Jimmy Garoppolo
Can Jimmy Garoppolo lead the San Francisco 49ers to an NFC West crown in 2018? (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

The San Francisco 49ers are on the up. They should be the favorites to win the NFC West for one sole reason, Jimmy Garoppolo. How can we bet against him at this point considering Garoppolo has never lost as a starting quarterback. Jimmy G is 7-0 as a starter including a 5-0 stretch with the 49ers. San Fran only won 1 game before Jimmy arrived. With Seattle slowly dying and LA loading up this offseason, it will be interesting to see where San Fran stands within the division. What can we expect from the San Francisco 49ers as they open up training camp in 2018?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

1. Right Tackle: Mike McGlinchey, Garry Gilliam

The 49ers used their first round pick on Mike McGlinchey but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to start. Garry Gilliam has plenty of starting experience with the Seahawks and has shown flashes of being a decent starting right tackle. I would expect McGlinchey to be the overwhelming favorite but crazier things have happened.

2. Tight End: George Kittle, Garrett Celek

A lot of people are worried about the receiver position but I’m more worried about what’s going on at tight end. Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin along with Dante Pettis in the slot are more than fine. George Kittle is probably the favorite to start after an ok rookie season. He racked up over 500 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now his production was much better with Garoppolo under center but we’re going to find out if he’s a suitable starter moving forward. Garrett Celek is probably the blocking tight end.

3. Free Safety: Adrian Colbert, Tarvarius Moore

I have no idea why Eric Reid isn’t on this team because he is a stud (well maybe I do). Then again, they moved Reid to linebacker last year and are still in need of a true center fielder for this defense. The 49ers have zero answers for this spot at the moment. 95 percent of NFL fans have no idea who Adrian Colbert is. Tarvarius Moore is a small school guy taken in the third round and likely has to start right away.

Ready To Breakout: Jaquiski Tartt

While the free safety spot is a mess, the strong safety spot is safe and sound with Jaquiski Tartt roaming the patrol. Chip Kelly deserves some credit for drafting him during his lone season in San Fran. Tartt has developed into a top tier box safety. Tartt was ranked as the 15th best safety in the league according to PFF in 2017. Tartt isn’t a guy who is going to take away a bunch of picks but he plays the run extremely well. I’m betting on Tartt taking the leap and becoming a Pro Bowl player.

Rookie To Watch: Dante Pettis

Dante Pettis comes to San Fran as a 2nd round pick from the University of Washington. Pettis is going to be their possession guy who fits well with Marquise Goodwin stretching the field. Pettis is known as a good route runner but isn’t always healthy and struggles with consistency. He caught 15 touchdowns in 2016 compared to just 7 in 2017 for the Huskies. I would expect him to be better than former teammate John Ross who provided nothing his rookie year but there are still questions to be answered just how good Pettis can be moving forward.

NFC West 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Seattle Fails, Arizona Finds Their Savior

Fantasy Sleeper: Jerick McKinnon

If you know me, you know that I love Shanahan running backs. Shanahan has turned the like of Alfred Morris, Steve Slaton, and Tatum Bell into all-world running back talents. Enter Jerick McKinnon who could save your fantasy season if you’re smart enough to draft him. PPR nerds (don’t play PPR or I won’t like you) will also love him because he’s going to catch a lot of balls. McKinnon averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 150 attempts this year. I would be willing to bet almost anything he beats that mark under Shanahan.