NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that there is a checklist for building a championship foundation in today’s NFL. You need a quarterback, which goes without saying. You need two pass rushers, three offensive and playmakers, and three quality offensive linemen. If your team has that, they’ve built the foundation. So, thinking about it, do the San Francisco 49ers have that? Let’s talk through it.
Good time to revisit:— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 22, 2019
Checklist for building a championship foundation in today's NFL
Role/Number of players
Pass rusher (2)
Off Playmaker (3)
Def Playmaker (3)
Quality OL (3)
Which teams hit every mark?
There is nothing more that we can say about Jimmy Garoppolo this week that we haven’t already said. We’ll have a much better idea who Garoppolo is as a quarterback four months from now. Most of his processes are correct, which is why his win/loss record is so good. Will that carry into 2019? We’ll know soon enough.
The most significant area of improvement for the 49ers has been their pass rush. Even without DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford, and Nick Bosa playing, the defensive line has been continuously in the offense’s backfield through two preseason games. Those three are legitimate pass rushers. I know Bosa hasn’t played a game, and his status is up in the air for Week 1. The first game he plays more than 40 snaps, he will get a sack. He’s good, and there’s no reason to pretend otherwise.
I think what makes this unit potentially dangerous is that the “other” guys are coming through and making plays. It’ll make it tough when it comes to roster cuts, but the players they keep will be quality players. The upgrade from the defensive line from the end of last season to now has been substantial, and we’ll notice a difference.
George Kittle. Check. Objectively, he is a legitimate playmaker. After that, it becomes “ask me in December.” Dante Pettis is probably the next playmaker you’d discuss. When a player puts up the levels of efficiency that Pettis did in 2018, to me that screams playmaker. Pettis had 27 receptions, and 19 of them went for first downs, and five for touchdowns. That was all on 40 targets.
Then we get into the likes of Deebo Samuel, the running backs, and the possibility of Trent Taylor. Come December, will there be three no-brainer playmakers on offense? I’m confident in that. There’s too much projection at this point to answer the question with a definitive yes.
Following a season that saw the 49ers defense struggled to generate turnovers, you may not agree with this. The three pass rushers listed above are all playmakers in my book. If you’re not ready to give that title to Bosa yet, I understand. Richard Sherman is a playmaker. He has proven that he can play at a high level consistently.
There are plenty of “possibles.” Fred Warner and Jaquiski Tartt are right on the edge of becoming playmakers. Warner needs more experience, while Tartt needs to stay healthy. I think we all would agree that the 49ers finally have three playmakers on this side of the ball.
He hasn’t don’t it to the level of Sherman, but Weston Richburg has been good every year he’s been in the NFL when he’s been healthy. If your lone exposure to Richburg was 2018, you’re going to scoff at that statement, which is understandable. Richburg supposedly played through a knee injury that he suffered during Week 4 of the 2018 regular season that prevented him from playing like himself. Kyle Shanahan said that his rehab is going extremely well, and Richburg will return to practice sometime this week.
Joe Staley. Duh.
Mike McGlinchey was a quality lineman as a rookie, which isn’t easy to do. If you can show competence as a rookie, that’s a great sign. McGlinchey will take the next step now that he’s familiar with the speed of NFL pass rushers.
Using Jeremiah’s foundation checklist, how far away do you think the 49ers are?