Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


NFL.com: “Book the Niners for next year’s playoff party”

Jan 19, 2021 at 1:48 PM--


Despite having a significant number of players set to hit free agency, most realize that the San Francisco 49ers have a strong nucleus in place. That includes a talented coaching staff. The 2020 season was seen as an abnormality and not necessarily the signs of a lasting downfall.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is still considered one of the best young football minds in the league. His squad simply could not overcome the rash of injuries that plagued its depth chart.

One Around the NFL writer, Marc Sessler, expects a healthier 49ers roster to rebound in 2021. He listed the team among his four top candidates poised for a turnaround following disappointing 2020 campaigns.

"My reasoning is simple: Kyle Shanahan is a top-three coach," explains Sessler. "He did more to prove that this season than during San Francisco's Super Bowl run a year ago. No team in football was more harassed with injuries, as the Niners deposited a league-high 31 players on injured reserve. Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk all missed substantial chunks of time on offense, while Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas and Richard Sherman made a combined nine starts for an overachieving, injury-ravaged defense."

The New York Jets are another team on Sessler's list. He calls the move to name former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh the head coach a "transformative hire."

In Santa Clara, the loss of Saleh could be significant. San Francisco replaced him with linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans, who has been with the team since Shanahan's hiring in 2017. The 49ers head coach also has an offensive coordinator for the first time, promoting run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel to the role.

"It's fair to wonder about falloff on that side of the ball with inside linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans replacing the beloved Robert Saleh at coordinator," continues Sessler. "I trust the Niners to keep the vibe alive, especially on offense, where trusted assistant Mike McDaniel will take over coordinator duties. I had a Niners coach tell me at last year's NFL Scouting Combine -- the last time I hung out with anyone -- that McDaniel was not unlike a mad scientist. A brilliant schemer. A secret weapon who remains.

"Will Shanahan and McDaniel be calling plays for Garoppolo or another? San Francisco is a second team to watch on the Watson front. Either way, book the Niners for next year's playoff party. They have every right to seethe over what occurred this past autumn."





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