In 2017, the 49ers offense had big problems. For the first two thirds of the season, with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and rookie C.J. Beathard, a thin receiving corps and a shaky line, the Niners had some tough times en route to an 0-9 start.
But once Jimmy Garoppolo took over the starting job at quarterback, the offense came to life, winning five straight to close the season at 6-10. Over the last four games, the 49ers put up 26, 25, 44 and 34 points.
In one season under head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers moved from 31st in total offense in 2016 (under former head coach Chip Kelly) to 12th in 2017.
Now, following the draft and veteran period of free agency, that once-struggling offense is now the most expensive in the NFL.
As Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week, the 49ers have invested $120.4 million to offensive players, the highest total in the league. More than 60 percent of the team’s salary cap is going to the offense, a percentage that ranks No. 4 in the NFL, Branch reports. That will go up once No. 1 pick Mike McGlinchey signs. There could be other additions, too.
Garoppolo’s huge new $137.5 million contract is a big chunk of that investment in offense, with left tackle Joe Staley, center Weston Richburg and running back Jerrick McKinnon also getting new deals to raise the level.
General manager John Lynch said this offseason the 49ers, with a lot of room under the salary cap, were committed to spending their money wisely to improve key areas on both sides of the ball and to retain players. Garoppolo and Staley were two holdovers from 2017 that were absolutely necessary to keep for the rebuilding franchise.
"We’re going to continue to re-sign our own players that we think are a part of this puzzle," said Lynch.
Now, with much more time to be comfortable in the offense after being acquired at the trade deadline last season, Garoppolo could be in position to lead the now-high-priced offense to more wins in 2018.