Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Why Bleacher Report names the 49ers among its most overrated teams in 2021

May 10, 2021 at 9:28 AM--

Bleacher Report recently named five teams that it felt were the most overrated heading into the 2021 season. These are the squads that won't live up to expectations, according to contributor Maurice Moton.

The San Francisco 49ers were on his list. They are joined by the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots.

The Niners dealt with a lot of adversity last season. All NFL teams did after being forced to navigate through a global pandemic. The 49ers, however, also dealt with an unprecedented number of injuries which transformed their roster from the start of the season.

San Francisco's players missed a total of 161.6 games last season, according to Football Outsiders. The next-highest number was 126.1, which the Philadelphia Eagles owned. Only the 2016 Chicago Bears endured more adjusted games lost since 2001.

Injuries, and a lack of faith in the team's starting quarterback, are among the first reasons Moton provides for the 49ers being named among this year's most overrated teams.

"The 49ers have a playoff-caliber roster when they're relatively healthy," wrote Moton. "With that said, Garoppolo isn't a reliable starter. He's missed 23 games over the last three seasons. We could see rookie quarterback Trey Lance take over for his oft-injured veteran counterpart.

"If Lance, Josh Rosen, Nate Sudfeld, or Josh Johnson start multiple games, the 49ers don't have much of a shot to reach Super Bowl LVI."

That isn't the only reason, though. Moton feels the loss of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, now the head coach of the New York Jets, creates some uncertainty surrounding the 49ers defense. The writer believes San Francisco could feel the loss this season as the unit adapts to a transition to DeMeco Ryans and possibly takes a step back.

"DeMeco Ryans, who will take over play-calling duties, has been an assistant on staff since 2017, but he's an unknown as a coordinator," wrote Moton.

One specific area of concern on that defense lies within the defensive backfield. Moton feels that's not an area you want to question when you have to face Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Kyler Murray a total of six games a year. Richard Sherman is no longer with the team. Even he couldn't escape injuries last season, which followed a Pro Bowl-worthy 2019 campaign.

Sherman remains a free agent. The team brought back Jason Verrett and K'Waun Williams, but was it enough to solidify the position?

"Jason Verrett had a solid 2020 showing, but he's hard to rely on because of his injury history," Moton explained. "In the third round of this year's draft, San Francisco selected cornerback Ambry Thomas, who must prove himself. Emmanuel Moseley is a decent starter, but he has just two interceptions in 29 games."

The 49ers' perceived deficiencies put more pressure on Garoppolo to stay healthy and perform, especially with a rookie quarterback getting up to speed. Moton wonders if the 49ers can heavily rely on the defense to overcome any other weaknesses, as it did in 2019.

"Without Saleh, San Francisco may need Garoppolo to shoulder more of an offensive load," Moton added. "If he's injured or a subpar performer while healthy, which was the case last season, the 49ers will struggle to even reach the playoffs. This squad has too many variables at play to be considered a top-five Super Bowl favorite."

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