Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The 49ers’ Super Bowl window has slammed shut

Nov 5, 2020 at 12:35 PM


Championship windows come and go quicker in the NFL than in any other major professional sports league and it's becoming increasingly evident one the San Francisco 49ers appeared to be in has closed right before our very eyes. In a season the players dubbed "the legendary revenge tour," the 49ers have found themselves ravaged by the injury bug at an inconceivable rate in a season during which the team currently has 40% of its salary cap being absorbed by players who are on injured reserve.

The staggering number of injuries certainly has played a vital role in the major regression the team has seen this season, which is incredibly disappointing given how much the 49ers invested in going all in for another run at a Lombardi Trophy. The important thing to remember is injuries and their subsequent rehab and recovery come with a substantial amount of uncertainty and there is no simple solution along the lines of "they'll just get healthy and run it back next season." Due to the question marks around the overall health of the team and the impending decrease in the salary cap due to lost revenue this season, it appears the 49ers will have to put their Super Bowl aspirations on hold as they face an uphill battle going into the 2021 season.

Although the roster is currently stacked with talent, the 49ers have 29 veteran players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this upcoming offseason. Combining that with the pending uncertainty of the 2021 salary cap makes it difficult to chart a path to the team retaining core players like Richard Sherman and K'Waun Williams while still having the financial flexibility to re-sign key contributors like Trent Williams, Jaquiski Tartt, and Jason Verrett , the latter of whom has appeared to have carved out a key role on the defense moving forward.

The 49ers' front office will be faced with some very difficult decisions in the coming months due to the near impossibility of keeping intact a roster that just played in a Super Bowl 10 months ago. In theory, the building blocks are there for a long-term run as contenders, with players like Nick Bosa and Fred Warner on the defensive side of the ball and young studs at wide receiver in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel to pair with All-Pro tight end George Kittle. The foundation they have to build on is one of which many franchises would be envious. However, it likely won't be enough to get them back to immediate contention without some serious tinkering/additions to the roster, including a change at the most important position in the sport.

The 49ers are no strangers to the fact they must compete in one of the best divisions in football, while also understanding they play in a quarterback-driven league. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which the 49ers can take command of a division for the long term with a quarterback who is at best the third most talented out of the four in the NFC West. The easiest path to the NFL playoffs is to win your division, and as long as the current gap at the quarterback position exists between the 49ers and the Seahawks (and to a lesser extent the Cardinals) the 49ers will have a difficult time winning the division with any consistency.

This goes beyond just winning the division, as the correlation between top-10 quarterback play and being among the league's top 10 teams is a noteworthy trend. The 2019 49ers saw their season end by Patrick Mahomes, who finished the season #2 in QBR, while their own quarterback was outside the top 10 in the same statistic. The Seahawks currently hold the NFC's #1 seed even with the league's worst total defense, in large part due to the elite play of Russell Wilson, who leads the league in passer rating. The importance of quality play from the quarterback position has never been higher. As a result, the 49ers can continue with a quarterback who's proven to not be elite and struggle to regain their championship form as a result. Alternatively, they will be forced to pivot and acquire one through the draft or via a trade, something that should cause the offense to go through an adjustment period to reach the growth needed to be a Super Bowl worthy unit.

Ultimately, the 49ers find themselves in good position in the long term given the young talent they have stockpiled. However, considering the amount of turnover the roster will face during the coming offseason it is unrealistic to expect the team will enter 2021 with the same Super Bowl or bust expectations that were present this year. The focus must be centered around developing the raw talent of a player like Javon Kinlaw and the rehab of a superstar like Bosa, whose recovery timeline from his ACL tear correlates directly with the 49ers' chances at making another deep playoff run.

If they can temper expectations and regroup, it becomes easy to see a track to another Super Bowl window opening in 2022 or 2023, depending on the decision they make at quarterback this offseason. The unfortunate reality, however, is the squad that dominated in 2019 has already seen its best days and its championship window already closed.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Frank Gore has this high praise for 49ers WR Deebo Samuel

By David Bonilla
May 7

When Frank Gore speaks, San Francisco 49ers fans listen. The man is an icon in the hearts of The Faithful. The former NFL running back, who remains the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, has a lot of love for his first NFL team too, always keeping up with new developments and often sharing his opinion on the team he admires most. Gore voiced his opinion on Friday, responding to a tweet asking fans to name the best wide receiver in the NFL. Gore's answer? Deebo Samuel. Not only did he call Samuel the best wide receiver, but he took it further, calling him the "best player all-around" in the NFL (h/t The Spun). That is some high praise from the future Hall



Why the 49ers drafted a running back in the third round

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 6

With their first 2022 NFL Draft selection not coming until No. 61 overall, the San Francisco 49ers were required to remain patient without a first-round selection for the first time in the Lynch-Shanahan era due to last year's trade-up to select quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick. With that first selection, the 49ers took USC edge rusher Drake Jackson, who some analysts considered a fringe first-round talent, making it shocking that he was still available near the end of the second round. However, with their second selection at pick No. 93, the 49ers surprised many, drafting LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who not only was a player at a position of low value, but also a player projected to go potentially one or two rounds later. So, why did



Are the 49ers mending their relationship with WR Deebo Samuel?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 6

Late Wednesday night, San Francisco 49ers fans sighed in relief as wide receiver Deebo Samuel reportedly followed the team on Instagram once again, which could be a sign that the relationship is getting back on track. Samuel, who scrubbed his account of everything 49ers related on April 7th, which was around the time of his reported trade request, was not moved during the draft as the 49ers stayed firm with their decision despite fielding multiple offers for the star receiver. Now, almost a month later, Samuel has re-followed the team, once again utilizing his power of social media to express his



Cowherd: It's time for the 49ers to go 'all in' with Trey Lance

By David Bonilla
May 6

On Thursday, FanSided national reporter Matt Lombardo tweeted out that the San Francisco 49ers are "continually underwhelmed" by Trey Lance. While most quickly dismissed the report, given the team's consistent praise of the second-year quarterback, Colin Cowherd offered a reaction on his FS1 show. The longtime host believes it's time for the 49ers to answer their doubters and go "all in" on their young quarterback. I have heard that the #49ers' staff has been continually underwhelmed by Trey Lance …


Featured

More by Jordan Elliott

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone