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49ers Head Into Dead Period With Positive Outlook On Defense



Remember that oddsmakers set numbers not to project what they think will happen but where the action will be as evenly bet on both sides as possible. …

In a perfect world for a sportsbook, the wager on any bet is 50/50 as then the book is guaranteed to come out ahead simply on the vig charged for making the bet.

So when I tell you that the San Francisco 49ers are currently favored for just one game in 2017, that doesn’t mean the books believe the 49ers will go 1-15. Their total is set at 4.5 wins at BetOnline, with the over slightly favored. Considering more NFL prop bets? Check out a BetOnline review, one of just a handful of A-plus rated sportsbooks. Last year, the 49ers were given a win total of 5.5 entering the season so the books were well off.

The one game where San Francisco is favored for now is the Thursday night home matchup vs. the Rams in Week 3, with the Niners at -1.5. Of course, the 49ers’ only two wins last year were against the NFC West rival and offensively inept Rams. It’s possible that San Francisco also could be favored in Week 13 in Chicago, Week 16 vs. Jacksonville and Week 17 at the Rams.

The 49ers wrapped up their offseason workouts this week and the players won’t officially reconvene until training camp, although guys often work out together on their own during the summer. New starting quarterback Brian Hoyer said he plans to get together with some of his receivers for throwing sessions during the next month. Hoyer spent the 2014 season with the Browns when new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was Cleveland's offensive coordinator. Hoyer had a strong start to the 2014 season with the Browns 6-3 under him. Hoyer completed 59 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and four picks. However, in Hoyer’s final five games as a starter, the Browns were 1-4 and he completed 50 percent of his throws with two TDs and nine picks.

Hoyer’s expected top two receivers with the Niners, Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, are both new. Garcon signed from Washington and Goodwin from Buffalo. Could San Francisco be interested in former Jet Eric Decker? He would be an upgrade on Goodwin, but Decker likely wants to play for a contender after being released by the Jets. Then again, the Niners have tons of salary-cap space and money talks.

There were reports entering OTAs that fourth-round rookie running back Joe Williams had a legitimate shot of taking the starting job from injury-plagued Carlos Hyde, but Hyde handled first-team reps throughout OTAs and minicamp. Hyde has played in only 34 of a possible 48 games as a pro but averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry in 2016. That ranked 11 th in the NFL, ahead of heralded backs such as Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray, Arizona’s David Johnson, Oakland’s Latavius Murray, Houston’s Lamar Miller and San Diego’s Melvin Gordon.

Good news on the defensive front as new coordinator Robert Saleh implements a 4-3 look. The first draft by Shanahan and GM John Lynch was universally lauded, especially the “theft” of landing Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, the best LB in the class, at No. 31 overall. The Niners traded their second- and fourth-round picks to Seattle to jump back into the late first round and snag Foster, a Top 10 talent.

The reason Foster dropped was due slightly to some off-field concerns but largely due to a shoulder injury that many scouts believed would require surgery and knock Foster out for this season. This week, though, Shanahan said he expects the 2016 Butkus Award winner to be "more than ready" for training camp. He’ll battle Malcolm Smith for a starting job. If Foster is healthy, that shouldn’t be much of a battle. Check out a BetOnline review of the lines for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Foster will be among the favorites.

The 49ers also recently signed pass-rushing linebacker Elvis Dumervil. His recovery from an Achilles injury limited him to eight games and three starts in 2016 with Baltimore, and he had a career-low three sacks. As recently as 2014, Dumervil had 14 sacks for the Ravens and is sitting on 99 career. The 49ers haven't had a player with more than 6.5 sacks in either of the past two seasons, and they finished 28th in 2016 in pressure rate. It’s a smart low-risk, high-reward signing.

Add in No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas, and the 49ers’ defense should improve upon last year’s 32 nd - ranked unit. Thomas hasn’t been allowed to participate in minicamp because Stanford's final exams weren’t completed. No rookies can practice until their school’s final exams are over.
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