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Former NFL scout thinks 49ers could be playoff contender in 2018

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The 49ers could be in great shape at three key spots in the organization. Is that enough to get to the playoffs next year?

NFL: San Francisco 49ers-Jimmy Garoppolo Press Conference Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night with the Dallas Cowboys win over Washington. The Giants join the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns as the first three teams mathematically removed from the playoff picture.

NFL Network analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah took a look at those three teams and thinks the 49ers have the best chance of being a playoff contender in 2018.

Jeremiah said a turnaround happens when you have the right person at general manager, head coach, and quarterback. He likes the team John Lynch has surrounded himself, and is coming off a strong first draft. He likes Shanahan as a play-caller, and is bright enough to evolve into a strong all-around coach.

The third level, the quarterback position, is going to be up for debate for the time being. The team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo in October, and is sending him out for his first start this Sunday. Some think the 49ers have their franchise quarterback and are just waiting for the long term deal. Others think Garoppolo will be the next in the line of failed Patriots backup quarterbacks. And most are likely somewhere in the middle, ranging toward cautiously optimistic.

Jeremiah is a Garoppolo fan, and believes he will emerge as a top 15 quarterback by the end of next season. That’s certainly a bold prediction, but what do others think? The 49ers playoff chances in 2018 will revolve around that and further solidifying the defense. Can he emerge as that kind of quarterback?

In some ways, this brings us back to my post this morning about the quarterback position. The 49ers could very well be locked in at the quarterback position for the next few years with a strong starter and backup. But with no guarantees at this point, it remains to be seen just how settled they are for the time being. I’m optimistic, but not certain. And so, it raises questions about if there is any further need to address the position before the start of the 2018 season.