2017 San Francisco 49ers Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
We conclude our 32 NFL team-by-team road previews for the coming season with perhaps the NFL's least-talented team - at least west of the New York Jets - in the San Francisco 49ers.
It's still baffling to me how ownership allowed former general manager Trent Baalke to run this storied franchise into the ground. Just four years ago, the 49ers had one of the NFL's most-talented rosters, were 12-4 and reached a third straight NFC Championship Game. However, things weren't great behind the scenes as there was an apparent power struggle between head coach Jim Harbaugh and Baalke. Harbaugh lasted one more year before he was cut loose to go work wonders at the University of Michigan.
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Baalke's hand-picked replacement, Jim Tomsula, bombed in his one season as the Niners went 5-11. I liked the hiring of Chip Kelly to replace Tomsula for last season, but a coach is only as good as his players. The 49ers truly had no good ones of note and slipped to 2-14. Finally, ownership woke up and fired both Baalke and Kelly. It had to be done.
The Niners hired Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach, and that was widely lauded around the NFL. The team basically gave Shanahan personnel power, which usually isn't a good thing for a coach to have. But to bring a sense of checks and balances, the franchise shocked everyone by hiring former Pro Bowl safety John Lynch out of the broadcast booth as the GM (but Shanahan still has personnel power). The team gave him a matching six-year deal to Shanahan's.
I'm all for deviating from the norm, and the future Hall of Famer Lynch is a very smart guy and graduate of Stanford. Lynch personally called Shanahan and volunteered for the job. A very interesting choice, to say the least. So far, though, Lynch and Shanahan have gotten an A grade when it comes to what they did at the draft, especially fleecing the Bears when Chicago moved up just one spot to No. 2 overall. San Francisco has no illusions of being competitive this year but could earn the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 and land its franchise quarterback - or sign Kirk Cousins when he likely hits free agency. Cousins and Shanahan are tight from when Shanahan was Cousins' OC in Washington.
The 49ers were 1-7 on the road last season, 3-5 against the spread and 6-2 "over/under." They travel to just two playoff teams in 2017: Seattle and Houston. Likely only one chance of a winter weather game but plenty of 1 p.m. ET starts. I project a 0-8 record. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 17 at Seahawks ( -13): Niners off their home opener vs. Carolina. This starts a run of three straight division games. San Francisco has lost six straight at Seattle. It was 37-18 in Week 3 last year. Carlos Hyde two TD runs in the fourth quarter, but the 49ers had just five first downs entering the fourth and missed on their first 10 third-down attempts. Key betting trend: It's only the third time the Niners have been at least a 13-point road dog in series. They are 0-2 SU & ATS.
Oct. 1 at Cardinals (-9): San Francisco will be on extra rest after hosting the Rams on Thursday in Week 3. It lost 23-20 in Arizona in Week 10 a season ago -- one of the Niners' few losses by less than a touchdown. The Cards won on a field goal as time expired. Colin Kaepernick (remember him?) completed 17 of 30 passes for 210 yards and ran 10 times for 55 yards. Key betting trend: Niners 7-1 ATS as a road dog in series.
Oct. 8 at Colts (-9): One of two dome games on the schedule. Will the Niners stay somewhere in the Midwest after this game ahead of the Week 6 trip to Washington? This is proof that sometimes how good a guy was in college means nothing in the NFL. 49ers backup QB Matt Barkley was just as good if not better (for one season) than Andrew Luck in college was but obviously they aren't in the same universe as professionals. Key betting trend: Niners 3-1-1 ATS at AFC South teams.
Oct. 15 at Redskins (-8): This will be a lot of attention because of the Cousins/Shanahan connection. It's not impossible that the Redskins decide to trade Cousins to San Francisco before the season starts - or during it, I suppose, if Washington starts slow - rather than risk losing him for nothing. The Niners have won the past four in the series (last 2014). Key betting trend: Niners 5-3 ATS at Redskins.
Oct. 29 at Eagles (-7.5): 49ers come in off a Week 7 matchup vs. Dallas. It's San Francisco's only road game in a stretch of six weeks. The Niners have won the past two in the series by a combined six points (last 2014). Key betting trend: Niners have covered six straight at NFC East teams.
Dec. 3 at Bears (-4): This figures to be wintry conditions. San Francisco off a three-game homestand that also includes a bye week in there. The Niners' top two quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Barkley, both played for the Bears last year. The 49ers lost 26-6 in Chicago in Week 13 a season ago. They set a franchise record low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert. Key betting trend: Niners 3-5-2 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of 4 points or fewer.
Dec. 10 at Texans (-9): Second dome game. Hoyer started for Houston (when healthy) in 2015. Shanahan was the Texans' OC from 2008-09. Only the fourth meeting between the teams, with San Francisco leading 2-1. Key NFL betting trend: Niners 0-5 SU & ATS in past 10 December road games as a dog of at least 9 points.
Dec. 31 at Rams (TBA): San Francisco hosts Jacksonville the previous Sunday. This game could be for last place in the NFC West and the last-place schedule that comes with it in 2018. I'm already predicting a total on this one in the 30s. As usual, though, no Week 17 spread. The 49ers have won their past three matchups against the Rams. It was 22-21 in L.A. on Christmas Eve last year - that arguably cost the Niners the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. Key NFL betting trend: Niners 5-5 ATS in past 10 at Rams.
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