The San Francisco 49ers had an awful, awful 2018. Jerick McKinnon going down before the season began proper was a bad sign and Jimmy Garoppolo tearing his ACL in Week 3 pretty much stuck a fork in everything before it even got started. .
Well the 49ers are getting healthy, and the excuses are getting old. It was understandable how the 49ers played so bad in some games, but now with two seasons under his belt, Kyle Shanahan has to take them to the next level. The question now is what do we really need for the ship to keep sailing?
The 49ers are almost set with their roster and have filled necessary holes. What they need now is some time to gel. The defensive line in particular has a chance to be one of the best in football in a year or two.
So what happens? What is good enough for 2019?
Less than eight wins
Last year, we’d have said it was a rebuilding season, that the 49ers were just turning the corner. It’s not that the 49ers were losing, it was how they were losing. If you look at the losses in Chip Kelly/Jim Tomsula’s tenures, the 49ers looked lost in all phases of the game. With Shanahan, they lose and know how they lost, plus they play hard until the end.
The 49ers have done more rebuilding where we can’t use that excuse anymore. Less than seven wins is a disturbing finish and while it won’t mean the end of John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan, there will be some changes at the end of the season. Perhaps defensive coordinator Robert Saleh gets shown the door, maybe they make a few adjustments to scouting. Whatever happens, Shanahan’s seat would definitely be getting warm with another four-win season. Another finish like this wouldn’t make him on the hot seat and walking on eggshells, but there would definitely be some annoyed stares at him as he walks the halls of the building.
If the 49ers finish at .500, consider it progress. They haven’t been able to get there in years and have a very, very young team at their disposal. Given the competition in the NFC West and the NFC at large, as well as that brutal schedule the NFL served to them, 8-8 would be an achievement and an indication things are going in the right direction. If this was a team with a large amount of pieces already here when Shanahan arrived, 8-8 would be atrocious. The fact is, the entire roster lackluster when the current staff arrived and they had to overturn just about everything but four or five players. You simply cannot compete in a year or two when you are doing that, it takes time.
Nine to 10 wins
This could happen. I predicted the 49ers would win nine games when the schedule came out and I think it’s pretty fair to put them in this range. If they pull this off, they would have pull off wins against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams and weather the storm against some road games including the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, and Washington.
11 wins or more
This happens, Niners Nation just might run out of oxygen. If the 49ers pull off 11 wins, they not only capitalized on catastrophe in the NFL, but they will then have huge expectations for 2020.
The 49ers are not a 12-win team yet, but if the injury bug has a severe outbreak in the NFL, they could be right there to take advantage. If they get there, they would most likely have won the NFC West and would be hosting a playoff game, or two. Be careful of this though, if the 49ers were to win this and then struggle in 2020, it may be more catastrophic for Kyle Shanahan’s staff because expectations would go through the roof and excuses would be left at the door.
What’s your realistic expectations (yes, I know half of you are going to say 23-0)? What do you think will be good enough and a sign of progress from the 49ers for 2019?