Storylines. Besides the clear spirit of competition and the modern day gladiators football brings us, the storylines keep it going. The Jim Harbaugh/Trent Baalke feud from 2015 was one of the greatest and may have been the story of the season for the NFL. The story of Eric Berry overcoming cancer with the Kansas City Chiefs is something heartwarming and always good to read again and again.
The 49ers will have some good storylines in 2019. For one, is the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch partnership truly working? Thanks to some reports, that will be something we’ll be keeping an eye on whether it’s true or untrue. Or is Jerick McKinnon’s career going to be getting elevated after coming back from an ACL tear?
ESPN put together the stories of the season for each NFL team and 49ers blogger Nick Wagoner thinks the story will surround Jimmy Garoppolo.
Is Jimmy Garoppolothe franchise quarterback the Niners believe he is?
Coming off a torn ACL that limited him to three games in 2018,
Garoppolois still something of an unknown commodity with just 10 NFL starts. The 49ers are payingGaroppololike the franchise centerpiece but still don’t know if he’s the guy who can elevate the team back to playoff contention -- and now he’s bouncing back from a serious knee injury. The Niners have plenty of question marks on the roster, but how Garoppolo fares in his first full season as a starter is of paramount importance -- now and for the future.
This is going to be huge. Garoppolo crashed and burned in training camp for 2018 and while not anywhere near awful, had a few head scratching decisions. He’s only played 10 games so this can be the season that defines him. Well, if he can make it through 16 games.
I think the bigger story is still a question and that’s if the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch partnership will work. This has stakes far beyond the 49ers. If the 49ers can make a tear in the league and into the playoffs, it will give a good barometer of how long it should take an NFL team to get things turned around with a less than stellar roster. Not everyone is Jim Harbaugh walking into an underachieving 49ers squad or Bill Belichick getting the New England Patriots with Drew Bledsoe. The 49ers started things with the great roster purge of 2017 cleaning Trent Baalke’s decisions out of the building. They’ve gone through three offseasons of drafts and free agencies and now are looking to be competitive. If it takes a team three years to do such a thing, it’s something teams will look to rather than evaluate a head coach after a terrible first year doesn’t go well (which the 49ers did for Chip Kelly and Jim Tomsula, but who’s keeping track?). The time it takes to turn a roster around is not just an overnight process.
It also will emphasize how important it is that a general manager and head coach working together is in the scheme of things. In the past, egos can get in the way or friction from one side or the other causes more drama. If this works, it can be a good point to make for NFL coaching staffs and front offices on how important being in sync with visions is for the better of the franchise. This was Baalke’s biggest problem, he wanted his team his way and the coaches to deal with it and was less interested in what a coach desired or needed to run their system. This method could have made coaches reluctant to come to San Francisco and also contributed to his firing.
It also would prove that the six-year contracts to both Shanahan and Lynch were justified, something that had a lot of naysayers in the aftermath of the signing. Remember how everyone was wondering how this partnership would work?
What do you think the story of the season for the 49ers will be?