By all accounts, the 49ers should be optimistic about the 2020 season – if it’s actually played, of course.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a question mark over all of professional sports, the Niners aren’t certain when, or if, the NFL will begin with training camps in July or the regular season in September.
But when the next season for the 49ers opens – whatever the date -- the outlook for a team that went 13-3 in 2019 is solid. The Niners have good, young talent on defense and offense, a franchise quarterback, elite players in tight end George Kittle, defensive end Nick Bosa and cornerback Richard Sherman, plus two first-round picks in the April 23 NFL draft.
So, the 49ers are obvious Super Bowl contenders in 2020. But as Adam Maya of NFL.com noted this week, history is against the 49ers getting back to the Super Bowl this season.
The 49ers charged to the NFC championship in 2019 with a rampaging running attack and dominating defense, but then stumbled in the fourth quarter of their Super Bowl matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, losing a lead and the game, 31-20.
That, wrote Maya, most often leads to a letdown the following year.
“History just hasn’t been kind to teams in their position,” he wrote.
Over the past 25 seasons, only the 2018 Patriots have returned to the Super Bowl the year after losing it.
He points out the past five NFC champions couldn’t even with their division the following season.
That doesn’t mean the 49ers can’t break that string, of course. But they’ll need to make some smart moves over the next few weeks to help them get back to the NFL’s championship game.
Wrote Maya: “San Francisco can help itself next week by making the most of its two first-round picks, which could be used to trade back for more selections. The Niners badly need reinforcements at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle and in the secondary, all of which can be found in this draft. Even if they hit on their defensive picks, some regression to the mean is expected for a unit that ranked among the very best last year.
“That’s why it’s paramount to upgrade some of the personnel alongside QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who looks to be more facilitator than playmaker. How well everyone performs around him might determine whether the 49ers buck history.”