Five bold predictions for 49ers' 2020 season as training camp nears
Nick Bosa leads NFL with 20 sacks, wins DPOY
Nick Bosa burst onto the scene as a rookie, recording 80 total pressures, 14 more than anyone else as a rookie. He recorded nine sacks.
In fact, Bosa's rookie season was historically great. Of 145 rookie edge defenders in the PFF era who averaged 15 snaps a game, Bosa ranks fourth overall and fourth in pass-rushing grade behind Aldon Smith, Von Miller and Khalil Mack.
That's impressive company.
Bosa has the talent to be the best edge rusher in the NFL, and I expect him to terrorize opposing quarterbacks all season long en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year.
Brandon Aiyuk starts slow, finishes No. 2 in yards for rookies
A lot is going to be placed on Brandon Aiyuk's shoulders early since Deebo Samuel sustained a Jones fracture that could keep him out for three to four months.
Receivers often struggle to smoothly transition from college to the NFL. With a lack of OTAs and minicamp, it's fair to expect Aiyuk to start slow as well. It's not a dig at his talent, but a realistic view of what the start to Aiyuk's season will look like.
But let's get bold: After a slow start, Aiyuk records 100-yard games in six of the 49ers' last seven games, finishing with 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns. Aiyuk finishes second to CeeDee Lamb in receiving yards and ties with Henry Ruggs for the rookie lead in touchdowns.
Inches decide the NFC West again
Once again, the 49ers enter the 2020 NFL season with a much better overall roster than the Seattle Seahawks. Once again, it doesn't matter.
The 49ers lead the Seahawks by two games heading into December, but Seattle rips off four wins in a row while the 49ers drop games at Dallas and at Arizona. That sets up another do-or-die Week 17 game, with both teams entering the Levi's Stadium showdown at 11-4.
The two teams trade scores early on and the 49ers enter the fourth quarter with a 20-17 lead. The Seahawks take the lead on a 17-yard pass from Russell Wilson to D.K. Metcalf with under two minutes to go. A loss would send the 49ers to the wild-card round and a date with the Saints in New Orleans.
Jimmy Garoppolo won't let the 49ers' NFC West hopes die on home turf. On third-and-17 from their own 28, Garoppolo hits Jalen Hurd over the middle. Hurd breaks a Bobby Wagner tackle and scampers 33 yards down to the 39-yard line. Three plays later, with just 18 seconds remaining, Garoppolo throws a dart to Aiyuk. The rookie makes Tre Flowers miss and lunges for the pylon just as Ugo Amadi plows into him.
After a lengthy review, it is determined the ball touched the pylon before Aiyuk landed out of bounds, giving the 49ers a 27-24 lead with three seconds remaining.
Jimmy Garoppolo finishes top three in MVP race
After an offseason spent listening about his shortcomings and the possibility of being replaced, Garoppolo enters the 2020 season ready to silence everyone.
With Samuel missing the first couple of games, Garoppolo has to step up with a struggled receiving corps. He throws for over 325 yards in each of the 49ers' first four games, and never slows down. Only late December hiccups against the Cowboys and Cardinals and a few too many interceptions keep him from taking home the hardware.
He finishes with 4,425 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 70.2 percent of his passes. He finishes third in the MVP voting behind Kyler Murray, who leads the Cardinals to the playoffs and racks up 4500 total yards, and Patrick Mahomes.
49ers knock off Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Lamar en route to Super Bowl title
The 49ers don't get the No. 1 seed or a bye, with the New Orleans Saints earning the distinction.
But after the thrilling win over the Seahawks, there's no stopping the Revenge Tour train. The 49ers pants Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round before winning a shootout against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Then, they travel to an empty Superdome and duel with Drew Brees. A late George Kittle catch-and-run (sound familiar?) sets up the game-winning 5-yard run from Jerick McKinnon to punch a ticket to Tampa Bay.
Awaiting them at Super Bowl LV is Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, who upset Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game.
Nick Bosa and the 49ers defense frustrate Jackson enough to keep the 49ers in the game. The Ravens lead 20-14 entering the fourth quarter. A strip-sack by Dee Ford sets up a Jimmy Garoppolo touchdown pass to Trent Taylor to give the 49ers the lead. Jackson is picked off by Fred Warner with one minute to go, sealing the 49ers' sixth Super Bowl title.
Kittle is named Super Bowl MVP after catching six passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, narrowly edging out Garoppolo who also tossed two interceptions.
A championship earned if there ever was one.