It’s late July, which means this will be forgotten by January.

I hope?

It’s probably folly to forecast an NFL season (Did you have the Panthers losing 10 games last year?), but that didn’t stop me from making 25 guesses, um, Bold Predictions concerning the 49ers’ 2017 season.

Why 25? That’s one for every loss the past two seasons.

Away we go:

1. The possibility of Kirk Cousins playing for the 49ers in 2018 will be the dominant storyline before the 49ers visit Washington in October (Sorry, I’ll get bolder, but here’s the thinking: Avoid 0-for-25).

2. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch won’t be fired after the season (Also: Avoid 1-for-25).

3. The 49ers will beat the Panthers in their season opener because A) They’ve won six straight season openers and B) Teams that fire their general manager two minutes before training camp begins are 0-37 in season openers.

4. The 49ers will finish 7-9 and become a trendy playoff pick before the 2018 season.

5. Wins: vs. Panthers, vs. Rams, at Washington, vs. Cardinals, at Chicago, vs. Jacksonville, at Rams.

6. Losses: at Seahawks, at Cardinals, at Colts, vs. Cowboys, at Eagles, vs. Giants, vs. Seahawks, at Texans, vs. Titans.

7. The defense will jump from abhorrent (32nd in points allowed in 2016) to average (15th in 2017).

8. Rookie LB Reuben Foster (No. 31 pick) will start alongside NaVorro Bowman and make a bigger impact than rookie DT Solomon Thomas (No. 3).

9. TE Vance McDonald won’t make the 53-man roster.

10. Other Trent Baalke-era draft picks who won’t survive final roster cuts: WRs Bruce Ellington, Aaron Burbridge and DeAndre Smelter; DTs Tank Carradine and Ronald Blair; TE Blake Bell; OT John Theus; OLB Eli Harold and CB Prince Charles Iworah.

11. Two undrafted rookies will make the opening 53-man roster: RB Matt Breida and TE Cole Hikutini.

12. Nine of 10 draft picks will make the opening 53-man roster. The lone exception: Seventh-round DB Adrian Colbert, who will land on the practice squad.

13. Rookie QB C.J. Beathard will have a meh preseason, won’t play in the regular season and won’t be a starting option in 2018.

14. Brian Hoyer will miss four games with a shoulder injury (sorry, Brian), but will throw 20 TDs and nine INTs in his 12 starts.

15. Rookie RB Joe Williams will quickly grow into a timeshare with Carlos Hyde. Williams will have 712 rushing yards. Hyde will finish with 652.

16. LB Elvis Dumervil will have a team-high nine sacks.

17. “Fifth-round steal” will often precede TE George Kittle’s name in print. The rookie will lead the team’s TEs with 43 catches for 516 yards and 4 TDs.

18. CB Keith Reaser will beat out rookie Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson to earn the starting spot opposite Rashard Robinson.

19. CB K’Waun Williams will beat out Will Redmond for the slot role.

20. The leading WRs: Pierre Garcon (70 catches) and rookie Trent Taylor (62).

21. Best bang-for-buck free-agent signing: K’Waun Williams.

22. Worst bang-for-buck free-agent signing: FB Kyle Juszczyk. He’ll have a solid season, but the NFL’s highest-paid fullback won’t quite meet the expectations inspired by his $21 million deal and “offensive-weapon” hype.

23. Best-value draft pick: Foster (No. 31 overall) beats out Taylor (fifth round) and Kittle.

24. Worst-value draft pick: Witherspoon (third round, No. 66).

25. Players voted to Pro Bowl: LT Joe Staley and DT DeForest Buckner.

Twitter: @Eric_Branch

About the Author: Insidethe49

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