After shocking the world last year in finishing with a 13-3 record and earning a trip to the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers 2020 NFL win total is 10.5. Coming off their Super Bowl loss, many are wondering if they can hit the over on their 2020 season win total and repeat their impressive run from last year. Let’s dive in and find out.
San Francisco 49ers Offseason Breakdown
While the list of moves is relatively small, the players involved will have an impact on the San Francisco 49ers 2020 win total.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th overall pick, while wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left via free agency to join the New Orleans Saints. Franchise left tackle Joe Staley also departed the team via retirement.
The coaching staff remained intact, which is a rare commodity few teams get to enjoy. Several key players were lost, but the 49ers wasted no time in replacing them.
The 49ers used one of their two first-round draft picks on Javon Kinlaw to replace DeForest Buckner. Kinlaw is another massive human being the 49ers get to add to their vaunted defensive line.
While he won’t give you the same production Buckner would have this year, it was a smart move from what is one of the smarter franchises in the league. If you can get 70-75% of the production for roughly 1/10th of the price, you’d sign up for that deal every time.
The 49ers traded up at the end of round one to acquire Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with the 25th overall pick. Aiyuk was the WR10 in Tony Pauline’s wide receiver rankings, as well as the 46th prospect overall.
He had a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 8.46 (15th in the class), including marks of “Good” in speed and “Elite” in his explosion. He was reportedly the 49ers top-ranked receiver, and they were even prepared to take him with the 13th pick if it came to that. The 49ers thought enough of him to surrender a 4th round pick to ensure they secured him at the back-end of the first round.
The 49ers made the most significant acquisition on day three when they traded a 2021 3rd round draft pick and a 2020 5th rounder to acquire Washington Redskins offensive tackle, Trent Williams.
Williams sat out all of 2019 amidst a dispute with the Washington front office. While there is some ambiguity with his current conditioning, he was arguably the best left tackle in the league in 2018. While Joe Staley was a fan favorite and franchise staple, Williams is undoubtedly an upgrade.
Buckner was drafted 7th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft as part of the last draft class before the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch era. He had been a constant in the 49ers defensive front, missing only one start in his four-year tenure and playing an average of 83% of the snaps with the 49ers.
Emmanuel Sanders’ impact on the field was felt most in two separate games:
- Arizona Cardinals (7 receptions, 112 yards receiving)
- New Orleans Saints (7 receptions, 157 yards receiving, one receiving touchdown, and one passing touchdown)
He brought stability and veteran leadership to the receiving room and the locker room as a whole for that matter. As evidenced by the reaction on social media, his presence will surely be missed.
Running Back Matt Breida was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2020 5th round draft pick on draft day. While explosive, he ran into fumbling issues and never regained the trust of the coaching staff. Given Shanahan’s system’s knack for churning productive running backs, Breida was a luxury they could afford to lose.
The most substantial void left in the locker room belongs to Joe Staley. He started all 16 games eight of the 13 years he played for San Francisco. While he was never considered the best tackle in the league, he was as steady as they came during his career in San Francisco. The franchise and the fans will miss Staley.
Significant Coaching Changes
Defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Joe Woods signed with the Cleveland Browns, along with pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin. Other than those two losses, the 49ers are one of the few teams to experience no significant coaching changes in 2020. It bodes extremely well for the San Francisco 49ers 2020 season win total.
49ers Defensive Changes
Despite being involved in numerous head coaching vacancies, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh returns as the 49ers defensive coordinator. Saleh features a Wide-9 defensive concept that features speed rushers on the edge to disrupt the passing game. Headlined by defensive rookie of the year Nick Bosa, the 49ers defense was arguably the best in the league in 2019.
|Pass Defense DVOA||2nd|
|Adjusted Sack Rate||2nd (9%)|
|Yards Per Play||T-1st (4.7)|
|Expected Points Added||3rd (77.41)|
|Points Per Game||8th (19.4)|
The unit will return 10/11 starters from 2019. Buckner will be a significant loss, but Saleh will have the benefit of replacing him with first-round talent in Kinlaw. The secondary was historically bad in 2018 before improving to a top 5 unit in the league. Arguably the main reason for their turn around was the pass rush.
Since 2014, 37 teams recorded an adjusted sack rate of 7.5% or above. Twenty of those teams saw a decline in production the following year. Given the loss of DeForest Buckner, we should expect the pass rush to be slightly worse in 2020. They still have Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford, as well as regaining some depth they lost throughout 2019.
That said, if the pass rush is worse, the secondary will also struggle to be as dominant as they were in 2019. There’s no doubt the expected decline in defensive performance will have an impact on the San Francisco 49ers 2020 win total.
49ers Offensive Changes
With the defense due for regression, it will be up to the offense to carry the 49ers over their 2020 season win total. However, this is a better unit going into the season, despite losing Sanders and Staley.
The offensive line (8th adjusted line yards, 15th adjusted sack rate) is anchored by stud tackles, Mike McGlinchey and Williams. Pro Football Network draft analyst Matt Valdovinos ranked McGlinchey 11th among all tackles, Williams 8th. They return four of five starters on the offensive line, as well as the injured center Weston Richburg.
Aiyuk is a Deebo Samuel clone, while the 49ers possess the best play-caller and (arguably) best tight end in the league. The most significant question mark will be quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but I have no doubt he’s up to the challenge.
49ers Strength of Schedule Breakdown
The 49ers have a middling schedule, strength-wise, according to Warren Sharp. His metrics give the 49ers the 17th “easiest” schedule in the league, not daunting at all for trying to go over their 2020 win total.
The season begins with the Arizona Cardinals, who gave them fits last year without new addition DeAndre Hopkins. That is followed by back-to-back road games against the New York Jets and New York Giants. The 49ers will stay on the East Coast to limit their travel.
The first quarter of the season ends with a Sunday night showdown against the Eagles in San Francisco. While Philadelphia is a tough opponent, it is a bad schedule spot for the Eagles, being an East Coast team playing a night game on the West Coast.
After back-to-back home games against the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers begin the second toughest stretch of their schedule. It starts with a road game at the New England Patriots where Bill Belichick will be coming off a bye. That is followed by a road game at Seattle, then back home to face the Green Bay Packers on a Thursday night.
Despite that tough stretch, they get 10 days of rest before they travel to New Orleans to play the Saints before their bye week.
The 49ers have a road game against the Rams following their bye, then host back-to-back home games against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football and the Redskins.
The toughest stretch of their season figures to be the final three weeks. They have to travel to Dallas for a Sunday Night game, followed by a road game with the Cardinals. They cap off the season with a home game against rival Seattle.
As far as travel goes, the 49ers don’t have it all that tough. San Francisco has a 1 pm eastern start against the Jets in Week 2 but will stay on the East Coast for their early-season doubleheader in New York.
Their toughest stretch, travel-wise, is weeks 7-9. They go to New England for a 4:25 pm EST start time, back to the West Coast to play a road game in Seattle, and cap it off with a home game against Green Bay on short rest.
The only team they play off of extra rest is the New England Patriots. Not ideal, but it is only one team.
There are only two instances where the 49ers will be coming off of short rest themselves. One opponent is the Packers, who come on a Thursday night after back-to-back road games. The other is the Redskins.
The Week 16 game against the Cardinals could turn into a disadvantageous spot for the 49ers. That game is a candidate to be flexed to the Saturday slate. Considering they play the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, the 49ers could be facing a third situation where they will face an opponent while coming off of short rest.
If you like the Cardinals this year, try to find a sportsbook that offers spreads that far in advance and take Arizona as that number is sure to shrink.
There are two instances where the 49ers will play an opponent who is coming off of short rest themselves. I mentioned the Saints game above. The other situation is the Rams in Week 12: not only are the Rams coming off of short rest, but it’s also an East Coast to West Coast trip for them.
Back to back road trips: three (Weeks 2 and 3, 7 and 8, 15 and 16)
Facing an opponent who will have extra rest: two (Week 7 at New England, Week 9 vs. Green Bay) with the potential of a third (Week 16 at Arizona)
Facing opponent when the 49ers have extra rest: two (Week 10 at New Orleans, Week 12 at the Los Angeles Rams)
Offensive Strength of Schedule
There isn’t much change from the 49ers opponent’s actual defensive efficiency in 2019 to their projected efficiency in 2020 (17th to 18th). Where it gets interesting is when you look at the expected strength of pass defenses (14th easiest) to rush defenses (3rd hardest).
While 14th is right around league average, it’s an upgrade from last year, when they faced the 10th hardest schedule of pass defenses. More onus could be put on Garoppolo if that projected 3rd toughest schedule of rush defenses holds.
Defensive Strength of Schedule
The 49ers are projected to face the 3rd most challenging schedule of offenses, compared to the 13th most robust last season. That projection, however, is buoyed by the 4th hardest schedule of opposing rushing offenses. The schedule of passing attacks is a little more manageable, ranking as the 12th hardest.
Other than an expected downtick in defensive performance, the San Francisco 49ers 2020 win total shouldn’t be affected much by negative regression.
Their record in one-score games was 5-2 (on average, teams should finish 0.500 in these games, unless your QB is Russell Wilson). Pythagorean wins had them as a 12-win team, and they ended up with 13.
Football Outsiders has a way of measuring injuries called “adjusted games lost.” The 49ers were near the bottom in this metric, so they should be healthier this year. However, they have been among the most injured teams for several years now, so who knows if that will ever regress to the mean.
San Francisco was also among the league leaders in yards per play differential and point differential. There were no smoke and mirrors in 2019.
49ers Season Long/Win Total Bets
The San Francisco 49ers 2020 win total currently sits at 10.5. I think the bookmakers did an excellent job with this number. San Francisco is one of the better teams in the league, with an elite head coach and (in my opinion) above-average quarterback. They retain continuity in the coaching staff, QB, and offensive line, which will be a huge advantage.
However, I think their schedule is a bit harder than their 17th ranking via Warren Sharp’s metrics. They play both the NFC East and AFC East. While New England lost Tom Brady, I expect improvement in both divisions in 2020.
There is also the “Super Bowl hangover” factor to consider. In my Rams preview last offseason, I mentioned how only 41% of teams who made it to the conference championship the year before made it back to the playoffs the following year.
This one is tough. On the one hand, you have inevitable regression coming from the defense, arguably the toughest division in the NFL and a “tougher than it appears” schedule. I could be wrong in my faith in Jimmy Garoppolo as well. He could very well be a league-average game manager incapable of carrying a team when needed.
On the other hand, they are one of the few teams who have continuity at head coach, quarterback, and offensive line, which could catapult them over their season win total of 10.5.
San Francisco 49ers 2020 Win Total
I think the 49ers are an excellent football team, with an elite head coach and above-average quarterback. They’re too good for me to suggest the under on their win total. However, as PFN’s senior betting analyst Chris Smith said on the Against the Spread podcast, a lot more has to go right for them to hit the over than has to go wrong for them to hit the under.
I don’t have a play here. If you think Garoppolo can’t do it, the defense takes a huge step back, and Shanahan is a fraud, there’s tremendous value for you with the “no” on their “to make the playoffs” prop at Bovada and FanDuel (+300).
Another play I kind of like is their exact division finish at Bet Online. You can bet them to finish second in their division at (+240). I don’t see the Rams or Cardinals surpassing the 49ers in the division. If you’re convinced the 49ers don’t win the division, you can bet them to finish 2nd and 3rd (+340) and lock in a profit. That’s what I would do if I believed they were in for a letdown.
San Francisco 49ers 2020 Win Total 10.5
James Aguirre is a writer for PFN covering NFL betting and fantasy football. You can follow him on Twitter @James_AG1.