On October 31st of 2017, the trade deadline was shortly coming to an end and the San Francisco 49ers needed to somehow solve their quarterback situation. Niners received a call from the New England Patriots offering Jimmy Garoppolo for a second round pick. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan talked among themselves for about ten minutes before accepting the deal.
Almost a month has passed and the Niners are sitting at a record of 1-9 while visiting Seattle. The rookie quarterback, C.J. Beathard, took a good hit and limped to the sideline allowing Garoppolo to take the field for the first time as a Niner. It only took three plays for Garoppolo to make sure the fans know that they finally have their franchise quarterback but Shanahan wasn’t impressed until the Tennessee Titans game when Garoppolo led their team down 22-23 with 1:07 left on the clock late in the 4th quarter to a game-winning field goal.
Shanahan’s initial plan was to pick up Kirk Cousins in free agency but he knew he had his future right in front of him. Garoppolo led the Niners to five straight wins to close out the 2017 season making one of the worst teams into one of the hottest teams in the league.
During the free agency and the draft, Shanahan and Lynch went heavily after offensive players like Weston Richburg, Jerick McKinnon, Dante Pettis, Mike McGlinchey, etc. Their main defensive acquisition in the off-season was Richard Sherman. Many fans were expecting a Wild Card spot in the playoffs or at least compete for top spot in the NFC West division. So what happened to all of the hype this year? Why aren’t the Niners meeting their expectations?
Well to start off the 2018 campaign, only a few days before the Week 1 match up against the Minnesota Vikings, Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL on the very last play of practice and ended his season. Fast forward to Week 3 in the 4th quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo was trying to lead his team to an amazing comeback but that quickly came to an end when Garoppolo was running to the sideline and tried to juke back onto the field even though he wasn’t close to the first down mark and ended up tearing his ACL to end his season.
Week after week, players on the team will get injured by either in practice or in the games and would be out for a few weeks. Hardly any one is one hundred percent healthy but they are still trying to pull through.
The Niners defense have been very inconsistent this year as well. The rookie Fred Warner had a very promising off-season during training camp. Reporters have been raving about how good he’s been looking and the coaches saw the same thing, which led to him getting the starting role as middle linebacker. However, there have several occasions where he would get the calls wrong which led to big plays by the opposing offense. Expect Warner to fix those up by next year because he has so much potential to be a great linebacker by his high IQ and coverage abilities.
2017 seventh round pick Adrian Colbert has probably been the most disappointing player this year so far. Colbert was shaping up to be a potentially great free safety in the Niners Cover-3 defense last year by making hard hitting plays and causing turnovers. All off-season, the Niners social media account would show plays of Colbert causing interceptions and making plays but we have yet to see that this year. Can’t tell if it’s miscommunication or he’s just not doing his assignments correctly but so far he’s been looking average at best right now.
The bright spots on defense so far have been DeForest Buckner, who has been consistently getting to the quarterback’s face and on pace to beat his record of six sacks in his rookie year. Also, Richard Sherman has allowed only two catches for 28 yards which is pretty incredible considering it’s already Week 8.
This season may not look great right now but there are a lot more positives than negatives coming up next year. Most, if not all, of the players will be healthy by the 2019 campaign and they will have a deeper understanding of the playbook, learn to correct their mistakes and more talented players should be added to the roster in free agency and the draft. Hope is not all lost and the season isn’t over with yet. The more experience these players get, the better they will become in the long run.