The San Francisco 49ers have won two straight and find themselves with another year-end surge. A year ago, the 49ers won five straight and six of their last seven to close the season at 6-10. This year, they have improved to 4-10 with a chance to maybe swing one more win before the season wraps. And even if they do lose these final two games, confidence is growing.
Each week, we run our site FanPulse to see how confident 49ers fans are. It’s been up and down for much of this year, but each of the past three weeks the confidence has risen, and fan confidence is the highest it’s been since Jimmy Garoppolo hurt.
Entering the season, fan confidence was at 99 percent. It dropped to 97 percent after losing in Week 1 to the Minnesota Vikings, and then slipped to 93 percent after an ugly Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions. The next week, it went off a cliff following Jimmy Garoppolo’s ACL injury.
Over the past three weeks, the confidence rating has climbed from 30 to 47 to 62, and now to 76 percent. When the 49ers nearly upset the Los Angeles Chargers the week after Garoppolo got hurt, confidence climbed up to 60 percent — but that’s the highest it had been prior to this recent climb.
Earlier this week, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about the way this team has found success the past two Decembers. He thinks it comes down to younger players getting more opportunities early in the year and it taking time for it all to come together.
“You get better the more you play. I think we’ve given guys a lot of opportunities in these two years to play. I don’t think they have gotten it right away. But, when you’ve got the right guys and they continue to work at it, I think they naturally get better. I don’t know if that’s the exact reason it’s happened in these two seasons. We have played a lot of younger guys. We talked about it last year with the [WR] Trent Taylor’s and [WR Kendrick] Bourne’s and Ahkello and [DB Adrian] Colbert and same thing, a little bit more similar this year. The guys have gotten better as they’ve gone and that’s a good sign for those guys.”
The natural follow-up was what adjustments could the coaches make to get the team playing better earlier.
“Yeah. You try to look into everything. We don’t do much different schematically. I do think we have been playing better the last month or so. But, I think that’s just trying to get guys better and better. Even when we took a step in the right direction last year, it doesn’t mean at all that you’ve arrived. You better not ever think you’re close to arriving. You’ve always got to realize that you’re either getting better or worse. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to get better every single day. You don’t stop thinking that way until you win a Super Bowl. Then, if you stop thinking that way right after that, you’ll never win one again. So, it’s just a mindset you’ve got to always keep. You’ve got to come to earn your check every single day and everyone’s got to know that.”
If the 49ers have a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon, and have added a big edge rusher near the top of the draft, it’s safe to say we should expect this team to be better earlier. There will still be road bumps along the way, but expectations will rightfully be that much higher as we see this team coming together down the stretch. I’m guessing the fan confidence poll could be near 100 percent heading into Week 1 next year.