Last year couldn’t have gone much worse for a franchise that reached Super Bowl 54. Entering the season, several people tipped the San Francisco 49ers to go one step further and claim the city’s sixth Super Bowl win. Instead, the roster hit rock bottom and finished towards the bottom of the pile.
Still, a year later, everyone seems to think that Kyle Shanahan’s team has an opportunity for redemption. Even in sport, this is a miraculous turnaround. So, how has this roster gone from bust to boom in a short period?
There are no excuses for last season. A lot was expected of the 49ers and they failed to deliver. However, it wasn’t shocking when you look back and see that the majority of the locker room was significantly injured and out of action at some point. That included quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle, two men who were pivotal in the franchise’s success in 2019.
Nick Bosa’s ACL tear in Week 2 meant the much-admired defense was without its star defensive end. Let’s not forget that the defense is this side’s strength, so when it doesn’t fire, the offense will struggle too.
When you combine these factors and consider that Garoppolo, Kittle, and Bosa will return in 2021, it’s not hard to see why the NFL Futures betting odds have San Francisco as the fifth favorite. After all, it’s pretty much the same side that was seconds away from Super Bowl LIV glory.
If the team can recreate the rigidity in defense while being practical in offense, like they did in 2019, the 49ers will be tough to beat.
Competition for Garoppolo
Garoppolo is invaluable to the San Francisco 49ers’ style. People may have called for his head last season, yet the stats prove his value. He has the fourth-highest winning quarterback percentage when he starts games, with the 49ers compiling a record of 22-8 when he’s in the pocket. It’s hard to trade a guy with those numbers.
Of course, everybody knows that comfort breeds mediocrity. Once Garoppolo understands he’s invaluable, his performances may drop as he won’t go the extra mile for the locker room. However, it appears as if Shanahan has solved this problem already by drafting Trey Lance. Some believe Lance is already capable of taking over and leading the 49ers’ charge to Super Bowl LIV.
TREY TO THE BAY!@treylance09 | #49ersDraft pic.twitter.com/Y6Uu37Vdt9
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 30, 2021
Whether he is or he isn’t, Garoppolo can’t rest on his laurels after Lance was traded third overall. The bookmakers don’t think he will since San Francisco is +6.00 to win the NFC Championship behind last year’s Super Bowl winners, Tampa Bay.
The Shanahan Effect
Shanahan is well-respected, even though his coaching record in the NFL is 29-35. He’s only managed a winning season once, which was when his 49ers side reached the Super Bowl with a 13-3 year. Regardless, there’s no doubt that he has a bright, tactical mind that is behind a world-class offense.
Shanahan has done it for more than one franchise, too. He may not have been the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but it’s universally accepted that his offensive coordinator role was behind the Falcons’ run to Super Bowl LI.
Thanks to a loaded offense, this 49ers roster will have plenty of options to put opposing franchises to the sword. That’s why his odds for Coach of the Year are +15.00, making him the joint favorite along with Brian Flores and Brandon Staley.
Of course, it’s yet to be seen whether the entire NFL fraternity is correct. Only time will tell, but everything appears to be in the franchise’s favor at the moment.
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