To say 2018 was a disappointing season for the San Francisco 49ers would be a massive understatement.
After trading for former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led to a resurgence late in the 2017 season, the ‘9ers came into last year expecting a potent offense to lead them to NFC playoff contention. Instead, they started slow out of the gate and lost their franchise quarterback to a season ending injury early in the year before finishing with just 4 wins on the season.
But with an electrifying 2019 draft class and the return of their QB1, the 49ers have high hopes for their upcoming campaign.
San Francisco’s offense essentially centers around the dynamic duo at the top: head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The future of the 49ers’ franchise hinges on these two, the offensive mastermind and his chosen franchise quarterback. Through one year together? Well, it was a bit disappointing, but Garoppolo’s week three injury complicates the evaluation a bit.
Garoppolo has been in the league for quite some time, and seemed to be anointed as the league’s next great quarterback quickly, but he actually has less game experience than Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott. Still, his highs have been high and the 49ers had no choice but to extend him last offseason.
Weapons wise the 49ers have a decent bunch. Tight end George Kittle leads the way for them in the passing game, and is quickly becoming one of the better tight ends in all of football. The 49ers also added former Falcons running back Tevin Coleman to their backfield, pairing him with Jerick McKinnon to create quite the receiving threat from the running back position.
In 2018, the 49ers defense finished ranked 23rd in defensive DVOA and was mostly average week in and week out. This offseason, though, they made a huge acquisition on draft day by selecting defensive end Nick Bosa, who will likely bolster their pass rush from day one.
Bosa is a pretty sure-fire stud at defensive end, but the 49ers also have some solid pieces elsewhere on their defense. Former Chiefs pass rusher Dee Ford will join Bosa in getting after opposing quarterbacks, and the linebacker duo of the newly acquired Kwon Alexander and second year player Fred Warner is nothing to scoff at. Sheldon Day, Arik Armstead, and and DeForest Buckner fill out the rest of a talented defensive line in San Fran.
In the back-end, the 49ers will rely on veteran Richard Sherman and third year cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to deal with receivers on the outside.
Overall, San Francisco posts a roster that should be able to compete for an NFC Wild Card spot in 2019. Their division will be a tough one, though, with both the Rams and Seahawks to contend with at the top and fresh new blood at quarterback and head coach in Arizona as well. Still, the ‘9ers have a promising roster and a good mix of talent.
Most of which we likely won’t get to see Saturday night, though.