State of the (Niners) Nation

What’s the state of Niners Nation?

Niners nations is not perfect, but I mean…c’mon.  Pretty great. 

Result

NFC West Champs, NFC Champs

2019 Regular season record: 13-3

2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 2nd 29.9 PPG

2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 8th 19.4 PPG

2020 Draft First Pick: 31

Coach: Kyle Shanahan

The Offseason Scenario

Runner-up can be a tough pill to swallow, but Coach Kyle Shanahan has been there before.  The 49ers were a bit of a surprise to come out on top in the tough NFC West this year, after a 4-12 rebuilding year in 2018 that didn’t necessarily show a ton of promise.  The master plan of GM John Lynch and coach Shanahan began to come together as a tough defense and run-first offense matured faster than many (myself included) expected.

The question Niners fans are asking now, especially after the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl is this: Is Jimmy G enough?  It’s a fair question. Generally speaking, the league hasn’t been kind to Tom Brady’s backups, despite a few big contracts. Jimmy probably has another year or two to raise his game, because once Mahomes started cooking, the Niners just didn’t have enough juice to keep up.  

Free Agent Frenzy

There’s always a trickle-down effect when we talk about free agents, and San Francisco is no different this year.  It seems clear that priority number one should be to retain Arik Armstead. The breakout defensive end was a huge part of the success of this team on defense, but he’ll be expensive to retain, even more so if they need to use the franchise tag on him. 

Adding to the complexity is the situation with DeForest Buckner, who’ll be looking for an extension and has been, by and large, the better of the two players. Offensively, it’s the receiving corps that needs some help. Deebo Samuel will be back, that’s easy and obvious, but both Kendrick Bourne and Emmanuel Sanders will become free agents, and it’s unclear if the team will jump through hoops to keep them on board.  My guess is that the strategy is to find bargains at wide receiver and plan to pay tight end George Kittle megabucks down the line. 

Seriously Premature Draft Hunches

See above.  Wanted: wide receivers.  Must be fast and sure handed.  Prima donnas need not apply. Kyle Shanahan won’t break the bank to bring in a high-profile receiver, and he shouldn’t.  His schemes will spread the ball around and don’t work with players who complain about touches. I can see them using more than one pick on the position, as well as some offensive line depth and a cover corner.  

One may be the loneliest number, but two just hurts so much.   It’s always tough to come back after a loss like the Niners just endured, but with a strong core of talent, San Francisco is well-poised to contend for the division and again next season in the brutally tough NFC West.  

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: AP Images

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