We’re a week and a half into the offseason, and no 49er player has yet been arrested. Super Bowl here we come!
There seems to be a ground swell of optimism forming for the 2019 season, unlike any season in, well, never. For some reason, despite history and every lesson to the contrary, football fans seem to be constantly enthused that their team is going to be terrific the following season.
Last offseason, these optimists were wetting their knickers at the prospect of Jimmy Garoppolo leading the team to or very near the playoffs in 2018. That dream was squashed in the third game when Jimmy tore his ACL. As you can see from the Prognostications listings, one of those optimists was yours truly.
Now, we’re right back at the same space, expecting the same great things as we expected last year. A bit of an offseason rerun. Still, it might be pointed out that Nick Mullens played eight games and finished as the seventh rated QB in the league in terms of average passing yards per game. Better than Garoppolo, in that regard. And yet, Mullens record was only 3-5.
There were a lot of injuries this year, but aside from Garoppolo’s, none of the injuries involved a major player. That’s because the team has no major players. There’s George Kittle and Deforest Buckner and nobody else. And neither Kittle nor Buckner were injured. Jerick McKinnon might have looked like a big loss at the beginning of the season, but how much more productive would he have been compared to the year Matt Breida had?
It’s tempting to claim Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis were major players who got injured, but neither has been healthy enough to yet be considered major players and being injured was a fairly constant condition last year.
At the least, the team needs a functioning secondary, a pass rusher, a healthy number one WR, and an O-line upgrade to make much of a push up the ladder of respectability.
On the plus side, though, the bar has been set so low by four consecutive very bad seasons, that nobody remembers how good the Niners used to be. A 7-9 or 8-8 season would probably cause hearts to tremble lovingly, but that was the expectation of most for last year. And is that really much of an improvement for year three?