Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, sports fans! On Sunday, the new-look 49ers shocked the sports world (myself 100% included) by steamrolling an extremely solid Jacksonville Jaguars team. Since taking the reins of the offense four games ago, Jimmy Garoppolo has managed to turn around a franchise that has been in a nosedive for years on end, and made a major statement by leading this team to victory.
His first two victories were a good start - tough matches against bad competition. Last week’s victory against the Tennessee Titans was something of a head turner; the Titans are by no means world-beaters, but they are a team who knows how to win games. This game, however, represents something special. The Jaguars have been in it to win it all season, boasting numerous offensive weapons and the stingiest defense in the league.
I like the 49ers well enough, but I had made up my mind that a loss to the Jags was a foregone conclusion, and the magical start to Jimmy G’s career had to eventually come to an end. Justifications aside, they really do sport a defense loaded with talent at every level, and Jimmy G.Q. has been with the team for less than two months. It was time for the Cinderella story to end.
Sunday’s performance stands as a rare opportunity to thoroughly relish being so very, very wrong.
Jimmy Garoppolo is now 4-0 as the 49ers starting quarterback. Before he took over, it took the 49ers nearly two seasons to compile that many victories (4-27 over 31 games). The running game, while still underperforming, persevered despite some tough sledding early on, and the defense stepped up against Blake Bortles, who has been recently playing the best football of his career. While this was certainly a team effort, I just can’t see the same results had the team been starting any other recent 49ers QB.
I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that I started looking forward to the 2018 season before the 2017 season even started. This season was always going to be a lost season, and 2018 represented “something that wasn’t 2017”, thereby giving it some value - at least for me (and every Browns fan ever). This game, however, changed that. A victory against an extremely tough, playoff bound opponent like the Jags means that 2018 could well mark the 49ers return to prominence. It’s too late for 2017, but another draft, a busy free agency, and an offseason of growth could make for an extremely dangerous 49ers team next season.
On to the good stuff-
49ers look like a 2018 playoff team | Kurtenbach, Mercury
49ers rebuild not a one-man operation | Steward, Mercury
George Kittle on the “Levi Leap” | Lynch, KNBR
Robbie Gould: “MVP chants were for me” | Lynch, KNBR