The San Francisco 49ers are a chic sleeper pick around the NFL this season, and fans are getting excited about their chances. They were not the “offseason champ” when it comes to transactions, but the five-game winning streak to close the season has raised expectations.
The players reported to training camp on Wednesday, and we got some initial media availability from a handful of veterans, along with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. DeForest Buckner, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, and Joe Staley met with the media to talk about the offseason, camp, and 2018 expectations.
Kyle Shanahan joked about the media pushing the storyline, asking them to cut back on it so expectations aren’t too high. But it comes with the territory. And I think most anybody would prefer high expectations to low expectations. They could come up short, but it’s a sign of progress given how the past few years have gone.
The four players were all asked about the expectations and how people are treating it coming into camp. They all offered some of the usual cliches, but there is not much more they can say at this point. Sherman thinks the team has the pieces to make the playoffs, but he and Joe Staley both made it clear they recognized this was still a 6-10 team last season. Yes, they finished strong, but there is plenty of work to do to build on it.
Buckner: “With all the outside noise, I personally block it out. All the noise you hear, whether it’s good or bad, you need a level head, especially on this level.”
Garoppolo: “I think it’s exciting for the fans, it was a good end of the season. It sounds pretty cliche, but it’s a new year. We have new players, every team is different around the league now, so you kind of start from the ground-up. I think we kinda started with that in OTAs, got a good jump on it — but now training camp is here, and we just have to take it one day at a time. I know it sounds very cliched saying that, but that’s the best way to approach it.”
Sherman: “I don’t think anybody’s thinking about last year, or what happened. It was a 6-10 team that didn’t make the playoffs, so the few positives that were from last year, they’re taken and appreciated, but it’s still a 6-10 team at the end of the day … I think that’s the way guys are approaching it. Guys are hungry, and they’re excited to get out there and prove that this is a great team and that we can ball games and consistently win ball games.”
Staley: “The way we finished last season was all positive and everything, but this is a completely new season, with new challenges. I think everybody’s been very focused, and understands that. It’s exciting to be able to build on something positive from last year, and kind of carry it into the offseason, but there’s nobody in that locker room saying we’ve arrived or anything like that. We know we have a ton of work to do. We were a 6-10 football team at the end of last year, and we were happy with the way we finished last year, but that was a completely, in the past. That season’s not on anybody’s mind right now.”