While the 2019 San Francisco 49ers may not be garnering quite the hype they were a year ago at this time, sparked by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and a five-game win streak to close out the 2017 season, there still appear to be notions the Niners are about to hit their stride anyway.

At least according to Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr, who listed San Francisco as one of five teams on the cusp of opening up a Super Bowl window.

Orr wrote:

The Jimmy Garoppolo contract looks better with time, even though Garoppolo has more legitimizing to do on the field. To the 49ers' benefit, of the top 10 quarterback contracts in the NFL Garoppolo's deal has the lowest percentage of total guarantees (53.8%). On paper, their defensive line is how a general manager would draw it up in their wildest dreams: All first-round picks, all under the age of 30. John Lynch spent money in his first two seasons, but in free agency worked on the younger end of the market (LB Kwon Alexander, RB Tevin Coleman, OL Weston Richburg) to add to the roster.

Garoppolo is entering year two of his five-year, $137.5 million deal signed early in 2018. After missing the majority of the season last year with an ACL tear, the pressure is going to be on for Garoppolo to live up to what was then a record-setting NFL contract. If he doesn't, however, the Niners do have some relatively easy outs from 2020 onward through the duration of Garoppolo's deal.

Orr's take highlights what was arguably the 49ers' biggest investment during the offseason, revamping the defensive line and the pass rush.

Making the trade for former Kansas City Chiefs EDGE Dee Ford, who posted 13 sacks last season and an NFL-record seven forced fumbles, was one part of the equation along with using the team's top pick in this year's NFL Draft on Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa.

Along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who had 12 sacks of his own last year, the Niners defensive line looks to be one of the more formidable units in the league this season.

San Francisco does have a number of other question marks, yes. The secondary is of concern, and injuries have been plaguing head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad the past two years. Yet if the pieces start to come together nicely, Orr could wind up being accurate in his prediction.

In addition to the 49ers, Orr listed the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins as teams opening up their contending eras.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.