Preseason has come and gone. The roster has been set. All that’s left for the 49ers is to focus on the season ahead which will kick off Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. As we wrap up Labor Day weekend, now is the perfect time to make some predictions for the 2023 season.
San Francisco has not had a quarterback named to the Pro Bowl since Jeff Garcia in 2002. Brock Purdy will breakthrough to end the drought this season.
Purdy performed beyond everyone’s imagination as a rookie last year.
The final pick in the draft, Prudy took over in week 13 against Miami after Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were lost for the season with injuries. Instead of shrinking under the pressure of a playoff push, Purdy excelled.
Purdy led the 49ers to victory over the Dolphins, then proceeded to win his next seven starts including two in the postseason. During the win streak the rookie threw 16 touchdown passes to just three interceptions.
During his rookie season, Purdy averaged 8.1 yards per pass attempt. He will keep that pace up in 2023 and give the 49ers their first 4,000 yard passer since Jeff Garcia in 2000.
2. Christian McCaffrey will not go for 1,000/1,000
McCaffrey’s ability as a receiver has many wondering if he could match Roger Craig as 49ers to go over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year. Although McCaffrey was able to pull off the feat with Carolina in 2019, the numbers don’t work for it to happen in San Francisco.
Last season McCaffrey averaged 8.9 yards per reception, the second highest total of his career. At that average, it would take 113 receptions for McCaffrey to get over 1,000 yards. The 49ers don’t throw the ball enough and have two many other weapons for the running back to reach those numbers as a receiver.
Although he will come up short as a receiver, McCaffrey will reach the 1,000 yard mark on the ground.
3. Deebo Samuel will be the 49ers leading receiver
Although Brandon Aiyuk was the start of training camp, it will be Deebo Samuel who will lead be the 49ers leading receiver in 2023.
Unlike last year when he was in a contract dispute with the team, Samuel came into training camp in shape. The fifth-year receiver has looked explosive, and looks like he can regain his 2021 form if Kyle Shanahan gets him the ball down the field.
Samuel’s average depth of target last season was just 4.3 yards last season. The year before when he went over 1,400 yards, Samuel had an average depth of target of 8.4 yards.
4. Nick Bosa will lead the 49ers in sacks despite missing the first two games
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed all of training camp while looking for a new contract from the 49ers. With no end in sight, it looks as though Bosa will miss regular season games. My prediction is he will miss the first two.
Still, Bosa will be the 49ers sacks leader.
Last year, no 49er defender was able to get over five sacks. The outlook is much the same this season with Drake Jackson, Clelin Ferrell, Kerry Hyder Jr, and Austin Bryant being the other edge rushers.
San Francisco did spend big money to add Javon Hargrave in free agency, however he has eclipsed 7.5 sacks in a season just once.
5. Kyle Shanahan will hold on to the 10-point fourth quarter lead
For Kyle Shanahan, 10-point fourth quarter leads in the playoffs have been troublesome.
Twice, once as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta and once as the head coach in San Francisco, Shanahan’s teams have gone into the fourth quarter with the lead. Both times they failed to capture the Lombardi Trophy.
That will change this season as Shanahan and the 49ers will walk out of Allegiant Stadium in February as Super Bowl champions.