QB Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco)
In 10 starts last year, including playoffs, Kaepernick threw for 2406 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 502 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. Over 16 games, that’s 3850 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 803 rushing yards, and 8 touchdowns. Michael Crabtree is out, but Vernon Davis, who did nothing for him until late in the playoff run last year, should be able to make up for his absence along with veteran Anquan Boldin, 2nd year receiver AJ Jenkins and a pair of rookies Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald. I’m not going to quite project those stats for him because he won’t catch anyone by surprise this year, but he’s still a projected top-5 fantasy quarterback.
Projection: 3600 passing yards 22 touchdowns 9 interceptions 700 rushing yards 7 touchdowns (326 pts standard, 370 pts 6 pt TD leagues)
RB Frank Gore (San Francisco)
For the 3rd straight year, the 49ers have drafted a running back. While Marcus Lattimore might not play a snap this year due to injury, it’s just another reminder that the 49ers feel Gore doesn’t have much left. Heading into his age 30 season, Gore has played all 16 games in each of the last 2 years after doing so just once in his first 6 seasons, but the reason for that is because the 49ers have cut his touches per game in each of the last 2 years, from 22.6 in 2010 to 18.7 in 2011 to 17.9 in 2012. Expect that number to shrink down even more in 2013 with Kendall Hunter returning from injury and LaMichael James getting a bigger role and he’s no lock to play all 16 games.
It’s also worth noting that he’s tired out down the stretch in each of the last 2 seasons. In 2011, he averaged 4.9 YPC in his first 8 games and 3.6 YPC in his last 8 games, while in 2012, he went from 5.5 YPC to 4.0 YPC. He’s also not as big a part of the passing game under Jim Harbaugh as he used to be, catching 45 passes in the last 2 years combined after averaging 51 per year in the previous 5 years. Colin Kaepernick, who rarely checks down, threw to him even less, as he caught just 11 passes in his 10 starts. Gore is a RB2, but one with little upside and a lot of downside considering his age and the amount of competition in the backfield.
Projection: 220 carries for 990 rushing yards 8 total touchdowns 20 catches for 160 yards (163 pts standard, 183 pts PPR)
WR Anquan Boldin (San Francisco)
Anquan Boldin had a great post-season last year and is their #1 wide receiver after the injury to Michael Crabtree, but he’ll probably be overdrafted. He turns 33 in October and while his production has been hanging in the 837-921 yard range over the last 3 seasons, I think it’s unlikely he gets across that 1000 yard threshold this year and he certainly won’t match Michael Crabtree’s 1105 yards. Vernon Davis is a better bet to lead the 49ers in receiving yards.
Projection: 65 catches for 880 receiving yards 6 touchdowns (124 pts standard, 189 pts PPR)
TE Vernon Davis (San Francisco)
Vernon Davis caught just 41 passes for 548 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2012 and was even worse in the 2nd half of the year as he didn’t show any chemistry with new quarterback Colin Kaepernick, catching 16 passes for 174 yards and 1 touchdown in the final 8 games of the regular season. However, that changed in the post-season, as he caught 12 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown in 3 games. With another off-season working with Kaepernick, Davis should continue that kind of production and is the favorite to lead the team in receiving with Michael Crabtree out. He and Boldin are the only veteran receivers they have and Davis is simply more talented, younger, and more familiar with Kaepernick.
Projection: 58 catches for 900 receiving yards 7 touchdowns (132 pts standard, 190 pts PPR)