The play of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers’ season-closing five-game winning streak, and the performance of first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have produced great expectations for 2018.
This week, sports books in Las Vegas posted 20-1 odds for the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl – the same as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. Before last season, the 49ers were given odds of 200-1.
And, former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, who helped that franchise achieve excellence during his career, picked the 49ers as his second-best bet to go from worst-to-first in 2018.
Brandt’s No. 1 pick goes to the Houston Texans, who finished 4-12 in 2017 in the AFC South, but will get quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt back. Brandt also believes the 49ers can make the leap in the NFC West, where they were 6-10 this past season behind the 8-8 Cardinals, 9-7 Seahawks and division-champion 11-5 Rams.
“A word of advice: If you’re ever asked to make a list of cellar-dwellers who could immediately and completely reverse their fortune, start with teams that have great starting quarterbacks,” wrote Brandt for NFL.com. “I just like everything about Jimmy Garoppolo, from his attitude to his accuracy.
“Head coach Kyle Shanahan, meanwhile, is like a young version of his dad, Mike – he and general manager John Lynch have stabilized this organization. The defensive front seven is strong. With a well-assembled scouting department and plenty of projected cap space, the 49ers are poised to fill holes at receiver and on the offensive line. With the Seahawks and Cardinals both likely to move backward in 2018, the NFC West should come down to a fight between the Niners and Rams – and I like San Francisco’s chances.”