San Francisco 49ers preview 2023: Over or under 10.5 wins? Chances to claim NFC West title?

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San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, foreground, takes part in drills during the NFL team's football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

It’s NFL team preview time, and today we’re looking at the San Francisco 49ers. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from July 25 through Sept. 8, we will take an in-depth look at each team in the NFL with a 7- to 10-minute video going through impactful additions and departures, last year’s rankings and strength of schedule in 2023.

Home Field Sports analyst Jim Derry will then make a prediction on the team’s record this season and where they will finish in their respective division, along with the over/under win total, as posted at Caesars Sportsbook.

These stories are a brief summary of the accompanied preview videos – powered by the Dattitude Podcast (which will review each division every Friday until the season begins). The schedule for when each team will run is listed below with a link to each story and video that already has run.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

Coach: Kyle Shanahan (7th season)

2022 record: 13-4, 1st in NFC West; defeated Seattle, 41-23, in wild-card round; defeated Dallas, 19-12, in divisional round; lost to Philadelphia, 31-7, in NFC Championship.

Last season in a nutshell: It was not the greatest of starts for a team that was among the favorites in the NFC at the start of the season.

Trey Lance lost in the muck and mire in Chicago in the opener and then was injured for the season in Week 2 against Seattle. Jimmy Garoppolo stepped in, and it was a weird couple of months, as the Niners opened 3-4 after getting blown out by Kansas City.

However, everything changed after that. They won their final 10 regular-season games, and along the way, a star was born in quarterback Brock Purdy. Mr. Irrelevant – the award that goes to the last player picked in the draft – came out of nowhere and led San Francisco to the 2 seed in the NFC. (Oh, and he got just a little help from Christian McCaffrey, who was sent over from Carolina via trade.)

Purdy was outstanding not only in his month-long stint to finish off a 13-4 record but in his first two games in the playoffs, beating Seattle and Dallas. However, he was injured early in the NFC championship game, and the 49ers were blitzed by Philadelphia.

2023 bye week: 9

2023 Draft: 3 (87th overall) S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State; 3 (99) K Jake Moody, Michigan; 3 (101) TE Cameron Latu, Alabama; 5 (155) CB Darrell Luter, South Alabama; 5 (173) DE Robert Beal, Georgia; 6 (216) LB Dee Winters, TCU; 7 (247) TE Brayden Willis, Oklahoma; 7 (253) WR Ronnie Bell, Michigan; 7 (255) LB Jalen Graham, Purdue.

Free-agent signings: DT Javon Hargrave (from Philadelphia), 4 years, $84M; CB Isaiah Oliver (from Atlanta), 2 years, $6.75M; QB Sam Darnold (from Carolina), 1 year, $4.5M; DE Clelin Ferrell (from Las Vegas), 1 year, $2.5M; C Jon Feliciano (from NY Giants), 1 yr, $2.25M; QB Brandon Allen (from Cincinnati), 1 yr, $1.23M; G Matt Pryor (from Indianapolis), 1 yr, $1.13M; DE Austin Bryant (from Detroit), 1 yr, $1.11M; DE Darryl Johnson (from Seattle), 1 yr, $1.08M.

What needs to go right: First and foremost, for this team to be a championship contender, they need to settle early on which quarterback it’s going to be, and be all in. As of Aug. 3, it seems that Purdy is the man, and quite surprisingly, he seems to be fully healthy just 5 months after he tore his UCL in the NFC championship game.

Shanahan told NFL.com: “He’s had no arm troubles. He’s been totally healthy. I think he’s getting all his timing back, his rhythm.”

Meanwhile, Lance has struggled and seems relegated to either be traded (at a major discount) or third string behind, gulp, Sam Darnold.

Also, assuming all can get on the same quarterback page, can McCaffrey stay healthy and play anywhere near the level he did in his half-season with San Francisco last year. And if Deebo Samuel also can remain healthy, then what an offense this might be (as we haven’t yet even mentioned George Kittle or Brandon Aiyuk).

The league’s No. 1 defense took some hits to free agency – DE Samson Ebukam (to Indianapolis), DE Charles Omenihu (to Kansas City), S Jimmie Ward (to Houston) and CB Emmanuel Moseley (to Detroit), but they still should be one of the league’s best.

Key moments in video: How did they get THAT good in 2022? (1:02); Should this team be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl? (2:48); Rankings from 2022 and how that translates to this season (3:30); This is Brock Purdy’s and Christian McCaffrey’s team now (5:49); This schedule could help the Niners get past their shortcomings (7:04); Over/Under win totals, predictions and projected record and finish in division (8:46).

PREVIEW SCHEDULE / LINKS

AFC SOUTH

July 25: Houston Texans

July 26: Indianapolis Colts

July 27: Jacksonville Jaguars

July 28: Tennessee Titans

NFC WEST

Aug. 1: Arizona Cardinals

Aug. 2: Los Angeles Rams

Aug. 3: San Francisco 49ers

Aug. 4: Seattle Seahawks

AFC WEST

Aug. 8: Denver Broncos

Aug. 9: Kansas City Chiefs

Aug. 10: Las Vegas Raiders

Aug. 11: Los Angeles Chargers

NFC EAST

Aug. 15: Dallas Cowboys

Aug. 16: New York Giants

Aug. 17: Philadelphia Eagles

Aug. 18: Washington Commanders

AFC EAST

Aug. 22: Buffalo Bills

Aug. 23: Miami Dolphins

Aug. 24: New England Patriots

Aug. 25: New York Jets

NFC NORTH

Aug. 29: Chicago Bears

Aug. 29: Detroit Lions

Aug. 30: Green Bay Packers

Aug. 30: Minnesota Vikings

AFC NORTH

Aug. 31: Baltimore Ravens

Aug. 31: Cincinnati Bengals

Sept. 1: Cleveland Browns

Sept. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC SOUTH

Sept. 5: Atlanta Falcons

Sept. 6: Carolina Panthers

Sept. 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sept. 8: New Orleans Saints

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