Just when we thought we'd escaped the preseason without too many awful injuries, Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL in practice on Saturday. , but now that I've had a night to sleep on it it's time to try to project what this 49ers offense will look like without him.
Let's start with this: The Fantasy community is split over whether Matt Breida or Alfred Morris is the back to own, and there's a good reason for that. For one, we have no actual facts to go on. But also, both backs have factors working in their favor. Morris is a bigger back who has a longer history with Kyle Shanahan and is a very good runner in the zone blocking scheme. Breida is more explosive, better in the passing game, and was actually on the team at the start of camp.
The truth is both backs will likely be involved and there won't be a workhorse. Morris should get between 35 and 55 percent of the team's rush attempts and should get more of the short yardage attempts. Breida's share of the rush attempts should be pretty close to the same, but he'll see far more work in the passing game. I prefer Breida more in both formats because I believe he has more talent and a higher ceiling, but it isn't far-fetched at all to think Morris will start Week 1.
The one other player I could see benefitting from this is George Kittle. Breida is better than Morris in the passing game but he isn't as good as McKinnon. It could very well be that those shorter targets get shifted over to the tight ends. Here are my updated expectations for the 49ers in Fantasy:
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Kyle Shanahan is known as one of the best offensive coaches in the league and his brilliance was certainly on display both in Atlanta and in those final five games in San Francisco. There is one number from his history that stands out in a big way, and is contrasted by Garoppolo's five starts. Shanahan's offense relies heavily on involving the running back in the passing game, giving them nearly nine targets per game. That is especially true in 2017, with Carlos Hyde hauling in 49 passes on 73 targets in the first 11 games of the season.
But those targets dried up in the final five games of the season with Garoppolo under center. While he didn't completely avoid throws out of the backfield, he threw to Kyle Juszczyk (20 targets) more than Hyde (15 targets). Overall, 22 percent of Garoppolo's attempts went to running backs or fullbacks. That's down from Shanahan's last three years (24 percent). How the targets are distributed to running backs will go a long way in determining the value of Breida.
- Goodwin's 16-game pace with Garoppolo was 92-1228-3 and the 49ers have not made a significant addition to the passing game (other than the return of Garcon). There's certainly upside above what I'm expecting from Goodwin.
- Dante Pettis is one of the most exciting rookie receivers after this landing spot. Neither Goodwin or Garcon are going to stand in his way if he makes a quick connection with Garoppolo and picks up the playbook quickly. Those are huge ifs, but Pettis has the upside to be the No. 1 receiver on this team and in his class. For now he should be on your radar as a late round sleeper in redraft.
The 49ers spoke very highly of Taylor last season, but the addition of Pettis is probably bad news for him. Longterm I wouldn't expect Garcon to stand in his way, but Taylor is now probably two injuries away from contributing in 2018.
Celek could be a streamable tight end if Kittle's shoulder injury from the preseason resurfaces.