The San Francisco 49ers 2023-2024 season comes with high expectations. After trading Trey Lance to Dallas, the future relies on 2023 Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy. Falling just one game short of a Super Bowl berth, the Niners look to complete their quest for their sixth Super Bowl. With a top-three defense, a top-three tight end, a brilliant play caller and some might say the best running back in the game, this might be the year to do it.
The Niners began their year with Lance as their starting quarterback hoping the top-three pick would reach his potential despite playing only one full season at North Dakota State. In week 2, Lance broke his ankle abruptly ending his season. Jimmy Garoppolo was once again the starter and played most of the season. In the stretch, the Niners went 8-4 and were in control of the division. They also acquired Christian McCaffrey in a blockbuster trade which boosted the offense tremendously. Once again another quarterback injury occurred when Garoppolo broke his foot ending his season. That’s when Purdy took over and became a hot comedy. He had a 13-4 touchdown to interception ratio and went undefeated down the stretch. That’s until they were blown out by Philly in the NFC Championship game and were dealt with another quarterback injury. Purdy got knocked out of the game right elbow tear on the first drive.
In a season where there was a Russian roulette of quarterbacks, the Niners still managed to get the second seed in the conference and had a deep playoff run. Having McCaffrey and Kyle Shanahan calling the shots makes for any quarterback to succeed in their system. Meanwhile, the strength of their team, their defense which is headlined by All-Pros Fred Warner and Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa is ranked first in total yards and points allowed with 16.3 points per game. Despite the ending result, this season was a big success.
Defensive Tackle Javon Hargrave
With Javon Kinlaw dealing with multiple injuries the past couple of seasons and entering the final year of his contract, the Niners found another Javon to replace him. Hargrave was rated as the top-rated free agent according to NFL.com. Hargrave was part of the Eagles Super Bowl run in 2022. He averaged 23.0 sacks over the past three seasons, including a career-high 11.0 last season. His best game against the Niners in the playoffs was when he had a sack, five tackles, and a pass defensed. This was a surprising move by San Fran considering they only have less than 10 million in cap space. Adding to an already elite defensive line makes for case the best unit in the NFL. He will join Bosa and Arik Armstead to make for one hell of a pass rush. Not to mention, taking away a pivotal key player from a conference rival is a plus.
Cornerback Isaiah Oliver
After losing Emmanuel Moseley in free agency. The cornerback position became a need for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2023-2024 offseason. Oliver brings versatility to the secondary. Oliver played 238 of his 331 defensive snaps in the slot last season. If you play nickel, you better be able to mix it up as a run defender. Per PFF, Oliver ranked the sixth-best run defender among all cornerbacks. Despite a late start to the season after recovering from a season-ending knee injury from the prior season, Oliver had a 57.1 percent completion percentage in 12 games. He also had six pass breakups, an interception, and three tackles for loss in 2022. Only 26 years old, he could be the long-term nickelback for the future. One of the more under-the-radar signings in the offseason.
Kicker Jake Moody
Perhaps the most interesting and riskier moves of the offseason, Moody was drafted by the Niners in 3rd round in this year’s draft. Surprisingly high for a kicker especially considering the Niners don’t have a pick in the first two rounds. Moody was the consensus best kicker in the country at Michigan, averaging a career field goal percentage of 82%, a 2021 Lou Garza award winner, and a two-time All-American the past two seasons. He will be replacing longtime kicker Robbie Gould who is currently a free agent. However, Moody struggled in the preseason, only making 50% of his field goals and a right quadriceps strain has status in limbo for Week 1. It’s a big risk drafting a kicker that high, but only time will tell if the rookie will live up to his college career.
Projected Depth Chart
QB: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold
RB: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price
FB: Kyle Juszczyk
WR: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Juan Jennings, Chris Conley, Willie Snead, Ronnie Bell
TE: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley
LT: Trent Williams, Jaylon Moore
LG: Aaron Banks, Nick Zakelj
C: Jake Brendel, Keith Ismael
RG: Spencer Burford, Jon Feliciano
RT: Colton McKivitz, Matt Pryor
DT: Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Javon Kinlaw, Marlon Davidson, Kevin Givens
LOLB: Oren Burks Ball, Curtis Robinson
MLB: Fred Warner, Demetrius Flannigan
ROLB: Dre Greenlaw, Marcelino McCrary
CB: Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver, Ambry Thomas, Samuel Wormack III
S: Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson Sr, Ji’Ayir Brown, George Odum
K: Jake Moody
P: Mitch Wishnowsky
PR/KR: Willie Snead IV
The San Francisco 49ers are the one of betting favorites to win the NFC and become Super Bowl contenders in the 2023-2024 season. The only NFC team that could challenge them is the Eagles. Purdy will continue to thrive in Shanahan’s offense and the defense will be ranked top three once again. I expect them to at least make it back to the NFC Championship game. The big question is, can Purdy rise to the occasion which Garoppolo failed to do? In Super Bowl LIV, Garoppolo overthrew a deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders that could’ve been a house call. Instead, they choked a 10-point lead over in a loss to the Chiefs. In the 2021 NFC Championship, they repeated their failure by blowing another 10-point lead to the Rams with Aaron Donald’s game-sealing stripped sack. We haven’t seen enough Purdy to determine that, but we will these next six months.
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