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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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RB Chris Johnson: I'd fit good in Dallas
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) Running back Chris Johnson is still looking for a place to play next season. After being cut by the Jets at the end of 2014, Johnson believes he could be the answer to what the Cowboys need at running back after letting DeMarco Murray go to Philadelphia and not drafting a running back, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I'd fit good in Dallas," Johnson said to TMZ. "They need it. Yeah. That's what we're trying to do. Cowboys, come holler at me."

Dallas signed Darren McFadden to a two-year deal in the offseason worth up to $5.85 million. Johnson had the worst rushing season in his career in 2014, totaling 663 yards on the ground with one touchdown.


Report: Bears sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford
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(5/5/2015) The Bears have reportedly signed running back Jeremy Langford from Michigan State to a four-year contract, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Langford was drafted by Chicago in the fourth round and was considered the ninth-best running back prospect in the draft class. He rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns in his final season with Michigan State in 2014.


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(5/5/2015) The Chargers have claimed tight end Kyle Miller off waivers from the Falcons and released defensive end Damik Scafe, according to U-T San Diego.

Milller has appeared in one game since entering the league in 2012 without making a catch.


Bears claim OT Paul Cornick off waviers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Bears have claimed offensive tackle Paul Cornick off waivers from the Broncos, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Cornick was waived by Denver Monday after making making six starts and appearing in 12 games for the Broncos in 2014.


John Carlson's surprise retirement leaves Cardinals in a bind at TE
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(5/5/2015) The unexpected retirement of John Carlson has left the Cardinals depleted of experienced tight ends on the roster, reports ESPN.com.

Troy Niklas, last year's second-round pick, and Darren Fells are currently the only tight ends on the team who caught passes in 2014, combining for eight receptions and 109 yards during the regular season.

Carlson caught 33 passes for 350 yards and one touchdown last season.

Dolphins cut ties with Heath, Hocker, Rose
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Dolphins waived defensive back T.J. Heath, kicker Zach Hocker and defensive back Lowell Rose on Tuesday, the team announced.

Heath and Rose were with the team during the 2014 season, while Hocker was signed in the offseason. 


Raiders release Bojay Filimoeatu, Jansen Watson, Justin Jackson
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(5/5/2015) The Raiders have released linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, cornerback Jansen Watson and linebacker Justin Jackson, reports ESPN.

Filimoeatu played in eight games with the Raiders last season, Watson played with the team's practice squad and Jackson played with three other teams in 2014.

Patriots axe CB Alfonzo Dennard, two others
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) As expected, the Patriots have announced the release of cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who exceeded expectations for three years after having been taken in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.

Dennard started 20 of 29 games in which he played and racked up 92 tackles and five interceptions. He also started in four postseason games with two picks. But he played just six games a year ago and lost time to a hamstring injury.

Long snapper Tyler Ott and linebacker Deontae Skinner were also cut loose by the Patriots on Tuesday.


Report: Chiefs release quarterback Terrelle Pryor
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Chiefs have reportedly cut ties with quarterback Terrelle Pryor, according to Pro Football Talk. 

Pryor was signed by Kansas City in January and coach Andy Reid wanted to give him a chance to earn the starting quarterback role.

"We're going to give him an opportunity to play quarterback and see how he does," Reid said. "He’s there lifting everyday and doing his thing. We can’t meet with him but he shows up everyday and does what he can do."

Pryor last started as a quarterback in 2013 with the Raiders, totaling 2,374 yards with seven touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.


Cardinals cut Zach Bauman, Roc Carmichael
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/5/2015) The Cardinals released running back Zach Bauman and cornerback Roc Carmichael on Tuesday, reports Fox Sports Arizona.

Bauman and Carmichael did not appear in any games last season.


 
 
 
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