The 49ers won just four games in 2018, but there are reasons for optimism in 2019.
The Niners have a young quarterback they love, several first-round draft picks on the defensive line, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, plenty of room under the salary cap and a head coach in Kyle Shanahan who has a track record of building strong offenses.
So, even though the 49ers stumbled badly this past season, oddsmakers around the country are giving San Francisco some decent odds of getting into the playoffs – and winning a Super Bowl – much better than your average 4-12 football team.
As Kirk Larrabee of 247 Sports wrote this week, the 49ers have been listed as anywhere from 30-1 to 50-1 picks in sports books’ first Super Bowl 54 odds, ahead of such teams as the Panthers, Titans, Broncos and Browns, as well as the Cardinals, Jets, Raiders and Bills.
“There’s obviously a good amount of optimism that the 49ers should be able to improve significantly in 2019,” wrote Larrabee. “A healthy roster will go a long way in making that happen, but the team also has a good amount of assets to spend on improvement …. 49ers general manager John Lynch said during the team’s year-end press conference that he thinks the team is in a better spot than they were a year ago, despite how things went in 2018.”
It’s possible that oddsmakers will like the 49ers’ odds even better as the offseason moves along, if returning quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and No. 1 running back Jerick McKinnon look healthy. What if the 49ers add an edge rusher such as Ohio State’s Nick Bosa with the second overall pick, and veteran free agents such as safety Earl Thomas, a fast, field-stretching wide receiver (Antonio Brown?) and a linebacker to pair with young Fred Warner?
Suddenly, the 49ers could start to look like a dark-horse contender in the NFC West.