NFL Post Mortem: the 2017 San Francisco 49ers
A lot has changed in seventeen weeks up in the bay area. The once mighty San Francisco 49ers went into the season hoping to squeeze life out of a journeyman quarterback thrust into a new system and take a run at a division title that was really open for the taking. No one in the NFC South looked dominate going in. The Seattle Seahawks were looking old, the Arizona Cardinals were a house of cards and the Los Angeles Rams were coming off a season that got their head coach fired. The 49ers had a new coach and a bout as good a shot as any, if only one piece had fallen into place.
New head coach Kyle Shanahan had a plan. He was going to reunite with his former quarterback Kirk Cousins, who already knew the system and could come in and pull the team together. The plan had one minor flaw. The Washington Redskins didn’t release Cousins as expected. This put a lot of things into a spin. The team signed journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer and drafted C.J. Beathard in the third round of the draft. They seems to be a stop gap for the year until Shanahan could get the quarterback he wanted. But they weren’t a stop gap, they were a disaster and the team lost the first nine games of the season and ten of the first eleven. Both Hoyer and Beathard played and neither showed signs of being a franchise quarterback.
But the season wasn’t completely bleak. After their eight loss, the team made a trade right at the deadline, sending a second round pick to the New England Patriots for their back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who was on the final year of his contract. The Patriots wanted to get something before they lost him and the 49ers needed something to spark some hope. He would come in and take Hoyer’s roster slot, with the veteran QB being cut and then signed by New England, where he had started. Beathard would continue to start for a few weeks while Garoppolo learned the system. C.J. would even get the teams first win of the season in week 10 versus the New York Giants.
Beathard started against the Seahawks in week 11 and played poorly. Garoppolo came in at the end of the game for a single drive that lead to a touchdown. It was the passing of the torch and the last time they would lose in 2017. Garoppolo started the following week against the Chicago Bears, leading the team to a 15-14 victory as he found his footing with the team. They would go on to beat the Houston Texans and then three playoff teams in the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Rams. The five game winning streak showed the potential the team has going into 2018 if Garoppolo is under center.
Shanahan and the 49ers have one thing on their to-do list, sign Garoppolo to a long term deal. They can franchise tag him if the negotiations become tricky, but they need to go into training camp with their franchise quarterback locked in for four or five years. Once that is done, they’re in a good place in the draft to address their needs, starting with an edge rusher. If they can get that in the first round, then come back in the third to start filling in holes the team will have a bright outlook for the new season.
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