It is not often I will look back at the 2017 49ers and hope for a mirror of the organizations play. The team finished 6-10 riding a hot 5-game winning streak to end the season and setting up hopes that would be dashed by week 3 of 2018. However, there are 3 players performances from that year that if replicated could decide our 2019 season.
The first and easiest to remember would be Jimmy Garoppolo’s break out performance down the stretch. This may also be the least necessary of the three. Kyle Shanahan consistently proves his ability to create mismatches and put points on the board. BDN came in and was able to score points. This is what Shanahan does, why he was brought here, and what he will always provide. I am not discounting the importance of Garoppolo as this is a QB driven league and we need him to jump into the top echelon. I just realize that if we have a couple other players perform at their 2017 level we will be very formidable on the other side of the ball.
The first of those two players is Akhello Witherspoon. We signed free agent Jason Verrett but we all know his injury history. Last year, PFF rated out Witherspoon to a 44.9 grade. He was part of a secondary that seemed unable to stop any passes from occurring. It was also one of the few spots we felt comfortable about last offseason. And why was this?.... because in 2017 Witherspoon graded out as an 81.1. In 9 games started that year, he caused 3 turnovers (2 Ints, 1 FF) and defended another 7 balls. Last year, he accounted for 0 turnovers and 4 passes defended in 12 starts. His resurgence to his 2017 level with our increased pass rush would have our cornerback position secure. The second on the list is Adrian Colbert.
Wow, Colbert was bad last year. I thought about creating a fanpost on his worst five angles taken. The numbers on him show exactly what we saw too. His PFF grade was 31.7 ranking him as the 91st best safety in the NFL. This fell by behind five of his teammates. However, this was just one year away from his 77.6 grade where he won the 49ers Thomas Herrion Memorial Award which is given to the rookie who took advantage of their opportunity and turned their dream into reality. I am not blind or delusional. I do not believe that Colbert was ever a top level safety but just a return to 2017 form would highly strengthen this secondary. Having Jimmy “Hospital” Ward down with injury again, it is the time for Colbert to show he is ready to be a productive part of this defense again.
I will never hope for a 2017 season again. I will however hope for a return of the 2017 defensive rookies that gave us excitement. This season will depend on each of them having a third-year resurgence. I think each is ready to show us that desire.
On to the links.....
3 storylines to watch during Week 2 of 49ers’ 2019 OTAs (Peter Panacy)
49ers’ 2019 ‘Who Is?’ series: DB Antone Exum (Peter Panacy)
49ers should sign Tre Boston with Jimmy Ward out (Peter Panacy)
Ranking 49ers draft picks by Year 1 impact (Kyle Madson)
San Francisco 49ers: Shocking stat about TE George Kittle (Sayre Bedinger)
San Francisco 49ers: Not-so-early record prediction and breakdown (Deion Higginbotham)