10 quick-hit 49ers predictions ahead of 2023 NFL season

Our first prediction for the 49ers in 2023 is probably the most important.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

No one can accurately predict the future, but Niner Noise nevertheless attempts to do so with the 49ers for 2023.

The San Francisco 49ers have lofty expectations entering the 2023 season.

After appearing in back-to-back NFC Championship games but ultimately falling short of reaching the Super Bowl, the hope for head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad is to finally get beyond that hurdle and wind up squaring off against an AFC champion in Las Vegas during the month of February.

Considering the additional stockpiling the Niners have done this offseason, anything less than that would be a disappointment and an underachievement.

It might be a bold prediction to say San Francisco does win a Super Bowl this season, finally. Yet that's the expectation, right?

So, with that as a starting point, let's kick off our list of 10 quick-take predictions for the 49ers, leading off with a Super Bowl victory and then working our way backwards on how the Niners ended up getting there.

10 quick predictions for 49ers entering 2023 NFL season

No. 1: 49ers beat Bengals in Super Bowl LVIII

San Francisco has already defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl twice over its history, so a third time would be a great charm. That elite defense versus quarterback Joe Burrow and an elite offense.

While four NFL.com experts predicted the 49ers would win Super Bowl LVIII this season, none had them doing it over Cincy.

We'll take that prediction, thanks.

No. 2: 49ers enact vengeance vs. Eagles in NFC Championship

There's a nice little rivalry brewing up between the Niners and the team that beat them in the NFC Championship last January, the Philadelphia Eagles. Perhaps that rivalry takes over for what has historically been great rivalries between San Francisco and the Green Bay Packers or the Dallas Cowboys.

In this go-around, quarterback Brock Purdy doesn't get hurt, and the 49ers embarrass Philly in utter domination.

No. 3: Niners finish with No. 1 seed in NFC playoff picture

Beating the Eagles might be something the Niners want to do within the confines of Levi's Stadium, and the best way to do that in an NFC Championship is to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That's achieved by securing the top seed in the playoffs, something that aided San Francisco after the 2019 regular season during the run up to that Super Bowl.

Luckily, the NFC is the far weaker of the two conferences with only Philadelphia, Dallas and possibly the Seattle Seahawks or Detroit Lions as real threats.

No. 4: San Francisco goes 12-5 during regular season to secure top seed

While their strength of schedule is very much middle of the pack, the 49ers do have a seriously challenging 2023 slate of games.

In this prediction, both the Niners and Eagles finish with a conference-best 12 wins, but San Francisco secures the head-to-head matchup in Philly in Week 13, subsequently landing the tiebreaker.

No. 5: Christian McCaffrey leads NFL in all-purpose yards

All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey is one of only three players in league history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, the other two being 49ers legend Roger Craig and Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

While McCaffrey doesn't hit that 1,000/1,000 mark this season, he does prove to be the biggest yard-getter in the entire NFL this season by securing 2,000-plus yards, the majority of which come on the ground.

It's not insane to think so. Last year, split between the Niners and Carolina Panthers, McCaffrey had 1,880 total yards.

No. 6: 49ers engineer a blockbuster deal at NFL trade deadline

McCaffrey was acquired last year at the NFL trade deadline, and he ultimately reinvigorated the offense after his arrival.

This go-around, San Francisco's defense might need a bit of help. Considering the 49ers should treat 2023 as a win-it-all kind of season, being aggressive at the NFL trade deadline might be the smartest ploy possible.

As for a trade target? Probably a cornerback or an edge rusher.

No. 7: Isaiah Oliver is 49ers' biggest defensive weakness

With $2.9 million in guaranteed money, nickel cornerback Isaiah Oliver ensured he would make the Niners' 53-man roster despite being a massive liability during the preseason and in light of even Shanahan subtly calling him out.

This winds up being an issue that plagues defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for much of the year, perhaps prompting San Francisco to engineer that midseason trade that takes pressure off Oliver.

Even if he loses his starting job as a result.

No. 8: George Kittle misses 4 regular-season games

Tight end George Kittle is one of the 49ers' most important players when it comes to all-around talent and impact.

But he's also injury-prone.

Already dealing with a lingering hamstring issue, Kittle once again fails to appear in a full 17-game slate and ends up missing four regular-season contests because of various setbacks.

No. 9: Arik Armstead gets double-digit sacks again

In the wake of All-Pro edge Nick Bosa finally signing his lucrative contract extension that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history, combined with the Niners adding defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, veteran defensive lineman Arik Armstead is essentially the third-best option on that D-line for San Francisco.

And one who'll likely see the most one-on-one matchups during games this season.

Armstead recorded a career-best 10 sacks during Bosa's rookie year in 2019, and the longest-tenured 49ers player telegraphs Bosa's ascent and Hargrave's arrival into another 10-sack effort.

No. 10: Brandon Aiyuk is 49ers' leading receiver (again)

Despite weapons like Kittle and Deebo Samuel, it was actually wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk who led the 49ers in receiving last season with his first 1,000-yard campaign, netting 1,015 yards in total.

Heading into year four of his pro career and looking at a well-deserved contract extension, Aiyuk is already motivated to put up big numbers in 2023. And while both Kittle and Samuel could theoretically threaten for the Niners' top receiving job, Aiyuk seems poised to be the team leader in this category again based on all present factors, such as Kittle's injury history and Samuel being more of a dual-threat weapon.

Perhaps Aiyuk truly does "take off."

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