Peter King saw what he considers a playoff team when he visited the 49ers this week in Santa Clara.
The 49ers were the 17th NFL team the NBC Sports football analyst visited since his training camp tour began last month. The 49ers have not made the playoffs since the 2013 season, and King believes that skid will come to an end.
“Unless Jimmy Garoppolo slips on a banana peel, I think this team is going to make the playoffs,” King said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I just think they have a lot of really important weapons on defense up front that can be a good deodorant for kind of some average people behind them.
“I like these guys a lot ... if Garoppolo plays 16 game, they should win 10.”
Garoppolo has taken part in every practice this summer after his season came to an end in Week 3 with a torn ACL in his left knee in Kansas City. In five NFL seasons, though, Garoppolo has started just 10 games. He served the first 3 ½ seasons of his career as Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots.
King said he expects an improved offense with Tevin Coleman at running back. And the one player who stood out to King is a rookie who can assist Garoppolo in the passing game.
“You look around and you come to camps and you say who caught your eye,” King said. “Jalen Hurd is the guy who caught my eye out at this practice.”
Hurd is a 6-foot-4 receiver who played his first three college seasons as a running back at Tennessee before transferring to Baylor to play wide receiver. The 49ers selected Hurd in the third round of the draft. King said he spoke with 49ers assistant Miles Austin, a former NFL wide receiver, who told him about Hurd’s incredible competitiveness.
But it is on the other side of the ball where King expects the 49ers to make their biggest impact with five defensive linemen -- Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa -- who entered the NFL as first-round draft picks.
“I’ve covered the NFL for 35 years, and I do not remember a team addressing one position group to the extent the San Francisco 49ers have addressed the defensive line in the last three, four years,” King said.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s not just first-round draft picks, either. It’s now spending very big on Dee Ford and basically to say, ‘We are going to get guys to come in and play in waves on that defensive line.’”