While the 49ers offense is going to be a highly powerful, highly functioning machine in the running and passing game, the majority of their individual players aren’t really great fantasy bets. The San Francisco 49ers are going to try and spread the football, distributing it to several players, and have several weapons and options on the offensive side of the ball. This means there isn’t one or two or three guys that will put up crazy fantasy numbers (except the Quarterback). They don’t have an Adrian Peterson, or Calvin Johnson on their team, but that being said, they have a few guys on the offensive side of the ball who will produce for your fantasy squad this year. Here are the top five fantasy players for the San Francisco 49ers:
1. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick – I am going to give away one of my fantasy secrets here. I am drafting Kaepernick as early as I can. Even if your league uses a 4pt per TD pass system, guys like Kap, and Cam Newton, and RGIII are of more value as they are rushing QB’s. While they may not throw for 300 yrds and two TD’s every game, they’re going to get both passing and rushing touchdowns every game, and have the ability to pass for two touchdowns and rush for one. Kap has the ability to throw for 250 Yards and 100 Rushing yards per game. Now, obviously, he isn’t going to do that every game I am just saying he has the ABILITY to, but, I can give you a realistic number of 40 to 60 rushing yards per game, plus one rushing touchdown, and one passing touchdown on average. If you play in a standard format league, with 1 pt per 10 rushing yards, that’s 16 points per game (6+4+6=16), just from rushing yards, rushing and passing touchdowns. Factor in passing yards, and you have a monster at the QB position in Kaepernick. Number Seven is mocking in the 3rd or 4th rounds, however, I think this guy is going to have a huge year and if he is around at the end of the second round, or if I’ve had one too many Coors Lights before my league’s offline draft, I may even take him at the end of the first round if I have a high pick, but take him no less than number 10. There are many other players with better value at that position.
2. Running Back Frank Gore – Every season the fantasy “experts” proclaim that Gore’s production is going to be lower and lower, and every season Frank Gore proves them wrong. For the past three* seasons he is a consistent 1,200 8 TD guy averaging 75 yards per game. The 49ers, contrary to what people think, are a running team. They ran the football almost 500 times last season, as opposed to throwing it 430. The Niners have a lot of weapons in the running game, with Gore, Kaepernick, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, but Gore anchors the rushing attack, and should be productive again this year. Look for the same numbers. He should get around 70 yards per game 8 or 9 touchdowns and 1200 yards rushing on the season barring injury, and a breakout year from James. The 3rd round is a good bet for Gore.
*Note on Gore- He was injured in 2010 and missed five games, however, he was on pace to average 1200-8 and 77 ypg.
3. Tight End Vernon Davis – With the loss of Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target, and Number One Receiver Michael Crabtree, look for Kaepernick to find a new favorite target in Vernon Davis. Davis is a top three tight end regardless, but now he is going to be targeted even more in the 49ers offense. Look for him to line up both in a three point stance, and on the outside in the slot. He most likely won’t have WR eligibility, but he’s a TE who plays like a Wide Receiver. He could average up to 60 yards of receiving per game, plus 8 or 9 touchdowns over the course of the season. Granted, this prediction is based off of his career numbers rather than last year’s numbers, as last season was an off year for Vernon. Expect Vernon Davis to put up better numbers this year, and can probably be had in your draft at around the 6th or 7th rounds.
4. San Francisco Defense/Special Teams – In 2012, the 49ers Defense was 3rd in the league in total defense, 3rd in Passing Yards per Game, and 4th in Rushing Yards Per Game (but, take that with a grain of salt, as, if it wasn’t for Marshawn Lynch they probably would have been second). They were second in the league in total points with 273 points given up to the opposing team, and again, if it wasn’t for Marshawn Lynch torching them, they’d be number one, and second in points per game with 17. They netted only 14 interceptions, which puts them in the middle of the pack for that category, as Carlos Rogers came back down to earth last season. They were in the middle of the pack in QB Sacks as well with 38, and Aldon Smith supplying 19.5 of those. The 9ers defense is so valuable because of the points per game, and yards per game. You lose the most points on defense, the more times the opposing offense scores and opposing offenses don’t score on the 9ers.
The Special Teams should see a major improvement this season, as the ineffective Ted Ginn is gone, and LaMichael James is set to be the main punt returner/KR2. We saw what James could do with punt return’s while at Oregon, and while the college game is much different, expect James to excel at Punt Return duty. He should average more than Ginn’s 23.3 Yards Per Return, or Kyle Williams’ 27.2 (although, that was only on 13 attempts). Expect to take the 9ers D whenever the run on Defenses happen, probably in the 9th or 10th rounds.
5. Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin – Boldin last season averaged 61 yards of receiving per game on 65 total receptions and a total of four touchdowns with the Ravens. He posted 15 yards per reception totaling 991 total yards of receiving, which lead the team. He was not the go to guy in the redzone however, as both Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta (who is out for the season) had eight and seven touchdowns respectively. I’d expect about the same production this year out of Boldin. He may be the number one wide out by default, but Vernon is decidedly the number one option for the 49ers. I can see his touchdown numbers going up to around six or seven, as he is a big receiver, with great hands and can be used as a redzone threat. He could be a nice value pick in the later rounds, and could even serve as your flex if your league plays with the flex position.
*Honorable Mentions* – Kicker Phil Dawson – Dawson will be a vast improvement from last seasons kicker David Akers. Dawson’s FG% was 93.5% with 29/31 FG’s attempted plus 7/7 on kicks from 50 or more yards totaling 116 total points. However, he will net you a lot more total fantasy points as field goals from 50 yards are worth more.
Running Backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter – James and Hunter are the wild cards in the 9ers offense this year. They will both spell Gore on third downs, or when he needs rest. These guys are both very fast, and Hunter was looking like the real deal before he went down last season with an Achilles injury. James could be in for a breakout year, as the 9ers could use him as a Reggie Bush type, by getting him outside of the hash marks, and throwing to him out of the backfield. I am not saying that either of these guys should be drafted. MAYBE James in the very late rounds, but they would make a pretty nice waiver wire pick up if your RB has a bye or a catastrophe happens and both of your RB’s go down. I’ve had it happen, it was tragic.
Again, The Niners don’t have an Adrian Peterson type. There isn’t anyone with the exception of Kaepernick (maybe) who is going to get you 20 points per week, but, while they don’t have the one dominant guy, they have several solid fantasy options, and good value picks. You shouldn’t go wrong by drafting a 49er in your fantasy draft this year. Best of luck, and happy drafting!