The San Francisco 49ers had a great season in 2022 despite using four different quarterbacks throughout the year and playoffs. Unfortunately for them, their star rookie quarterback Brock Purdy got hurt in the NFC Championship game, and then so did Josh Johnson. This caused Purdy to return to the game and only do hand-offs. However, the team did discover that their new franchise quarterback wasn’t Trey Lance, who only played six quarters before suffering a broken ankle that ended his season. It wasn’t Jimmy Garappolo either who suffered another season-ending injury. Instead, it was Brock Purdy, who no one even expected to play last year.
The NFL season is a strange time, and insanity can often happen. However, the 49ers have their quarterback, an entire season of Christian McCaffrey, and the returning Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan has long been a great NFL Head Coach. With his coaching, the San Francisco 49ers are well-primed to return to the playoffs with their many stars on the offensive side.
The miracle that saved the San Francisco 49ers season returns for year two fresh off elbow surgery and looking no worse for the wear. Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant last year, selected last overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. Now, he’s the QB1 for the reigning NFC West Division Champions. Life comes at you fast in the NFL, and your career can change anytime. Purdy showcased a ton of talent and mastery of a complicated Shanahan offense late in the season last year. He didn’t rush much as he’s much more of a pocket passer, a better fit for the Shanny system. Last year, over six games, Purdy had 1,374 yards on a 67.1% completion rate with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed 22 times for 13 yards and a touchdown. However, Purdy will excel in the system and be a fantasy QB2 force.
Purdy, when expanded to an entire season, was on pace for 37 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and 3,706 yards. Those are darn good numbers, even though the yardage should be over 4,000. Yet, that’s the 49ers’ system. Thanks to their elite defense, they don’t need a ton of yardage to dominate you. My projections for Purdy are quite similar, which would put him at low-end QB1/high-end QB2 in six-point touchdown leagues. I have him down for 3,931 yards, 36 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 31 sacks, 180 rushing yards on 62 attempts, a rushing touchdown, and eight fumbles. That’s good for 21.3 PPG. That’s plenty good, especially for a quarterback you could get for a late first. Considering he’s only 24 and super cheap in the NFL, that’s worth paying for, especially as a contender. The 49ers would be wise to continue building around him, especially for his cheap salary cap hit.
This appears to be Purdy’s backfield. Throughout Training Camp, Purdy has been clear and away the better quarterback and the man who is getting all the First-Team reps. Sam Darnold has mostly taken the second and third team reps, and then some going Lance’s way. Lance was the starter last year before a freak broken ankle injury happened that ended his season in the second game. However, he’s yet to do anything of note with the limited chances he has had, and he’s now entering his third season. With Purdy already recovered from his elbow injury and showing no issues and Shanahan signing Darnold, the writing is on the wall for Lance.
I wouldn’t want anything to do with him in dynasty. At best, he’s the QB2 behind a quarterback that isn’t super mobile and should avoid most injuries. At worst, he’s QB3 and the clipboard holder all year until the 49ers cut bait and trade him. He and Darnold are both roster-able after how many quarterback injuries the San Francisco 49ers had last year. But don’t expect Lance ever to reach the multi-first-round picks trade value you could’ve gotten last year. The 49ers seem to be operating with the sunk cost fallacy from business regarding Trey Lance.
McCaffrey absolutely thrived upon coming over at the trade deadline to the 49ers via a trade with the Carolina Panthers. He destroyed opposing defenses and dominated fantasy. Finally, CMC was fully healthy for a whole season and showed the world just how elite he is. And why he’s the clear RB1 in fantasy, especially for contenders. Over 11 games, McCaffrey put up 746 yards over 159 attempts with six touchdowns on the ground. He caught 52 of 65 targets for 464 yards and four more touchdowns through the air. On a 17-game basis, CMC was on pace for 245 attempts, 1,153 yards, nine rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns, 100 targets, 80 catches, and 717 receiving yards. That’s just absolutely insane.
That’s why he’s the best guy to own in fantasy if you want to win right now. He’s still in his prime at age-27, and no one can come close to his ability to pile up the yardages and points. I’d easily trade a mid-first to acquire the RB1 for contenders. As long as he’s healthy, he a fantasy cheat code by far. As for my star projections for the RB King, I project CMC to have 246 rushes for 1,154 yards, nine touchdowns, 98 targets, 75 catches, 619 yards, and six more touchdowns. That’s en route for 20.1 PPG in PPR. CMC wants the crown once again.
The 49ers have a litany of backup running backs, from Elijah Mitchell, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Jordan Mason, to name a few. The only guy to know is Mitchell. The former starter has endured two injury-plagued seasons, especially last year when he missed 12 games. While he only played five games, he was amazing on the ground. Mitchell averaged 6.2 yards per carry over 45 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Those are decent RB4 numbers that would jump extremely high should CMC miss time. Although, don’t expect anything from Mitchell in the receiving game. He’s the only name to know, as the others are a mystery bag as to who performs this year. Mitchell should be rostered, especially if you have CMC. He’s worth a late-second-round pick. Just don’t expect him to be used much, but he’s the best handcuff in fantasy.
Deebo continued to be a dynamic fantasy football player showcasing his elite skills both in the receiving and rushing games. However, he also showed how easy it is to get hurt when you do so much in these two parts of the game. He missed four-plus games but still put up WR2 numbers on a per-game basis. He didn’t come close to his career numbers in 2021. Still, the 26-year-old did well with 56 catches on 94 targets for 632 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He rushed 42 times on the ground for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He seemed to have a solid rapport with Brock Purdy, but he didn’t play many games with him due to injury.
Although, in the playoff game against the Seahawks, Deebo went off for 133 yards and a touchdown with only six catches on nine targets. That could easily continue in the Shanahan system and with Purdy’s reliable accuracy in the mid-short game. That’s why I project Samuel to return to putting up high-end WR2 numbers over 16 games with a 14.5 PPR average. He will have 47 rushes for 255 yards and four touchdowns, along with 105 targets, 67 catches, 805 yards, and six touchdowns. Those are solid numbers for the star San Francisco 49ers wide receiver. Only if you’re a contender do you take the risk of Deebo on. He’s still worth a first, but acquiring another high-upside wide receiver might be wise if you need a WR2.
Aiyuk had by far the best season of his career last year with 78 receptions, 114 targets, 1,015 yards, and eight touchdowns with two rushes for 23 yards over 17 games. He proved that he’s getting used to the NFL with each of those numbers career highs and a great 68+% catch rate. Aiyuk was finally used as the clear WR1 ahead of Samuel, who missed time and was more of a gadget player. Purdy showed a good rapport with Aiyuk. Plus, to make it better, it’s a contract year for him. There’s a great chance he improves even more this year with big money on the line from either the San Francisco 49ers or someone else.
Brandon Aiyuk is a skilled WR2 in dynasty. He’s not going to put up regular WR1 numbers, at least not without an injury to CMC, Kittle, or someone else. Still, I project Aiyuk to average 15 ppg in PPR with 115 targets, 78 receptions, 1,076 yards, and nine touchdowns. He will be used a lot but likely won’t ever reach the heights he could reach due to the overwhelming amount of talent on offense on the San Francisco 49ers. In dynasty, I’d gladly go for him with a late-first-round pick or so. He’s young (only 25) and will put up good numbers, especially as your potential WR3. The risk is there, though, if he signs an un-fantasy friendly contract, but championship wins fly forever.
The 49ers aren’t rich in quality backups at wide receiver. Their two main guys are Jauan Jennings and second-year pro Danny Gray. Gray was a non-factor last year, with only seven targets and one catch. Jennings was far more used, with 35 catches on 56 targets for 416 yards and a touchdown. So, for this year, don’t expect much. Neither are fantasy relevant. Jennings has more value, but only if Deebo or Aiyuk miss time. Otherwise, they are waiver fodder at best. Likely, either of them is the seventh target on the roster.
George Kittle had a fantastic season last year, proving he has plenty left in the tank, even with missing two games. His season took off once Purdy was under center. With Purdy under center, Kittle was a red zone cheat code. Over six games, he had 24 catches on 35 targets for 315 yards and seven touchdowns. That would put him on pace over 15 games for 60 catches, 88 targets, 789 yards, and 18 touchdowns. If he were healthy for all 17 games, there would be some eye-popping numbers. For Kittle to maintain dynasty and fantasy relevance for the next few years, he needs Purdy under quarterback. He doesn’t block as much with Purdy. Plus, he’ll get plenty of targets serving as a crucial reliable target for the young and developing quarterback.
In 2022, Kittle had 60 catches on 86 targets, 765 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That’s extremely close to his projections with Purdy. The upside comes in his touchdown rate, as he had only four touchdowns prior to Purdy. Regardless, in 1.5 TEP PPR, I project Kittle to be a top-five tight end in fantasy with a 16.5 ppg average over 16 games. He will see 99 targets, 68 receptions, 875 yards, and 13 touchdowns. The 49ers have only rookies really for depth behind Kittle. So long as he stays healthy, he’s a lethal tight end weapon for your dynasty team. If I’m contending, I’d gladly pay a late first in TEP leagues for Kittle. The San Francisco 49ers continue to have a cheat code at tight end.
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As always, May the Force be with You…