The San Francisco 49ers were on the cusp of greatness, after one of the most surprising seasons ever. The 49ers went 13-3 and made the Super Bowl where they faced the Kansas City Chiefs. They had a lead all the way until the fourth quarter, where the Chiefs led one last championship push and won the game. But all was not lost for the 49ers, for the first time since the Jim Harbaugh era, the Niners have a concrete identity. Their identity is to run the ball, play great defense, and keep the ball for the majority of the game. If they want to have success this year, they have to play bully ball like last year. Moving onto this year, it’s time to predict the team’s awards.
Make sure to check out all of our other team award predictions here.
MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy G is the obvious choice for team MVP. This team will ride or die by how good he is this year. This year has all the signs of a breakout year for him, this is his fourth year in the system, and his second full season. He’s got all the weapons he had last year or the equivalent to those weapons. This year will be his first Pro-Bowl season, as he finally is able to fully target healthy receivers, with everyone being healthy going into the season. People will fully see his potential this year, and all this criticism of him being a game manager will go away with it. This is his year.
Offensive Player: Deebo Samuel
Last year Samuel was one of the most diverse receivers in the league, he had the most yards after catch by a rookie since 2006. He rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, Samuel broke his foot but he should be ready for the start of the season though. With Emmanuel Sanders gone to New Orleans, Deebo should be getting a few more targets. I expect a massive breakout season from him and to have well over 1000 receiving yards this season.
Defensive Player: Nick Bosa
Bosa will make or break this team defensively. If he struggles with a sophomore slump, the Niners defense will also struggle. He provides the Niners defense with someone who not only is going to get to the quarterback but someone who will command a double team. I expect Bosa to be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation if he lives up to the expectations this year.
Offensive Rookie: Brandon Aiyuk
Aiyuk was taken in the first round with the 25th pick. He was picked to fill the hole that Sanders made with his departure. Aiyuk is a receiver with long arms, a large catch radius, and is a yards after the catch machine. He’ll be an excellent player to dump the ball off to and let him work his magic. He is very similar to Samuel that way. Aiyuk isn’t a one-trick pony either. He’s capable of catching the home run passes too. He should provide the Niners a much needed threat on offense with the absence of Sanders.
Defensive Rookie: Javon Kinlaw
Kinlaw was taken with the 49ers’ first pick at 14th overall. The 49ers got this pick by trading DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts and now Kinlaw gets to fill his shoes. Kinlaw should have no problem filling that role as thanks to the talent on the defensive line, he will rarely be double teamed. Without being double teamed, Kinlaw should put up similar numbers that Buckner did last season. It might take Kinlaw a little while to adjust to the NFL game, but I expect him to find his niche by midseason.
Biggest Surprise: Ronald Blair
Blair last year recorded three sacks in the limited reps he got. This year I expect him to get a little more playing time after what he showed in limited reps last season. He’s not going to be a game breaker, but people will be surprised at the things he will do this year. The 49ers’ defensive line gets a lot of attention due to their big name stars, but the second unit talent is very underrated.
Biggest Disappointment: Richard Sherman
This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but as Sherman gets older, and with him becoming slower, he could be exposed this year. It already started last year in the Super Bowl by the Chiefs’ speedy wide receivers. He also had trouble hanging with more physical receivers last year. This team doesn’t have a lot of potential disappointments, to be honest.
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