The San Francisco 49ers have built an offense which features a plethora of potential fantasy football phenoms. The offense is led by Kyle Shanahan, who is known for his creative west coast and zone running schemes. That creativity is great for the 49ers win potential in 2019, but it makes things difficult for fantasy football players. It is universally expected for a top running back and wideout to come from their crowded depth chart, the question is: which players will it be?
In this article, I skip over TE George Kittle and QB Jimmy Garoppolo who are obvious key focal points in this offense to try and predict who will emerge as starters as we lead up to 49er training camp
Average Draft Position: 6.03
Coleman is coming off a career season; rushing for 800 yards and 4 touchdowns while catching 32 passes for 276 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2018. Coleman started 14 games in 2018, compared to just 6 previous starts for the Falcons, after Devonta Freeman went down with an early-season injury. Despite career highs in 2018, Coleman still leaves a lot to be desired: the former 3rd round pick out of Indiana has never eclipsed 4.8 yards per carry. Despite taking over the starting job early, Coleman still only saw 192 total touches, just 15 more than 2017. Coleman joined the 49ers in free agency, signing a 2-year deal worth $8.5 million to reunite him with Shannahan.
This is perhaps the toughest fantasy football situation to parse out this season. Ultimately I lean toward either Coleman or Breida. McKinnon has a lack of proven success despite opportunity in Minnesota and now carries a knee injury with him into the 2019 season. Coleman showed improved yards per carry in 2018 (4.8 yards/carry, compared to 4.5 or less per carry every other season) and ultimately was targeted by his former coach in Atlanta for a reason. That reason, I believe, is to be a dual-threat back with pass-catching upside. I do not love his ADP, but if you fail to secure 2 running backs early he could provide you with the upside value you need.
Average Draft Position: 10.01
McKinnon joined San Francisco in 2018, signing a monster 4 year, $30 million deal despite having limited prior success. McKinnon suffered a pre-season ACL tear and did not play a snap for the 49ers in 2018.
Jerrick McKinnon had fantasy football players excited prior to that injury, though. In 2018 his ADP was 3.10, which made him RB19 overall in preseason ADP. McKinnon earned his contract off his performance with the Vikings in 2016 and 2017. In those two seasons, he averaged 154.5 carries for 554.5 rushing yards and 2.5 rushing touchdowns.[the_ad id=”79657″][the_ad id=”79658″]
Average Draft Position: 14.03
Breida, the undrafted free agent out of Georgia Southern, led the 49ers in rushing in 2018. He ran for 814 yards and 3 touchdowns on 153 carries. Breida, though, played much of the 2018 season hurt and had several injury scares throughout the season. With lower draft capital and a contract the fraction of the size of Coleman and McKinnon’s, it is likely that Breida will be the odd man out in this backfield.
#49ers RB Matt Breida:
* Separated shoulder in preseason
* Week 5 high ankle sprain
* Avgd 5.32 yards/carry
* 11th in NFL in carries of 15+ yards
* 27th in NFL in actual carries
* Has 3rd-most yards from scrimmage of any UDFA running back in his first 2 seasons over last decade
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) July 9, 2019
Average Draft Position: 6.12
Pettis was the 49ers 2nd round pick (44th overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite starting just 7 games (played in 12), he finished as the wideout with the 2nd most receiving yards (467) and led the wideout corps. with 5 receiving touchdowns. Pettis proved to be a big-play threat, recording 10.4 yards/target and 17.3 yards/reception; leading the wideouts in both categories.
Pettis appears to have a clear role carved out in the 49ers offense. He projects as the downfield playmaker that should have room to succeed with Samuel, Hurd, Kittle, and the slew of running backs opening up the short field. Pettis has a clear path to be at least a low-end WR2 but is currently being drafted at the 30th wideout off the board, according to fantasy football calculator. Pettis is the clear wideout to have in San Francisco for me.
Average Draft Position: 14.10
Goodwin went into 2018 coming off a great 2017 season-he caught 56 of 105 targets for 962 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He struggled, though, with injury and personal issues in 2018; leading to him playing in just 11 games. His targets dropped to 43 (62 less), and his receptions dropped to just 23 (33 less). His receiving yards plummeted to 395 yards (567 less).
Average Draft Position: N/A
The 49ers drafted Samuel with the 36th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Samuel perfectly fits their west coast offense. He is fast, extremely athletic, and elusive in space-giving him great potential as a yards after catch (YAC) threat. I did a full pre-draft profile on Deebo Samuel, which pegged him as a perfect fit for an offense like the 49ers-you can read that full profile here.
Average Draft Position: N/A
I called Hurd the best player nobody was talking about, prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. San Francisco agreed with me; they shocked many by taking him with the 67th overall pick. Hurd is a dynamic wideout who converted from running back. Hurd (6’5″, 226) has the potential to contribute to Shannahan’s creative offense as a wideout, running back, and Shannahan even suggested he could line-up occasionally as a tight end.
Hurd is a much bigger upside play, but he currently does not register in fantasy football calculator ADP-which means he is not going in the first 14 rounds of fantasy football drafts. If your league has more than 14 rounds, Hurd provides a dynamic upside play. He could be used out of the slot, on the outside, as a running back on the goal line, and as a tight end red zone threat through the passing game. Hurd is also raw as a wideout and could develop quickly into a playmaker.