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Fans in the Bay Area greeted the 2018 season with a renewed sense of optimism following an inspiring end to the 2017 season. Emerging from the ashes of the disastrous season with Chip Kelly, new life was breathed into the team when former NFL player John Lynch was tabbed to become the new general manager for the team. He was tasked with finding the next Head Coach. He chose Kyle Shanahan, an innovative football mind with a pedigree rooted in a familial history with the game. In fact, Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, was Lynch’s Head Coach in Denver. Kyle Shanahan had most recently worked as the Offensive Coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
Things got off to a very rocky start, as the 49ers would lose nine out of their first 10 games in 2017. Heading into December, it seemed that the team would be unable to make tangible progress in Shanahan’s first year. However, it would seem that the progress they were looking for was just one player away. Organizations are always looking for that one spark that can jumpstart the whole team. The 49ers found that spark when they called on Jimmy Garoppolo to start for them at Quarterback. Acquired via a blockbuster mid-season trade with the New England Patriots, Garoppolo was on the sidelines for the first few weeks of his tenure with the 49ers.
Getting his first start in Week 13 last year, Garoppolo and San Francisco went on a five game winning streak to finish the season. Salvaging the final record and reinvigorating the fan base, the 49ers have decided to heavily invest in their new QB. A huge offseason deal was announced that will keep Garoppolo in the Bay Area for the next five years to the tune of $137.5 million, making him the highest paid player in the league on an annual basis. Looking to protect their investment, the 49ers used their 2018 first round pick (number nine overall) on Mike McGlinchey, a strong offensive tackle out of Notre Dame. McGlinchey would do all he could to make sure that Garoppolo stayed upright and keep his uniform clean.
However, in Week 3 of this year, Garoppolo would leave with a knee injury, later to be confirmed as an ACL tear which would end his season. The team would fall into a tailspin without a solid qb and was quickly relegated to the bottom of the standings.
Late in the season, there was some joy brought to the fanbase by Garoppolo’s replacement. The Undrafted Nick Mullens was given a start and has been able to play quite well. His debut marked the first time in 49ers history that a quarterback threw for three scores in his first game with the team. Struggling to salvage the year, Mullens has plenty of help around him.
Mullens will head back to the bench in 2019 as Garoppolo should be ready to go by training camp. He is excited that the 49ers signed Jordan Matthews in the offseason to be a new target in the passing game.
Matt Breida takes the majority of the touches at running back while a receiving corps featuring Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin, paired with George Kittle at tight end makes for some decent passing targets. Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was added to the defense last year but suffered a season-ending injury prior to the season. He has worked to get back on the field and has made an impact alongside a new teammate. Cornerback Richard Sherman signed with the 49ers and is still a strong presence in the backfield. Accurate veteran kicker Robbie Gould is back to knocking extra points and field goals through the uprights again this year.
There is a history of success in the Bay Area from which to draw inspiration. San Francisco has won five Super Bowls in their history. Three were under the Hall of Fame Coach Bill Walsh, and two more under his successor, George Seifert.
Notable players to have laced up in the iconic red, white, and gold uniforms include some of the best the NFL has ever had to offer in Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig. For more about the San Francisco 49ers and their history, click here.