with Jimmy The Kid, is that he is prone to turning the ball over. In the eight games he’s started for the 49ers, he had eight interceptions. I do expect that trend to continue as Optimus Dime has some very young receivers, and he isn’t afraid of launching the ball down the field, which is a good thing, but gunslingers tend to turn the ball over from time to time.
Unless you’re in a 2 Quarterback or Super Flex league, I wouldn’t be reaching for Jimmy GQ, though. I have Jimmy GOATroppolo finishing as QB18 right now, posting 381/569/4628/27 TDs/16 INTs and 40/72/0 rushing. His current ADP is right around where I have him at QB17 in the 11th round. Though not a must draft, if you’re a weekly Quarterback Streamer, Jimmy Garoppolo will have a handful of stream worthy weeks. As I mentioned on Monday with Kyler Murray, the Quarterback position is going to be very deep this year. Unless you get great value for one of the top guys, wait on drafting a QB.
Which running back should we all be targeting in San Francisco this year? Hint, it’s not Matt Breida. Also, as the highest paid “running back” on the team, Kyle Juszczyk doesn’t qualify.
The guy I’m hitching my wagon to is, Jerick McKinnon. Before I get into Jerick McKinnon, note that I 100% believe Tevin Coleman needs to be drafted and will be utilized in this offense.
On to McKinnon. Shanahan loves using two running backs when he has two good running backs. Last year, due to injuries, he went through 4 or 5 guys. Don’t expect that trend to continue sorry Matt Breida. Jerick McKinnon is a metrics Super Freak! The guy has all the athleticism and potential in the world, he just hasn’t been quite able to put it all together, yet. In his final two seasons in Minnesota, McKinnon averaged a very poor 3.6 Yards Per Carry (YPC) with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. In his first two seasons, with a better offensive line, he averaged 5 YPC. Huge difference. San Francisco has one of the best offensive lines in the game. Advantage McKinnon. McKinnon is also an above average pass catcher, and isn’t a liability in the pass game, as he’s a great pass blocker.
“BUT THEY SIGNED TEVIN COLEMAN AND TEVIN COLEMAN IS GETTING FIRST TEAM REPS DURING OTAS”. None of the above statement is false, but it is misleading. First, McKinnon has not been cleared and is still recovering from his torn ACL. Someone needs to run with the first team in his absence, hence Coleman getting first team reps. McKinnon should be back to full contact a little later this summer. Secondly, Shanahan signed Tevin Coleman to be “the Tevin Coleman” of the 49ers. Not only is McKinnon almost a carbon copy of Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons in terms of size, he will also have that role in this offense. Coleman will serve as a change of pace back, a very good change of pace back, but still a change of pace back. We saw what Coleman did with his opportunity as the RB1 last year in Atlanta, and it didn’t go well. Ito Smith was outplaying him at times. But Coleman is one of the best, if not the best, second running back on a team. As long as McKinnon can stay healthy, he will get the majority of the touches.
Currently, McKinnon is being drafted AFTER Coleman as RB37 in the eighth round. A far cry from his ADP last year before injury. I don’t expect that to last once draft season is upon us come August. Expected production from McKinnon should be 248/1080/9 rushing and 72/48/440/2 receiving. Good enough for my RB17. Currently great value. Target him in your drafts as I don’t expect his ADP to get out of the third or fourth rounds.
*Edit: Since the time I wrote this article, a tweet has been circulating that Jerick McKinnon has been "running lightly" with speculation that he may be placed on the PUP List to begin the season. Certainly a situation to monitor. My analysis is based on the projected time frame of nine months to fully recover from a torn ACL. Until the team officially says anything, I will be moving forward with the assumption Jerick McKinnon will be back later this summer.
Kyle Shanahan loves him some Slot. It's not Friday, but here comes Deebo! With their first pick in the second round of the 2019 draft, the 49ers got their Pierre Garcon replacement (replica) in Deebo Samuel. Just to show you what the slot receiver can do in a Shanahan offense, in 2013 Pierre Garcon had a career year going 181/113/1346/5. Garcon led the league in receptions that year. In 2012, had Garcon played all 16 games, and kept his pace, he would have gone 109/64/1013/6. The slot receiver has the ability to produce a lot of points in Shanahan's scheme.
Let's dig a little deeper into Deebo, and learn a little more about San Francisco's new slot man. From his scouting reports, Deebo is a smooth and polished route runner. Great at finding separation and space in the zone, as well as sudden ability to change directions. Deebo can also find the football and adjust to its trajectory, but he does have a limited catch radius. He has good speed, but won't necessarily blow the top off defenses. He won't need to, as the 49ers have Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis to do so.
I'm a big fan of the rookie, and believe he will be the second leading receiver on the team behind the monster of a man, George Kittle. I have Deebo going 96/64/896/4 in his rookie campaign. Compared to 2018 numbers, that would put him at WR32, and he's currently being drafted as WR57 in 13th round. I would consider that good value! Deebo is going to be a nice WR3 with upside for the 2019 season.
Thanks again for checking out FantasyPilots.com. Our goal is to get you a Fantasy Football Championship. You can follow us on Twitter @FF_Pilots, and you can follow me @MichaelVoyu. I'm more than happy to answer any fantasy questions you may have. Come back tomorrow as I wrap up the NFC West road trip, with our final stop in Seattle.