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Offseason Primers: San Francisco 49ers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The 49ers fell three points short in Super Bowl XLVII last year in a 34-31 loss against the Ravens. And now San Francisco will try to become the first Super Bowl loser to make it back to the big game the following year since Buffalo did it four years in a row from 1991-94.

The 49ers will have plenty of weapons to make another Super Bowl run. Colin Kaepernick, who took over for Alex Smith midway through the season last year, will start from Week 1, and he has the potential to be a Fantasy stud. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis -- all starting Fantasy options -- return to lead the offense, and the 49ers replaced Randy Moss with Anquan Boldin, which is an upgrade.

2012 Touches Leaders
781 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Frank Gore 286 (258 car., 28 rec.) 36.6%
Michael Crabtree 86 (1 car., 85 rec.) 11.0%
Kendall Hunter 81 (72 car., 9 rec.) 10.3%
Mario Manningham 45 (3 car., 42 rec.) 5.7%
Vernon Davis 41 rec. 5.2%
All Others 242 30.9%

The defense is again stacked even with the loss of safety Dashon Goldson as a free agent to Tampa Bay, and the inconsistent David Akers was replaced by Phil Dawson. The 49ers also have 14 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, so there's a lot to like about this team.

Fantasy owners will look at Kaepernick, Gore and Crabtree as must-start options, and Davis should rebound to be a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. Boldin is a key reserve, but he'll be an upgrade over Moss based on his all-around receiving skills. The 49ers also could get a boost if Mario Manningham (knee) returns at 100 percent or A.J. Jenkins steps up in his second year. And we may even get some production from backup running backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, depending on how much the 49ers want to rest Gore during the season.

Michael Crabtree -- Worth the price

2012 Target Leaders
436 pass attempts
Michael Crabtree 127 29.1%
Vernon Davis 61 13.9%
Mario Manningham 57 13.0%
Randy Moss 50 11.4%
Delanie Walker 39 8.9%
All Others 102 23.3%

Kaepernick being named the starting quarterback for the 49ers helped Crabtree become a star last year, and we expect him to play well again this season. In the seven starts Kaepernick made in 2012, Crabtree had 41 catches for 595 yards and five touchdowns. If you project that over 16 games, Crabtree would have finished with 94 catches for 1,360 yards and 11 touchdowns. That equates to 202 Fantasy points, which would have made Crabtree the No. 3 Fantasy receiver last year in standard leagues behind Calvin Johnson (214) and Brandon Marshall (210). Crabtree also had double digits in targets in four of the seven starts with Kaepernick. Crabtree enters this season as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy receiver. He's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues, and we look forward to his rapport continuing to grow with Kaepernick as the two spend more time together.

Vernon Davis -- Bounce-back candidate

Will the real Vernon Davis please stand up? Davis was a huge disappointment in 2012 based on his regular-season stats, but he was a star in the playoffs. Davis finished the regular season with 41 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns. It was easily his worst stats since 2008, the year before his breakout campaign. Davis struggled to develop a rapport with Kaepernick -- until the postseason, when Davis took off. In his final two postseason games he had 11 catches for 210 yards and one touchdown against the Falcons and Ravens. We hope he can build off that performance coming into this season, and Davis is too talented to overlook as anything but a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. He has a lot to prove based on last year's down stats, but he's definitely capable of being a standout option. And maybe with Delanie Walker now gone, Davis could get more attention as those 39 targets Walker had last year have to go somewhere. Plan on drafting Davis with a pick in Round 7 or 8.

Colin Kaepernick -- Breakout

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Colin Kaepernick 57-63 overall
Frank Gore 23-30 overall
LaMichael James 115-122 overall
Kendall Hunter 128-134 overall
Michael Crabtree 37-44 overall
Anquan Boldin 127-133 overall
Mario Manningham Undrafted
Vernon Davis 90-99 overall

Kaepernick gets the chance to start for the 49ers from Week 1 this year, and there's a lot of optimism for his Fantasy value this season based on his play in 2012 when he took over for Smith. He had five games with at least 18 Fantasy points in seven starts in the regular season, and he carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl with two standout playoff games. If you project Kaepernick's regular-season stats over a full 16-game season he would have finished with 4,146 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions and 948 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and seven fumbles. That equates to 435 Fantasy points, which would have made him the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues, ahead of Drew Brees (423 points). Kaepernick is a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback and a breakout candidate, and we like him with a pick beginning in Round 6 in the majority of leagues. Since he's unproven, you'll still want to pair him with a quality backup option later (think anyone from Eli Manning to Jay Cutler), but Kaepernick has the look of a standout Fantasy quarterback heading into this season.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Mychal Kendricks hobbles off
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:53 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks hobbled off the field in the third quarter of Monday's game at Indy with an ankle injury. At the time, Kendricks was tied for the team lead with seven tackles. He had one tackle for loss and a pass defensed.

Arthur Jones has high ankle sprain
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Colts defensive end Arthur Jones suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of Monday's game against the Eagles, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Arthur Jones taken for X-rays
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:39 pm ET) Colts defensive end Arthur Jones was carted off the field with an ankle injury in the second quarter against the Eagles. He was taken for X-rays, with his return called questionable.

Julio Jones expected to practice fully Tuesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:34 pm ET) Falcons receiver Julio Jones (ankle) was limited in practice Monday but is expected to practice in full Tuesday, reports the team's website. Atlanta hosts the Buccaneers on Thursday.

Roddy White held out of practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:31 pm ET) Falcons receiver Roddy White did not practice Monday due to a hamstring injury, reports the team's website. Atlanta has a short week to prepare for Thursday's home game against the Buccaneers.

Adrian Peterson's attorney: Latest allegation 'simply not true'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:25 pm ET) Adrian Peterson's attorney said the latest allegation about the Vikings running back, that he was involved in a second child abuse investigation, "is simply not true."

"The allegation is more than one year old and authorities took no action," said the lawyer, Rusty Hardin. "An adult witness admittedly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son."

In the 2013 incident, a 4-year-old son of Peterson's had a scar on his forehead after Peterson acknowledged disciplining him, according to KHOU in Houston. How the injury happened was never made clear, and authorities did not bring charges.


Carson Palmer not any better Monday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:09 pm ET) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who missed the Week 2 win at the Giants with a bruised nerve in his throwing shoulder, showed no improvement Monday, according to the team's website.

"Hopefully any minute it starts working," Palmer said. "We'll see."

If healthy, Palmer will start Week 3 against the 49ers, even if he is unable to practice all week. Drew Stanton will make his second straight start if Palmer can't play. There is no timetable for Palmer's return.

"We're doing every kind of research we possibly can," coach Bruce Arians said about Palmer's injury. "He's getting every kind of treatment known to man. He's got more needles sticking in him half the day than most of us in our lifetime."


Bears add two players
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:56 pm ET) The Bears re-signed fullback Tony Fiammetta to the 53-man roster and added rookie quarterback David Fales to the practice squad, reports ESPN.com.

Jake Matthews expects to play Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:25 pm ET) Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews, who sat out Week 2 with an ankle injury, said he expects to play Thursday against the Buccaneers, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Matthews was listed as a limited participant in Monday's practice.

49ers make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:18 pm ET) The 49ers signed tight end Xavier Grimble and cornerback Leon McFadden to the practice squad and released corner Chance Casey and linebacker Shayne Skov from the squad.

 
 
 
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