And now, the 49ers.
After weeks and weeks of marveling, processing, trying-to-explain Gabe Kapler’s outrageously successful Giants on the Jock Blog, let’s just leave them on the First Place Express for a while.
It’s 49ers season.
Here’s my take: I’m high on ‘em.
Call your bookies, because I have the 49ers beating the Lions in Detroit and covering the nine-point spread.
First, the disclaimers. I’d like more depth at wide receiver. I’d like more depth/talent at cornerback. I am hopeful Nick Bosa does not prove injury-prone.
Other than that? Dayum, they’re good.
And yes, Jimmy G haters, I do know No. 10 is still on the roster.
Believe it or. not, I think the guy who has gone 22-8 as 49ers starter can win a few games for them before Kyle Shanahan — IF Kyle Shanahan — decides to install Trey Lance as the full-time starter sometime this fall.
This is how much faith I have in the roster Shanahan and GM John Lynch have built: they are 29-35 since they got to Santa Clara, and I am very much looking forward to the next five years. I believe they will contend every year — particularly because the scintillating young talent that is Trey Lance will be here and be the starting QB.
The 49ers can run the ball, and can win running the ball. Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon running behind Trent Williams, Alex Mack, George Kittle and the crew will control the clock, the chains and momentum.
The 49ers can throw enough to win. Kittle is one of Earth’s most valuable weapons, and while the aforementioned wide receiver depth is one of the things I’d like changed — hello, Jalen Hurd and Dante Pettis, in the name of painful draft misses — balls caught by Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will be augmented by Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk.
Shanahan will move the football. One of the game’s most innovative play-callers will give the 49ers matchup advantages all over the field, and once he’s able to deploy Lance in red-zone packages and two-point conversions, the possibilities just grow.
Perhaps most important, the 49ers can control the line of scrimmage from their defensive front. Bosa’s film speaks for itself; the only cloud on the dude is health. You may now knock on the nearest wood. Same goes for Javon Kinlaw, whose knee is keeping him out of the opener. That’s not great. Dee Ford’s tender back bears watching, too.
The fallback plan? Arik Armstead, DJ Jones, Samson Ebukam, Kentavius Street, Kevin Givens, Arden Key, Zach Kerr. Yeah, so, that’s nice. So is All-Pro Fred Warner, newly-minted, playing behind them. And if Bosa/Ford/Kinlaw can play the majority of the season? Hoo, boy.
Cornerback has been an issue for a while now, but the two draft picks — Demo Lenoir out of Oregon and Ambry Thomas out of Michigan — flashed in preseason. The safety out of USC, Talanoa Hufanga, gives off ball-hunting vibes. Those three new defensive backs alone are the best news the defensive backfield has gotten in some time.
I know it would be much spicier to be a cynic about the 49ers, just to liven things up. It would be good Jock Blog sport to question the direction of the team, heckle management, rip Levi’s Stadium, cry for Jed to sell.
I can’t do it. I like the squad.
The schedule is favorable: opening at tomato cans Detroit and Philly; December games vs. Cincinnati, Houston, Atlanta. The NFC West will be tough, as always, but that’s the fun part.
I have the 49ers at 12-5. Sue me for being a Pollyanna. Can’t wait for the playoffs.