San Francisco 49ers: Mission Impossible to Playoffs

The 49ers had a rough start in 2017.

A 0 and 9 record rough, to be exact.

They were struggling and quickly becoming the laughing stock of the NFC and the league as a whole.  The 49ers were viewed as a team on trajectory to join the Detroit Lions for their “perfect” season.  They were getting comparisons to Cleveland, who did end last season “perfectly.”  It wasn’t a good look for rookie GM John Lynch. All seemed bad for the 49ers but things changed on Oct. 30th.

That is the day Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from New England to San Francisco and a few short weeks later, the 49ers got their first win against the New York Giants.  A few weeks after that, Garoppolo got his first start with his new team. The 49ers ended the season on a 5 game win streak with Garoppolo as the starting quarterback.  The last 3 wins were against teams that were on their way to the playoffs:  the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Los Angeles Rams.

The big news of the NFC west last season was the fall of the Seattle Seahawks and the rise of the Los Angeles Rams.  The Rams, in particular, were a team projected to be good, but not playoff good, and expected to go nowhere in the division. The Seahawks were favored in the division but due to injuries, the defensive side fell hard.

Now, it’s the 49ers turn to be on top.

The 49ers have the quarterback they wanted and have a lot of confidence in him.  I mean, they did make him the highest paid quarterback in the league at a clip of $27.5 million per year.  In Garoppolo’s 5 starts for the 49ers he threw for 1,560 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 67.4.  So, as long as the 49ers can keep Garoppolo healthy and on the field, the future looks bright.

How does the rest of the team look?  Thanks to Garoppolo’s presence it seems that the offense looks to be on the rise, considering the team started 0-9, but ended 5-0 with Garoppolo as the starter.  They ranked 12th in the league with 349.2 yards per game.  However, they only had 103.9 rushing yards per game, which ranked 20th, respectively.  Improving the run game would be extremely helpful.

The best way to improve the team’s overall success would be by beefing up the defense.  The offense averaged 20.7 points per game, but the defense allowed 23.9. The defense allowed 351.6 yards per game, for perspective the #1 ranked team (Minnesota Vikings) allowed 275.9 yards.

The best part about the defense is that they had the fewest penalties called on them in the league with 791.  The weakest part of the defense looks to be it’s mediocre consistency.

The defense ranked 22nd in the league in both pass and rush defense.  When defending against pass, the defense allowed 235.2 yards per game and against run plays allowed 116.3 yards per game.

What does all of that mean?  The 49ers would be smart to focus on defensive players early in the draft players like Tremaine Edmunds, a linebacker out of Virginia Tech or Denzel Ward, a defensive back out of THE Ohio State. The 49ers have 9 picks in the 2018 draft, so I could see them looking at some offensive players. However, defense needs to be their primary focus.

The main goals for the 49ers to be successful, not only in the regular season but also the playoffs, are:

  1. Keep Jimmy Garoppolo on the field.
  2. Score more points!
  3. Play a higher level of consistent defense.
  4. Win the division, meaning beat the Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals.
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