The 49ers’ starting quarterback job has not yet been completely
determined, but most team experts seem to believe that it’ll
be free agency acquisition Brian Hoyer who takes snaps for the team
in Week 1. Hoyer is new to San Francisco but actually has more knowledge
of the Kyle Shanahan offense than other players on the roster as
he spent a year with Shanahan on the Browns in 2014. Hoyer is coming
off of a shortened 2016 season where he threw for 300-plus yards
in all four of his starts before breaking his non-throwing arm.
Hoyer also avoided throwing an interception despite the team going
1-5 during that span.
While he should be an upgrade from what the 49ers had in 2016, Hoyer
is not a draftable asset himself in most formats, especially given
that he hasn’t locked up the starting role and likely won’t
make it all the way through the season as the starter if the team
has poor results. He’ll have some weeks where he does perform
well, which does make him a potential bye week replacement-type
player, but there’s a good chance that he’ll struggle
to produce fantasy starting-caliber numbers in most weeks.
Carlos Hyde: A new coach, offensive system
and injury concerns are giving fantasy owners pause.
Now entering his fourth season as a pro, it’s put up or shut
up time for former second-round NFL Draft pick Carlos Hyde. Hyde
has struggled with injuries throughout his career and has never
played a full 16-game slate, including 2016 when he suffered both
MCL and shoulder injuries which caused him to miss time. The introduction
of a Kyle Shanahan offense may look good at first glance but Hyde
doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the backs who have been successful
in this offense in the past. He’s more of a bruiser and volume
back whereas Shanahan has recently seen success with players who
have more of an ability to get to the outside and break off big
Hyde did rush for just under 1,000 yards a season ago, but he did
so with only two 100-yard games and he did not score a single rushing
touchdown after Week 5. Hyde’s three receiving touchdown passes
from Weeks 12 to 17 would indicate that maybe he is becoming a more
significant piece to the passing game, but he caught just 27 passes
in 13 games. Hyde’s value is higher in standard scoring formats
Hightower will likely end up being the team’s third-down back.
competition will come in the form of Joe Williams who is gaining
in popularity among the fantasy community , but the new coaching
regime did draft Joe Williams in the 4th Round… it’s more likely
Williams could end up getting opportunities late in the season if
the 49ers are not succeeding with Hyde. Hyde is still easily the
top fantasy option in this offense, but that’s not saying a whole
lot as the 49ers might be the league’s worst fantasy offense this
It’s still early so the hype train hasn’t yet left the
station, but rumblings about Joe Williams are starting to get louder
as we head into his rookie season. Williams flashed tremendous speed
and big play ability in college which will delight many fantasy
owners who are bored of what we’ve seen in recent years with
the San Francisco offense. His size and speed combination would
seem to indicate that he’d be a late-down back, but what we’ve
seen from him on the field has been quite the opposite. Williams
is not a good, or even a decent pass protector at this point which
will certainly hurt his potential to be on the field on obvious
passing downs. Not only that, but he doesn’t catch passes
particularly well. In fact, Williams caught just nine total passes
in his senior season at Utah and dropped a whopping five of the
30 total passes that went his way throughout his college career.
Unless he completely transforms from the type of player he was in
college, Williams’ road to playing time will likely have to
come in early down relief of the team’s starter, Carlos Hyde.
Hyde does have an injury history that could give fantasy owners
some hope, but the likelihood is very low that Williams touches
the ball a significant number of times in a game where Hyde is healthy.
Williams does have some long-term upside in dynasty leagues due
to Hyde being in a contract year, but he’ll need to make the
most of the few touches he does get in order to be seriously considered
as the long-term answer for the team at running back.
Newly acquired wide receiver Pierre Garcon tops the list of acquisitions
for the 49ers heading into the 2017 season. Statistically one of
the three most sure-handed receivers in the league from 2016, Garcon
reunites with head coach Kyle Shanahan who was the Redskins’
offensive coordinator when Garcon led the team in receiving yards
in 2013. Garcon has never been a big time red zone threat, but the
49ers just don’t have many better options. Garcon is going
from two teams (Indianapolis and Washington) with a plethora of
red zone threats to a team where he might be the only receiver who
will score five or more touchdowns this season.
The name Brian Hoyer doesn’t scream confidence for fantasy
production, but Hoyer has actually utilized his top receivers quite
well in the past, particularly when he was with DeAndre Hopkins
in Houston. Hopkins is certainly more skilled than Garcon at this
point in his career, but Hopkins’ disastrous 2016 season proved
that Hoyer isn’t just some terrible QB who happened to get
lucky by having Hopkins to throw to. Unfortunately Garcon is going
from a high-powered passing game in Washington to a team that does
not have many offensive weapons, which will almost certainly mean
that opposing teams will key in on him on passing downs. Look for
a slight uptick in red zone production, but a lower yards-per-reception
which should translate to Garcon having a fairly similar season
- at least points-wise - to what he had in Washington in 2016.
A seemingly forgotten man heading into the 2017 season, Jeremy Kerley
will once again be back in the mix after leading the 49ers with
64 receptions for 667 yards in 2016 while scoring three touchdowns.
Kerley benefited from having ton of targets (115), but was not particularly
efficient with them. Kerley was the only wide receiver in the league
who was targeted 100 or more times that did not break 700 yards.
It’s true that bad quarterback play had a lot to do with that,
but while Hoyer is certainly an upgrade from what the 49ers had
a season ago, we’re not talking about a monumental leap in
skill at the QB position.
Kerley will likely take a bit of a backseat in the passing game
to off-season acquisition Pierre Garcon who is more built to be
a WR1. Kerley could also have some competition for snaps out of
the slot as rookie Trent Taylor, the team’s 5th round draft
pick, projects almost exclusively as a slot option. Still, the team
opted to re-sign Kerley to a three-year deal, so they’re not
ready to move on from him yet. He should finish second at worst
in targets on the roster, which makes him a player to consider drafting
in deep PPR formats.
San Francisco tight end Vance McDonald set career highs in both
receiving yards (391) and touchdowns (three) in 2016, but there’s
simply not a lot to love at the tight end position for the 49ers
this season. McDonald is not a great route runner or pass catcher
and tight ends in Shanahan offenses have not been volume options
in the past. Even players like Jordan Cameron only scored two touchdowns
in Shanahan’s 2014 Browns offense.
There just isn’t much upside here at all for McDonald. Not
only was he was the subject of trade rumors earlier this off-season,
which would seem to indicate that the 49ers are not particularly
interested in keeping him, but there are even rumors that he might
still not make the team’s final roster. Other options include
Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and rookie Greg Kittle who is far from
a polished pass catcher. None of these players offer much fantasy
value even if McDonald does not end up making the team.