Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN lists 49ers among teams predicted to make next season’s playoffs

Jan 21, 2021 at 9:58 AM--

The 2020 season didn't go as planned for the San Francisco 49ers. The team had hoped to make another run at the Super Bowl and erase the bad taste resulting from last year's heartbreaking defeat. Injuries spoiled San Francisco's plans, and Kyle Shanahan's squad missed the playoffs for the third time in the head coach's four seasons with the team.

Which was the outlier? Is it the 49ers' impressive Super Bowl run following the 2019 season or the injury-plagued 2020 season that resulted in just six wins? ESPN writer Bill Barnwell believes it's the former and listed the 49ers among his predicted 14 teams to earn a playoff spot next season.

Barnwell lists the 49ers as the No. 4 seed in the NFC, behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, and Dallas Cowboys. That means he has San Francisco winning the NFC West next season. Although, the ESPN writer admits to not knowing who the 49ers starting quarterback might be.

"Regardless of who it ends up being, he's likely to be better than what the Niners had in 2020, when Garoppolo started and finished only three total games," wrote Barnwell.

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the 49ers quarterback situation. Jimmy Garoppolo received votes of confidence from Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, who said Garoppolo is expected to be the team's starter in 2021. However, that hasn't slowed the media chatter surrounding a potential upgrade.

The 49ers also had some coaching-staff departures this offseason, including defensive coordinator Robert Saleh leaving to be the New York Jets' head coach. The team will (hopefully) be healthier next season, though. That will give the 49ers an immediate boost and help them make another playoff run.

"As good as Saleh has been over the last two years, every team in the league would prefer 16 games of pass-rusher Nick Bosa to a full season from a defensive coordinator," added Barnwell. "The 49ers should look more like their 2019 selves in 2021, and that should get them back atop the NFC West."

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