The San Francisco 49ers currently sit at 1-10, getting ready to start Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The record is not all that shocking, but the quarterback is certainly something nobody expected prior to the unexpected trade deadline deal.
The Garoppolo move is certainly the most unexpected thing to happen this season, but what else would you include on the list of unexpected happenings? Here are a few that I considered.
1. The injuries
Injuries are part of the game, so I expected some injuries. But this kind of volume? The 49ers have 20 players on injured reserve, and with five games remaining, that number could increase further. I am not positive, but I think that is the highest total in the league.
2. Ahkello Witherspoon starting
Witherspoon had a tough training camp, where his lack of bulk seemed to be creating issues. He was inactive the first four weeks, and it seemed like this would be a learning year and effectively a red-shirt campaign. However, something was sparked, and Witherspoon emerged as a starter, and I’d argue the best cornerback on the team. He has work to do to improve his technique, but this has been a strong year for him.
3. Losing in Seattle by a field goal
I figured the 49ers would have some close games, but that run of five straight losses by a field goal or less was kind of crazy. And more specifically, going into Seattle and taking them down near the wire was not something I expected. The Seahawks rebounded in the second matchup to win fairly handily, but the 49ers strong showing in Seattle was heartening.
4. Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert emergences
The 49ers safety position seemed deep with Jimmie Ward’s move to free safety, but it turned out to be deep for entirely different reasons. Jaquiski Tartt was impressive in place of an injured Ward, and Adrian Colbert looked great when he was replacing an injured Tartt and Ward. Tartt is out for the year, while Colbert should be back soon from his broken thumb. Both offer intriguing possibilities next year at the safety positions.