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NFL countdown: 49ers reset after Super Bowl loss

This is the 30th in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Thursday season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

The San Francisco 49ers were about seven minutes away from winning the Super Bowl. Now they have to start the journey over, this time with a target on their backs in the NFC.

“I’d look for them to take a step back this year,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The division is a lot more competitive this year.”

The 49ers went 13-3 last season and romped to two playoff victories. They held a 20-10 lead over Kansas City midway through the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl before the Chiefs ripped off three touchdowns in just over six minutes to earn a 31-20 victory.

Jimmy Garoppolo was a few minutes away from being minted as a championship-caliber quarterback. Instead, questions persist on whether he is an elite signal-caller.

Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes last season for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns, but he threw 13 interceptions and lost five fumbles.

He wasn’t asked to do much in two easy playoff wins, throwing for 208 yards total. He threw for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the Super Bowl and overthrew Emmanuel Sanders on the potential go-ahead touchdown with under two minutes to play.

“A lot falls on Garoppolo,” Esposito said. “He hasn’t had to go out and win games. He does turn the ball over a little bit.”

Garoppolo supporters can point to the bottom line: He is 23-6 as a starter, including 2-1 in the playoffs. And, fortunately, he has plenty of help.

“They’re going to run the ball and play solid defense,” Esposito said. “That’s still a formula to win in this league.”

Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said he expects the 49ers to take a small step back this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a contender.

“I definitely lean under their wins. Regression 101,” he said. “But I still think they’re the best team in the division.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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