San Francisco 49ers
|By Shawn Larabee, Monday, September 2, 2013|
QB Colin Kaepernick - Stud (low risk)
After an outstanding rookie campaign and Super Bowl run, Kaepernick's stock is through the roof. The loss of Michael Crabtree hurts somewhat, but is offset a bit by the offseason acquisition of Anquan Boldin. Boldin makes a fantastic target for a player like Kaepernick who may be on the move during his throwing motion. A big, reliable target to pair up with Vernon Davis will make things easier on Kaepernick to adjust to the loss of Michael Crabtree. Though his rushing ability makes him a fantasy darling, Kaepernick will need to find a consistent downfield target and Crabtree fill-in. His style of play is so dynamic that defenses will have to re-think how they game plan the entire 49ers offense. We feel the sky is the limit for Kaepernick this season. Draft him with confidence. Sit back and enjoy the show.
QB Colt McCoy - Low Potential
McCoy was thrown to the wolves his first two NFL seasons in Cleveland and his development as a pro QB may have suffered. Certainly his pride suffered after he was shuffled aside in 2012 to make way for Brandon Weeden. He'll have much better support in San Francisco and, though he's no longer considered starter material, will have the chance to progress under the tutelage of acclaimed quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh.
RB Frank Gore - Solid/Safe Pick
Frank Gore has been remarkably consistent during his eight-year NFL career. Despite concerns about age, injuries and competition in the backfield, he continues to be among the most productive and reliable backs in the league. Gore has recorded 1,200 or more rushing yards in back-to-back seasons and even entering his age 30 season remains one of the safest fantasy RBs on summer draft boards. If he's there sitting for you in the 4th round, go ahead and take him, but don't overpay this season.
RB Kendall Hunter - Gamble (high risk)
Updated (8-26): Three rushes for 13 yards doesn't sound like much; It isn't. But it's how Hunter, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last season, looked physically during his preseason debut that matters. Apparently he looked "sharp" enough to reclaim his backup duties behind Frank Gore. LaMichael James remains in the mix, but Hunter is the handcuff Gore owners should target.
Preview - Hunter is another Achilles tendon victim. He tore his in November and was finally cleared to participate in team drill August 10. If he's healthy by the start of season, he should supplant LaMichael James for second chair RB duties. With an injury so severe, it's a big if.
RB LaMichael James - Bye Week Fill-in
James didn't see the field until Week 14 last season and was a strict change-of-pace back from then on. He'll slide in behind Frank Gore on the depth chart if Kendall Hunter's Achilles hasn't healed by opening day.
WR Anquan Boldin - Quality Backup
Elevated for now to number one receiver status thanks to the injury to Michael Crabtree, Boldin will be looking to turn back the clock with his new team. He looked spry enough in the playoffs last year, matching his season touchdown total in just four games. There will be plenty of questions surrounding the 32-year-old as he adjusts to life in the Bay Area with a new team, new offense and a new QB. The 49ers are likely to pursue a replacement for Crabtree, but Boldin remains a proven asset you shouldn't overlook on draft day.
WR Quinton Patton - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (8-30): Rookie Quinton Patton scored for the second straight preseason game with a 26-yard TD grab and finished with two receptions for 52 yards against the Chargers. In both games, Patton had six receptions for 87 yards - and looked like a legitimate contender for the 49ers receiver spot opposite Anquan Boldin. With Boldin resting, Patton started opposite Marlon Moore, who started throughout the preseason. Those two have moved into possible late round flyer category with Patton nudging in front.
The 128th pick in the 2013 draft, Patton was expected to step in and push A.J. Jenkins for the no. 2 or 3 WR spot but Paton missed most of preseason with a broken finger and Jenkins played himself out of San Francisco. Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore have been battling for Michael Crabtree's vacant position, making it look very much like Patton will begin his NFL career as Anquan Boldin's backup.
WR Marlon Moore - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (8-26): For those needing proof of San Francisco's uncertain WR2 slot, meet Moore. The former Dolphin started his third straight preseason game on Sunday, catching three passes for 32 yards. It is the number of starts that matters more than the grabs because at this point in the preseason, that type of lineup consistency grabs attention. So does the idea that he's a "lock" for the 53-man roster. The three-year veteran played 14 games for Miami last season, finishing with four catches. He now has four in the preseason. Don't go drafting Moore just yet, but considering the other uncertain options, it is conceivable he'll have value at some point this season.
WR Jon Baldwin - Bust (overvalued)
Update: Baldwin was traded to the 49ers in a straight up trade with the Chiefs for second year wide receiver AJ Jenkins. Trash for trash? Maybe. Baldwin could slot right into the WR4 spot in the Niners offense, or he could get cut before the season. Let's see how he adjusts.
Preview: Before his rookie and second season, we looked at Baldwin and thought that maybe this is when it all comes together. Alas, we're still only imagining as the former first round pick has 41 receptions and two scores in 26 games. Baldwin has tremendous size (6-foot-4) and natural ability, but he hasn't been able to put that talent to use in the NFL. Having a high-percentage passer like Alex Smith should help with better throws, but that probably won't be enough. For those thinking this could be Baldwin's year, we should not that taking any NFL starting WR in the final round or two is fine and he might beat out Donnie Avery for the starting job opposite Dwayne Bowe. However, he shouldn't beat out more worthy fantasy options for a spot on your roster.
WR A.J. Jenkins - Gamble (high risk)
The underperforming 2012 first-rounder was shipped off to Kansas City during preseason. Maybe a change of scenery will kickstart his floundering pro career.
WR Michael Crabtree - Dynasty Only
A freshly minted superstar, Crabtree was pushing to be one of the first wide receivers off the board in fantasy drafts this summer, but will now miss most or all of 2013 after tearing his Achilles tendon during OTA's. Score one for the holdouts. Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles last season and was back on the field just five months after surgery -- a remarkable recovery from an injury that can sometimes be career ending. Best to temper your expectations with Crabtree and plan instead for his return in 2014.
WR Mario Manningham - Not Draft Worthy
Still recovering from ACL and PCL surgery, Manningham is a long shot to make an impact this season. He's likely to begin the year on the PUP list; even if he doesn't, he'll still take time to get back to full speed. Manningham scored only one touchdown through 12 games with the 49ers last season and never recorded more than five catches or 72 yards in a contest.
Update 9/1: Mario Manningham has been released from the team.
TE Vernon Davis - Stud (low risk)
Vernon Davis finished a rough season on a high note, totalling 11 catches and 210 yards during the conference finals and Super Bowl. Prior to that he had endured an atrocious seven game stretch during which he caught only seven passes while being held scoreless. Davis stands to benefit from Michael Crabtree's absence, but will need to build on that playoff chemistry with Colin Kaepernick and show better consistency if he's to justify his ADP (6th among tight ends as of May).
TE Vance McDonald - Deep-league Only
San Francisco brass liked McDonald so much they traded up to draft him. A big, athletic player with some bocking skill, McDonald could figure prominently in the 49ers' offense. Last season SF ran with two-TE sets on more than 57 per cent of their plays, so there may be opportunities for the rookie, notwithstanding the presence of Vernon Davis.
PK Phil Dawson - Solid/Safe Pick
Despite playing through a pelvic injury that contributed to his career-low 69 per cent conversion rate, David Akers averaged 8.2 points per game last season for the 49ers -- good enough for 9th in league scoring. By contrast, Dawson hit on 93.5 per cent of his kicks, but was limited by Cleveland's general offensive woes. He'll welcome the change in scenery and should be an adequate replacement for Akers.
San Fran Defense - Stud (low risk)
Top five last year in scoring, passing, rushing and total yards per game, San Francisco returns a mostly in tact starting defensive squad for 2013. The only major change is at strong safety where Rookie first-rounder Eric Reid will replace All-Pro Dashon Goldson, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.