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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
Dolphins claim wide receiver Cobi Hamilton; waive Kai De La Cruz
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) The Dolphins claimed wide receiver Cobi Hamilton off waivers Saturday, the team announced. Hamilton was recently released by the Bengals. He has never appeared in an NFL game.

To make room for Hamilton, the team waived wide receiver Kai De La Cruz.


Panthers DT Kawann Short dealing with back issue
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short missed Saturday's practice with a back injury, reports The Charlotte Observer. The severity of the injury is not known.

In 2014, Short produced 3 1/2 sacks and 40 tackles in 16 games.


Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall takes day off Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) After participating in the first two days of training camp, the Redskins held cornerback DeAngelo Hall out of Saturday's full-pad practice as a precaution, reports the New York Times.

Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and the plan is for him to practice for two days then take a day off.

"Not being in football in 10 months, I'm going to need some monitoring, as far as reps and things like that, just to make sure I don't kill myself in the first two weeks," Hall said. "You've got a little bit of anxiety — kind of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement — so it felt a little different. But once you get on the field, it's still football. My leg still worked. Still not quite as explosive as I want to be, and they say that's going to take some time, but I feel good."


Report: Chargers DL Tenny Palepoi fractures foot Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:59 pm ET) Chargers defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi suffered a fracture to his foot during Saturday's practice, sources told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Palepoi had to be carted off the field after sustaining the injury. He is expected to need two months to recover from the injury. Palepoi produced 16 tackles in 16 games last season.


Panthers WR Stephen Hill carted off field with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill had to carted off the practice field Saturday after sustaining a right knee injury, reports the Associated Press. Hill spent the 2014 season on the practice squad.

Falcons sign Pierce Burton; release Harland Gunn
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) The Falcons signed one offensive lineman and released another, the team announced Saturday. The team signed offensive lineman Pierce Burton and released guard Harland Gunn.

Cowboys' Tony Romo plans to practice Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) Despite dealing with an eye issue, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to practice Saturday, reports the Star-Telegram. Romo was held out of Friday's practice to receive treatment for a sty in his eye.

"I don't want to get into specifics of what we did, but we don't think it's a major thing, and we do anticipate him practicing [Saturday]," coach Jason Garrett said.


49ers LB NaVorro Bowman anxious to begin practicing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) After passing his conditioning test Friday, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is eager to get back on the practice field Saturday, reports CSNBayArea.com.

Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after a season-ending knee injury in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He is expected to participate in the first training camp practice Saturday and is eager to make his first hit.

"That's probably the only mental thing," Bowman said. "If I deliver the hit I want to deliver, once I do that, I'll be ready."


Report: Jets WR Devin Smith has punctured lung
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) In addition to suffering from broken ribs, Jets wide receiver Devin Smith is also dealing with a punctured lung, sources told NJ.com.

Smith sustained the injuries while after making a catch during Friday's practice. Coach Todd Bowles said Smith would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, according to ESPNNewYork.com.


Bengals' Adam Jones says team has discussed contract extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Bengals cornerback Adam Jones revealed Saturday the team has reached out to his agent to discuss signing him to a contract extension, reports ESPN.com.

"They've contacted my agent," Jones said. "But ain't nothing I can do about the contract right now. I'm not upstairs."

Jones, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Bengals. He registered 63 tackles and three interceptions in 16 games last season. He added that he was not concerned about receiving an extension before the season starts.

"If it happens before the end of camp or after the end of camp, I'll be thankful," Jones said. "But right now, I'm just focusing on competing every day and helping my team win."


 
 
 
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