The San Francisco 49ers were an unexpected success story in 2019. Coming off a four-win season in 2018, the 49ers welcomed back Jimmy Garoppolo from a knee injury and added Dee Ford and Nick Bosa to the pass rush. The defensive line turned into the top strength for the 49ers as their defense finished the season second in efficiency, and second in adjusted sack rate.
San Francisco rolled out of the gate on fire, winning eight straight to open the season. They finished the season 13-3, winning the NFC West and securing the top seed in the playoffs. The 49ers came up short in Super Bowl 54, blowing a 10-point lead in the four quarter en route to a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco’s strength mainly comes from its overpowering defensive line and running game, but the passing game could use some work. Rookie wideout Deebo Samuel has been a pleasant surprise, as he only trailed George Kittle in receiving yards and emerged as a strong catch/run threat. But the rest of the receiving corps could use some filling out. Emmanuel Sanders has fit in well since being acquired from the Broncos, but he is entering free agency and will be 33 in March. That’s not an optimal age for an extension. The team’s recent success and a statement year from Jimmy Garoppolo should be enough to entice other talented pass catchers to join.
The 49ers had a relatively sturdy front line at cornerback, but that’s not the case at safety. The oft-injured Jimmie Ward had a great year at free safety and is setting himself for a big contract in 2020. Whether San Francisco is willing to match his demands could have a huge impact on the league’s top pass defense. Building depth in the secondary could be crucial to continued success.
We won’t know the full regular season schedule until April, but with the 2019 season a wrap, we know each team’s list of opponents. The NFL has a formula they use to determine opponents, with divisions and conferences rotating each year.
The 49ers face their divisional opponents a total of six times. The NFC West faces the NFC East, which adds four more opponents. The NFC West faces the AFC East, which adds four more opponents. The final two opponents are the teams that finish in the same standing position in the NFC North and NFC South.