Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


2019 Niners’ Season May Help in Both the Short and Long-Term

Nov 20, 2019 at 6:27 PM1


This season has been incredible for the Faithful - our team, which was projected to maybe finish at 8-8, or 9-7, or possibly 10-6, if things broke right and injuries didn't hit too hard, is currently 9-1. The best record in the NFL. Think about that for a moment. The Niners are once again relevant. They are in position to make the playoffs, possibly win their division, and make a legitimate run at the Lombardi Trophy. The work put in by the front office, the coaches, the entire organization, has suddenly and dramatically paid off. There have been some challenges, however, and more lay ahead for the team. The fact that the team has managed to keep things moving in the right direction to this point, coupled with the fact that it looks like players will be getting healthy and the team as close to full strength as it will be as December rolls around, bodes well for its chances in the playoffs. There are some other elements to this season that play into what I expect will be both short- and long-term success for our team. Let me explain.

Every team has to deal with injuries. It is simply part of this incredibly brutal and ruthless game. The 49ers have had more than their fair share in this department, losing both starting tackles (Staley and McGlinchey), their fullback (Kyle J), their starting cornerback (Akhello Witherspoon), their defensive leader and best linebacker (well, maybe Fred Warner is as good as Kwon, but it's really close), and one of their stable of edge rushers (Ronald Blair). They have had less serious injuries to many more players, from Dee Ford to Deebo Samuel to the relatively new Emmanuel Sanders (can you believe he has only been with the team for three weeks?), the list goes on. The players who have filled in have done exceptionally well. Yes, I said exceptionally well, because while there were and are mistakes and missed assignments, while the running game has dwindled to a trickle, while the defense seems to be giving up more and more rushing yardage, especially early in games, the team just keeps winning. Hell, if the replacement kicker (forgot about that injury) had made his fourth field goal of the night, the team is 10-0. With all of the shifting and filling in, the team just keeps on winning.

This bodes well for both the rest of the season and beyond, as coaches and players have confidence in the backups, knowing that they have been in seriously challenging situations, playing in regular season games that truly matter, and they have stood up and held their own. It also builds unity in the locker room, everyone knowing that they have contributed to the season, to the success, and wanting to continue to win as a group. The team is unified and supports one another, something that was evident last season but which has become more of a culture in Santa Clara this season. If it can keep players around, this team looks to be in the mix for the next several years.

But this year is what matters, right? We have had a taste of success, something that we had not experienced in so long, and we want to see them win now. Well, the season's events, and those ahead, create the possibility that this team, while young and inexperienced, will actually be playoff ready when the time arrives. It has had to win every way this year. It overcame 5 turnovers and beat Pittsburgh. It has had to chase Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson around each of the last three weeks. It will have to chase Lamar Jackson and Wilson again before the end of the year. This will prepare it for facing a mobile quarterback in the playoffs, should that happen. It has played in big, prime time games, against Cleveland and Seattle, and will play more against Green Bay, the Rams and likely one or two others, given that it plays New Orleans, Baltimore and Seattle on top of those games. While not exactly the same as a playoff game, these are big games, with big emotion, media, heightened expectations and distractions, and the team will have experienced it all multiple times before the playoffs.
In addition, the Niners will have played what are, to this point, four of the best teams in the league, one of them, Seattle, twice. They are likely to see one or more of them again in the postseason, and familiarity with the way Drew Brees gets rid of the ball, or how the Ravens run the ball, or any number of other unique aspects to these teams, will benefit the Niners. But won't those teams have seen the same thing, you ask?

The answer to that is that yes they will have, but the fact that the Niners have had to basically be two completely different offenses this season, a run-first team for seven weeks and a passing offense for the last three, means that preparing for them will be twice as difficult as it generally is for a team, as well as letting the Niners see what works against these teams and what might not be used in the playoffs. Given Kyle Shanahan's creativity, I fully expect that he will learn from the regular season games and have new and different wrinkles come playoff time. In addition, it looks as though Dee Ford will be healthy when things get serious, as well as Kittle and Sanders. Staley should be back and McGlinchey, who has really struggled in his two games back, should be back to his solid self by the playoffs.

Finally, the coaching staff is still figuring out how to use this team. Remember, it was 4-12 last season, and Jimmy has started 19 games in his entire career. Kyle is still seeing what he can do, and Jimmy is still learning how to be a starting quarterback. One hopes that he starts to figure out how to avoid those one or two (or three) "NO JIMMY" throws each game. Time and playing, especially in big games, are what develop that sixth sense that the truly great quarterbacks seem to have.

The Niners have had a magical season to this point - although the fact that they have managed it, given the many challenges that the team has faced, makes their season even more impressive. They should make the playoffs, barring catastrophe, and will hopefully have a relatively high seed. I for one look forward to see how they look and play in January and beyond.
  • Written by:
    Matt Mani is a lifelong Bay Area resident, having benefitted from attending every Niner home game from 1973 to 1998. Along the way, he developed a deep love of the game and for the team. He is a practicing attorney in Marin County and, aside from pulling hard for the Niners, Warriors and GIants, writes in his spare time. He is father to three sons who all bleed red and gold. He somehow convinced the editors at 49ers Webzone to give him a chance to prove himself as a content provider, which has fulfilled one of his life's dreams.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Paul
    One thing about the Patriots is they have versatile players. They aren’t the most talented, but I never think they have a garbage player on the field. With the tackles going down I was worried, but the subs did a very good job getting valuable experience. Same with the defense. I don’t feel like there are too many garbage players on the roster anymore. Jimmy G has proved he can pass when the run is shut down. If Jimmy can cut the picks down this team can be a juggernaut.
    Nov 21, 2019 at 7:25 AM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Analyst believes 49ers may be backing Jimmy Garoppolo to boost his value

By David Bonilla
Jan 5, 2021

NFL Draft Scout's Matt Miller, formerly of Bleacher Report, joined KNBR on Monday and discussed a topic that is sure to dominate San Francisco 49ers-related headlines until March — Jimmy Garoppolo. While many in the media believe head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch may keep their options open when it comes to upgrading the quarterback position, both have repeatedly backed Garoppolo as the team's starter heading into the 2021 season. "As for the quarterback position, Kyle and I both have spoken, and spoken fairly directly as to the fact that we expect Jimmy to be our quarterback," Lynch said on Monday. "That's consistently met with other stories, but

Read the Full Article


Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch address the media following 2020 season, discuss 49ers' future

By Site Staff
Jan 4, 2021

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch spoke with reporters on Monday, the day after the team finished the 2020 season with a 6-10 record. Here is everything they had to say. Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff. Opening comments: General Manager John Lynch: "The only thing I'd like to say, I know I speak for [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], with all of you guys, I know a different year for you doing this remotely. You guys deal with Kyle a lot more than you do with me and our players, but we're very appreciative of your guys' patience and your flexibility to do it this way. We appreciate your cooperation and all that. So, thank you." First

Read the Full Article


Fred Warner trusts Shanahan and Lynch's vision for the 49ers, feels 2020 is the last losing season

By David Bonilla
Jan 6, 2021

There is so much uncertainty for the San Francisco 49ers as they embark into the 2021 offseason. Nearly 40 players are scheduled to become free agents, and the team is pressed up against a salary cap that is expected to drop from $198.2 million to a number that could be as low as $175 million. General manager John Lynch said this week that the 49ers are operating under the assumption that they will have $175 million to work with this year. Anything more would be a bonus. That means some tough decisions may be on the horizon, and the roster could look very different next season. Fred Warner, who will need a contract extension himself fairly soon, isn't too worried about the 49ers' future. After all, 2020's downfall had more to do with injuries than anything else.

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Matthew Mani

All Articles by Matthew Mani

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone