According to Football Outsiders, the San Francisco 49ers are only projected to win nine games this upcoming season. Here’s the assessment and explanation they give as the Niners barely muster a .500 record.
Before all NFC West fans flip out here, remember what I said earlier about how stat projections always end up grouped toward 8-8. Obviously, we don’t expect that neither Seattle nor San Francisco will win more than 10 games. But stat projections account for a lot of unexpected possibilities, such as “Uh-oh, Richard Sherman tore his ACL” or “Blaine Gabbert, starting 49ers quarterback.” Plus, these teams are stuck playing six games against each other and another three against AFC West teams that are not Oakland.
Otherwise, there’s not too much unexpected in this forecast. We see the 49ers and Seahawks closer together because the 49ers are probably not going to have to deal with as many injuries as they did a year ago. Arizona probably will see its defense regress a bit, but its offense should be better with free-agent left tackle Jared Veldheer and a healthy Jonathan Cooper. As for St. Louis, as good as the front four will be, you still have to score points to win football games. A big Sam Bradford breakout could finally come in 2014, but it isn’t a high probability.