5 areas in which the San Francisco 49ers may regress in 2018

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 10: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans catches a pass for a touchdown defended by Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 10: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans catches a pass for a touchdown defended by Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

No. 2: Offensive Passing Yards Allowed

Speaking of passing yards, San Francisco allowed a net total of 3,764 of these in 2017 — an average of 235.25 per game — 22nd best in the NFL.

OK, so why should we expect a regression here? After all, the Niners parted ways with cornerback Dontae Johnson and replaced him with three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman, right?

Yes, and fellow corner Ahkello Witherspoon is on the ascent. But there’s not much outside depth behind these two. That could be problematic, particularly if injuries are an issue. But let’s dive into a deeper factor here — one that actually suggests the 49ers are in better shape this season than they were a year ago at this time.

This possible regression is largely due to how much “hand in glove” the NFL is.

Forgetting any concerns about Jimmy Garoppolo’s deep ball, we should still expect San Francisco’s offense to be notably more potent than it was over the first two-thirds of 2017.

In turn, there’s a good chance opponents will be trying to catch up to the 49ers’ offensive attack over the course of games. That means less of other teams’ running games and much more by the way of the pass.

You know, trying to catch up quickly.

If San Francisco boasted an elite defense, particularly in the secondary, it wouldn’t be a major worry at all. Heck, the number might even improve in 2018. But the personnel isn’t quite there yet, especially up front where it’ll matter most.