Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Burleson explains why he’s so fascinated by the 49ers in 2021

Jun 12, 2021 at 1:57 PM--

Nate Burleson is really curious to see what the Jacksonville Jaguars do this season. The Emmy-award-winning analyst feels they could be better than most anticipate, even with a new quarterback in rookie Trevor Lawrence. He believes they have some potential at other key spots.

But that's not why you're here.

Burleson also named another team that is almost flying under the radar — the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, everyone expects them to be much-improved compared to last season, when the squad managed just six wins. That may have been an outlier, though. No team endured as many injuries as that one, and it still has much of its Super Bowl-caliber roster intact, with many of those rehabbing players set to return.

"I'm really curious to see what Kyle Shanahan is going to do in San Francisco because I really do give them a pass for last year," Burleson told Rich Eisen on the Rich Eisen Show. "They dealt with the most (injuries). They had the most guys on IR, and still, they were fighting throughout the season."

The team's best pass-rusher, Nick Bosa, missed 14 games last season after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed 10 games. Tight end George Kittle missed eight. The list goes on and on. However, those players are on track to return and make an impact in 2021.

Oh, and San Francisco added depth at quarterback with the selection of Trey Lance.

"Now, you're getting all these guys back healthy," Burleson continued, "but what's going to happen at the quarterback position? I'm fascinated by that. That Trey Lance selection, even though we kind of thought that Kyle Shanahan had the guts to do it, still, you have Jimmy Garoppolo getting paid over $100 million and took his team to a Super Bowl, and you go with Trey Lance? What does that tell you? That tells me that he's ready to move on from Jimmy G."

Many felt that would happen this offseason, perhaps before or during the draft. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch repeatedly stated that the plan was to keep Garoppolo in 2021, giving the rookie quarterback the time he needs to sit and learn the offense.

"But Jimmy G didn't get traded, which I thought it would have been a great landing spot in New England if they would have worked that out," Burleson added.

There is some skepticism surrounding whether that was actually the plan, or if the 49ers might have tried to gauge interest in Garoppolo. Regardless, the veteran quarterback remains on the roster, and the plan is to have him start Week 1 against the Detroit Lions with Lance waiting in the wings. And that fascinates Burleson.

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