With the start of yet another football season just right around the corner, the expectations are high for the 49ers. Here are five bold predictions for Charlotte football in the 2021 season.
5. Tyler Murray will make 1st team all-conference
After racking up 49 tackles in the team's shortened season last year, Murray, now a redshirt senior, will look to be the anchor for the 49er defense. Murray had two games last year with double-digit tackles and was 66th in the FBS in tackles per game with 8.2 on average.
With the loss of Tyriq Harris to graduation, a lot of responsibility will be on Murray to be the leader on defense. If the team gets to play a whole year, there is a good chance Murray will find himself on the all-conference first-team list.
4. Charlotte will beat Duke this year
Anyone who follows 49ers football knows how the game between Charlotte and Duke went last year. It was not the outcome that head coach Will Healy or anyone had in mind on the Charlotte sideline. The 49ers will be out for blood this year, and the team knows what it will take to beat the Blue Devils.
Charlotte will get to play this year's game at Jerry Richardson Stadium in front of their fans. With fans not attending games last year, there were no "home-field advantages." Now, the 49ers will be relying on the fans to be loud and ready to cheer them on.
Lastly, with Chase Brice transferring from Duke to Appalachian State, the Blue Devils will have a different quarterback under center this season. If Healy and the 49ers can limit Duke's offense compared to last year's game, Charlotte has a great chance to knock off Duke.
3. Charlotte will finish above .500
The 49ers play several teams at home this year that they have had success against in the past. The team also has the luxury, as mentioned above, to play Duke at home. They will also face Marshall at home, who has had a national ranking for multiple weeks at a time in recent years. Charlotte beat Marshall in a home game in 2019 that clinched a bowl game for the 49ers.
The 49ers have the talent to win many conference games and even a handful of their non-conference bouts this season. Realistically, the team has a decent shot to go 7-5, or maybe 8-4.
2. The 49ers will be bowling again in 2021
By now, everyone knows what a letdown 2020 was for not only the 49ers but for many teams around the nation. It goes without saying that after a 2019 campaign where the 49ers made their first-ever bowl game, the season expectations were very high going into 2020. Unfortunately, some of these expectations were unrealistic going into an uncertain year like 2020, where nothing was guaranteed, and many games ended up rescheduled or canceled.
Many predict that the 49ers have the talent to make their second-ever bowl game with fewer virus-related interruptions this season. With veteran players like Chris Reynolds, Victor Tucker and Cameron Dollar, the 49ers have the pieces to have a winning football team and bring home a bowl game trophy.
1. Charlotte will finish second in the East Division of Conference USA
Saving the best prediction for last, this team can finish second in the east division. It will be a challenging task to contend with Marshall. With that, the 49ers will finish second in the east division.
Again, several factors are in play here, such as the team's health as the season progresses, how much Covid-19 interference the 49ers encounter, etc.
Charlotte plays Marshall on Senior day; this Senior day will allow the team to honor players who have helped build the program. Quarterback Chris Reynolds, wideout Victor Tucker and linebacker Tyler Murray will all be seniors. The game is at home, so the 49er faithful will be out to support their seniors in a pivotal matchup to decide who will play in the conference championship game.
These predictions are bold, but the 49ers will look to live up to the hype in what should be a "normal" year of football. The season is right around the corner, and Charlotte kicks things off against the Duke Blue Devils on Sep. 3 at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.