Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Is the 49ers’ season Super Bowl or bust?

Jun 27, 2021 at 10:00 AM--

After reaching the Super Bowl in 2019, the 49ers had a disappointing season in 2020, going 6–10, as they suffered several key injuries.

Star pass rusher Nick Bosa and rotational piece Solomon Thomas both tore their ACLs during Week Two, effectively ending both of their seasons.

Then, as the season progressed, Raheem Mostert, Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, and other valuable pieces all faced the injury bug, ending the 49ers' playoff hopes much earlier than expected.

Coming into the 2021 season, the 49ers are once again tasked with heavy expectations, as they have a relatively healthy roster, and talent on both sides of the ball.

During the offseason, the 49ers shocked the NFL world by re-signing almost all of their own free agents in a dry market.

After re-signing Trent Williams to a monster six-year deal, the team also brought back defensive backs K'waun Williams, Emmanuel Moseley, and Jaquiski Tartt, defensive tackle D.J. Jones, running back Jeff Wilson Jr., fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and more, while also signing defensive end Samson Ebukam and center Alex Mack.

With a healthy offense to go with their dominant defense, the 49ers seem in position to contend once again in 2021. With that said, should we write this season off as Super Bowl or bust?

Despite the talent on this roster, the answer is a firm no, despite Adam Rank arguing that the team needs to make the Super Bowl for the season to be a success.

This was first established earlier this year during the 2021 NFL Draft, when the 49ers selected quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick.

While Lance possesses quality traits with his arm power, running ability, and most importantly, his football mind, he likely will not begin the season as the starting quarterback, and rightfully so.

In the past two years, only one quarterback from each draft class began the season as a starter: Arizona's Kyler Murray in 2019 and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow in 2020.

Moving from the FCS to the NFL, especially after limited action last year, is a hard transition, so it would be wise for the 49ers to ease Lance into the gameplan, even with his superb mind and athletic abilities.

However, by selecting a player for the future in the draft, the 49ers have their minds not only on this season, but on the future as well.

Since their focus is not just on the upcoming season, it would be unfair to label this season as a Super Bowl or bust year.

In addition, the 49ers have an influx of young players that are still developing, but are also some of their main contributors, like receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. While both players have shown flashes of being stars in the league, neither has any accolades on his resume to solidify himself as an elite receiver, yet.

Still, this season should be seen as the team's best chance to make the Super Bowl in the immediate future. Many of its key players are on one-year deals, and are likely to leave within the next year or two, depending on the free agent market.

If the 49ers can continue funneling in talent to replace those veterans, they should remain in a contending spot for the foreseeable future.

The season is likely Garoppolo's last as a 49er because he holds a $27 million cap hit next season, and with a cheaper quarterback on the roster and a Bosa extension due, the team will want to preserve cap space.

The 49ers have their best offensive line in recent years, but some of their starters are aging, and the level of play may decline as years pass.

With a system quarterback, a deep running back group, healthy wide receivers, and an All-Pro tight end, this offense should be competitive.

Last season, despite facing injuries to a flurry of contributors, the 49ers still ranked fifth in yards allowed per game.

With much of their talent back and healthy, look for the 49ers to continue their dominance, even with a loaded division and a new defensive coordinator.

Still, don't count this year as a Super Bowl or bust season.

The 49ers play in the toughest division, have an eye towards the future, and still have a solid amount of young talent that extends their competitive timeline, as long as they continue to bring in talent to replace veterans.


  • Jon Hein
    Everything I see the 49ers doing makes me think they are aiming for 2022. While they are doing what they can to try to win this year, it looks like they are centering around 2022.
    Jun 27, 2021 at 1:45 PM
  • Sean
    Every year is a Superbowl or bust year. This is professional sports, why else play the game?
    Jun 27, 2021 at 11:19 AM

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