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Let’s Argue: The 49ers are better off losing out than sneaking into the playoffs

We argue that, and four other of your most unpopular opinions.

Buffalo Bills v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We are back with another week of “Let’s Argue.” Whether the 49ers win or lose, the responses are entertaining. Without further ado, let’s get into this week’s most unpopular opinion about the Niners.

Losing out is better for the 49ers in the long term than winning out and possibly sneaking into the playoffs at 9-7. There, I said it, and I believe it. - Larry

Mr. Krueger from KNBR has spoken, and I can't entirely agree. On the surface, it makes sense if you’re rooting for the best outcome for the franchise. Losing out promises a better draft pick, which gives you a better chance at adding talent. Not just in the first round, but throughout the NFL Draft. That line of thinking ignores Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, and Brandon Aiyuk being drafted after Henry Ruggs. It ignores Antoine Winfield Jr. being the fourth safety drafted. We see it every year in the NFL Draft. There is talent all over. It’s on you to find it.

It also ignores how aggressive this front office has been since John Lynch has taken over. There have been countless trades. Lynch has shown that he’s going to make a trade if he feels like it will improve the 49ers.

Finally, if the 49ers made the playoffs this season, after everything this team has gone through, that’d positively impact the psyche of the team, and I imagine it’d give them even more confidence. “If we can make the playoffs with half our roster, then the expectation should be that the success of 2019 is our goal every year.” The players and coaches are going to do any and everything it takes to win. That’s how they’re wired. Making the playoffs only benefits San Francisco.

The biggest and most detrimental injury that has ruined this year was Richburg’s. And the choice to not do anything about it in the offseason has led to more issues than anything else. - Chris

I agree that the team should have had a backup plan for Richburg, especially once he had a setback this offseason on top of his original injury. He’s one of the top-10 centers in the NFL, and the 49ers have missed Richburg in pass protection.

With that said, the most detrimental injury has been the 49ers losing their best player, Nick Bosa. Robert Saleh called plays last season in a way where he expected to pass rush to get home. Why? Because Bosa has that big of an impact. This year, Saleh has completely changed how he calls plays and has leaned more on coverage than pass rush.

With no Bosa, Arik Armstead is now your top guy. The rookie you hoped you could bring along slowly is now your second guy. As we’ve seen, the pass rush hasn’t been there outside of hustle sacks and plays where the quarterback runs into pressure.

I love Richburg, but the answer is Bosa.

Jimmie Ward is a top 5 safety in the league. Ward and Tartt are one of the best safety tandems in the league. - 49ers Arks

You’re 2/2, 49ers Arks. This year's top safeties are Budda Baker, Justin Simmons, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harrison Smith, Jessie Bates, and I’d argue a few other names. Ward is one of them and should be mentioned. The biggest difference between Ward and a guy like Simmons and Bates is that Ward doesn’t leave his cornerbacks out to dry by jumping underneath routes. I’ve seen a handful of times from the former two this season.

Ward is a luxury. Ward can shut down Cooper Kupp on one play, then play the “post” safety on another, and take away a crossing route the following play. Ward and Tartt are a tremendous duo that flies under because of health and the lack of turnovers. On a down-to-down basis, I’ll take Ward as one of the first five safeties in the NFL without hesitation. If Tartt were healthy, he’d be right up there as well.

Both have few weaknesses that allow you to do so much as a play-caller. Both players also cover up a lot as far as fitting the run and doing some of the hidden things that the casual fan may not see. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t gotten a chance to see both healthy, but it wasn’t a coincidence that the 49ers had a historic pass defense in 2019 when both were healthy. They’re that good.

Coaching has been more or less top-10 all season, on all sides of the ball. - Mr. Womptastic

Excellent name, and that’s an easy way for your opinion to be selected. The coaching has been excellent all season. We have to keep in mind that there are several backups on the field. It’s a testament that the 49ers have remained competitive this season.

On Monday night, Robert Saleh threw the kitchen sink at the Bills. He tried different coverages, blitz packages, single-high, and two-high safety looks. You name it; he tried it. Buffalo was better. It’s that simple. They made more plays than the 49ers did.

Offensively, Kyle Shanahan adjusted well. The Bills played a wide-9 front to prevent the Niners from running outside. When the offense uses play-action against these fronts, the tight end has to block an edge rusher. Ross Dwelley was beaten on the first play-action pass, so on the second throw, Shanahan uses two tight ends to block the Bills defender. The first play went for an incompletion as Mullens was under pressure. The second went for a gain of 20 yards.

The coaches call the plays and put players in a position to succeed. The players haven’t executed this season, and we’ve seen the results play out on the field. The mistakes have been endless, and it’s to the point where I’m not sure what fans expect the coaches to do. We can nitpick here and there, but the coaching staff has been excellent this season with the cards they were dealt with.

We r much better then our record shows - Dunn

I’d argue the 49ers record is inflated as the team knows the Rams like the back of their hand, and two other wins came against a Giants team who was still figuring themselves out under a new coach and an 0-11 Jets team. The Patriots look like the slowest team in the NFL with no offensive weapons.

When San Francisco has played a talented team outside of the Rams, they’ve lost by double-digits. That was the case, no matter who was under center. Injuries have limited how effective this team could be, but the quarterbacks have been outplayed in each matchup. This season has to be a wake-up call for Shanahan at the quarterback position.

As far as the 49ers record goes, they are who we thought they were.