What We Learned About The 49ers In 2017
The 49ers are no longer a pushover team. It’s still a little early to crown Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, but it is hard to not like what we are witnessing right in front of our eyes. After starting the season 0-9, the 49ers amazingly finished the season 6-10, including five straight victories.
For the last few years however, opposing offenses have totally humiliated 49ers defenders. In 2016, the 49ers set an NFL record with the most rushing yards allowed in a single season. Teams were just lining up and cramming it down the the throats of one defender after the next.
49ers fans have struggled week in and week out watching the offense struggle in just about every phase. We’ve seen everything from sweeps on 3rd and 14 to kickers actually leading the 49ers on total points. Simply put, the 49ers have had a very anemic offense for three years. No dominant run game. A handful of pass plays that went for over 20 yards. No run after the catch. Teams have been loading up the box and daring the Niners to take a shot down field because they know the Niners lack talent at almost every skill position.
After three head coaches in three years, the 49ers were hoping they would hit on the fourth in four years. Rumors soon began to flood the wire. Josh McDaniels this week, Tom Cable the next. It literally felt like the circus would never end for the 49ers Faithful.
2017 got off to a bumpy start, but fortunately the 49ers have found themselves a franchise quarterback who has sped up to rebuild in San Francisco. Here we take a look at a few things we learned this year about the 49ers.
Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are legit
Rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and rookie general manager John Lynch are probably the two most interesting people in the NFL. Not only did they inherit a complete disaster of a roster, they had the challenge of refurbishing a historic franchise to the legacy it once was known as around the world. Jed York rewarded them with six year contracts and gave them the keys, the car and the kitchen sink to the entire franchise.
Lynch was living the dream a broadcaster for Fox Sports, in which he did a phenomenal job. Looking like a natural from day one, he was on his way to a great career in broadcasting. When the news for broke that the 49ers have signed Lynch as the general manager, the entire NFL was left in total shock. No one knew what would happen. How will he draft? How will he manage an NFL roster with zero front office experience? I think it’s safe to say York made the right choice.
Shanahan got a late start at signing coordinators and assistants because he was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons last year. He was not allowed to comment on the 49ers until the Falcons had completed the season, which ended in the Super Bowl. Even in that situation, Shanahan handled himself like a true professional and hired what looks like a solid staff.
Jimmy Garoppolo Is The Real Deal
Jimmy Garoppolo walked in calmly to one of the most complicated schemes in football with no knowledge of the playbook. After showing all of the intangibles needed to be successful in Shanahan’s scheme, Garoppolo has shown all the signs you’d expect from a franchise quarterback. Whether it’s his fast release or buying time in the pocket, ‘Jimmy G’ looks more like the total package with every snap he takes.
Displaying elite level pocket presence, Garoppolo has the ability to scan the defense for throwing windows all while avoiding the pass rush. Because the 49ers don’t possess elite receivers, Garoppolo can also use his legs to buy time until someone gets open.
There is a buzz floating around the NFL that Jimmy Garoppolo is the next big thing at quarterback in the NFL. Now it is up to John Lynch to sign him to a long term deal and ensure he is the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. With the most difficult position in sports apparently solved, it’ll be interesting to see the pieces Lynch surrounds the young signal caller with in 2018.
Defense Is Competing Again
John Lynch used his first two draft picks in 2017 on defensive players. And rightfully so. He is, after all, a future Hall of Famer who made a living by bullying offensive players who tried to come anywhere near his zone. It appears that aggressive nature has caught wind in San Francisco.
There were a hiccups along the way. The Cowboys and Eagles had their way with the 49ers, running on them at will. It appeared the Niners just didn’t have the personnel to be competitive on a weekly basis.
The 49ers’ defense finished 2017 with a top 10 defense against that allowed less than 4 yards a carry to ball carriers, which is a good average by NFL standards. That’s a huge improvement for the young defense, which finished close to last in every defensive category in 2016. With key cornerstones in place, the arrow is pointing up for the 49ers in 2018 as they will be led by DeForest Buckner and 2nd year players Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas, Ahkello Witherspoon, D.J. Jones, and hopefully Pita Taumoepenu.
How do you think the 49ers did in 2017? Let me know what you think in the comment section below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ninertoby to continue the conversation and stay up to date with the latest articles on ninersradio.com
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