It has been nearly a decade since San Francisco posted 10 wins in back-to-back seasons. All the pieces are in place for that to happen in 2022.
San Francisco won 10 games during the regular season and came three points away from reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in the last three years.
If quarterback Trey Lance is as good as advertised, the offense could have a little added punch. There were some key departures on defense but any team with Nick Bosa and Fred Warner leading the way has the potential to be an elite defense.
Something of note for those who bet online, the 49ers covered in seven of the last eight games a season ago.
The 49ers (+175) trail only the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the current odds to win the NFC West Division title. According to the NFL predictions, San Francisco (+1600) is tied for seventh in the odds to win the Super Bowl.
- 2021 record: 10-7 (second in NFC West)
- Playoff result: Lost to the Los Angeles Rams 20-17 in the NFC championship game after eliminating the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.
- Season opener: at Chicago Bears, Sept. 11, 10 p.m. EDT
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Arizona, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City, Tampa Bay; AWAY – Arizona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams.
- Key newcomers: S George Odum, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, DE Kerry Hyder, DE Kemoko Turay, WR Malik Turner, TE Tyler Kroft, DE Drake Jackson (second-round pick), RB Tyrion Davis-Price (third-round pick), WR Danny Gray (third-round pick); OT Spencer Burford (fourth-round pick).
- Key losses: OL Laken Tomlinson, RB Raheem Mostert, S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Josh Norman, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Richie James, WR Trent Sherfield, DT D.J. Jones, CB K’Waun Williams, S-LB Marcel Harris, OL Tom Compton, DE Arden Key.
- Award candidates: Deebo Samuel, +900 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Nick Bosa, +1100 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Drake Jackson, +3300 in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds; George Kittle, +4000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Trey Lance, +4000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Fred Warner, +5000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Elijah Mitchell, +6000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Brandon Aiyuk, +10000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Arik Armstead, +10000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds.
There is a bit of a changing of the guard taking place within the San Francisco offense with second-year quarterback Trey Lance and running back Elijah Mitchell expected to take on key roles.
Mitchell finished eighth in the NFL with 963 rushing yards as a rookie as he took full advantage of injuries to other running backs. Lance, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, only saw limited action as a rookie. The 49ers gave up two first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up nine spots in the 2021 NFL Draft to take the former North Dakota State star.
With the keys of the offense being handed to Lance, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could be on the move. He is coming off a season when he passed for 3,810 yards. However, with so many teams using early picks on quarterbacks in 2021, teams aren’t clamoring to trade for quarterbacks.
Leading receiver Deebo Samuel, who had 1,405 receiving yards and another 365 on the ground, hasn’t hidden his displeasure with his contract situation. However, it looks like he will be returning to the team with tight end George Kittle to give Lance a pair of elite receiving options.
Brandon Aiyuk is another top receiver. Ray-Ray McCloud was brought in from Pittsburgh while Danny Gray was picked in the third round. San Francisco finished third in the NFL in total defense last season.
It was surprising to see the 49ers use its second pick on LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price considering that Mitchell, Trey Sermon, and Jeff Wilson all return.
San Francisco used a first-round pick on offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey in 2018 and a second-round selection on Aaron Banks in 2021. San Francisco gave up two picks in the 2021 draft to acquire Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.
On defense, the secondary will have a different look without safety Jaquiski Tartt as well as cornerbacks Josh Norman and K’Waun Williams. Safety George Odum was brought in from Indianapolis and cornerback Charvarius Ward was signed away from Kansas City. Odum and Ward combined for 122 tackles and three interceptions last season.
There is plenty of returning talent on defense. Nick Bosa had 15½ sacks a season ago while Fred Warner led the 49ers with 137 tackles. It could be argued that they are the best players at their position in the NFL. Azeez Al-Shaair added 102 stops.
— ESPN (@espn) July 19, 2022
Arik Armstead is another pass rusher to keep an eye on. The 49ers took USC’s Drake Jackson in the second round of the NFL Draft and added Kerry Hyder and Kemoko Turay.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was limited to three games last season. His return should strengthen a solid defense.
Jimmy Ward (77 tackles, two interceptions) and Emmanuel Moseley return in the secondary. Having Jason Verrett back after he was limited to just one game a season ago will also be a huge help. Keep an eye on second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga, another impressive late-round draft selection by the 49ers.
San Francisco has moved ahead of Arizona in the odds to win the division and the question is whether the 49ers have enough pieces in place to win the NFC West for the second time in the last four seasons. It won’t be easy as the NFC West was the only division to have three playoff teams last season.
Back-to-back games against the Russell Wilson-led Denver Broncos and the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles in Weeks 3 and 4 will provide an early glimpse at how ready the 49ers are to become one of the NFL’s elite teams.
There is another challenging stretch with games against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Arizona Cardinals.
The NFL betting lines have the expected regular-season win total of 10 with the odds almost equal for going either under or over that total.