ESPN ranked each team’s continuity ahead of the 2020 NFL season, and the San Francisco 49ers came in fourth. Here is what 49ers Nick Wagoner had to say:
San Francisco 49ers: 82.6% snaps returning
Offensive snaps returning: 77.3% (17th)
Defensive snaps returning: 88.3% (1st)
Starters returning: 21 of 25 (8 offense, 10 defense, 3 special teams)
Non-coordinator assistants returning: 16 of 18
Coordinators returning: 4 of 4 (Mike McDaniel, run game; Mike LaFleur, pass game; Robert Saleh, DC; Richard Hightower, ST)
Starting QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, 3rd year with 49ers (7th overall)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan, 4th year (23-25)
What it means: The departures of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and receiver Emmanuel Sanders were particularly painful, but the Niners replenished both spots with first-round picks. Perhaps more importantly, the Niners kept all but two coaches from last season, including all of their coordinators, allowing the many players still on the roster to remain in systems they know well and, presumably, improve because of it. “I think us having a lot of the same people in the building this year is going to be good for us, having that chemistry and being familiar with one another,” linebacker Fred Warner said. — Nick Wagoner
Looking at the list, they’re going based on the returning snaps. Even with Buck’s loss, the 49ers return the most snaps played on defense in the NFL. The offense is lower because you lose 88% of Mike Person’s snaps. Sanders played 45%, and Joe Staley played 40% of the snaps in 2019, which sounds low, but Joe did miss a good chunk of games early on. With Matt Breida and Marquise Goodwin, that’s another 25%-ish worth of snaps you lose. Adding Daniel Brunskill into the fold should serve as an upgrade, as will rookie Brandon Aiyuk.
Losing Joe Wood doesn’t help, but the 49ers replaced him with someone that Robert Saleh is familiar with, and that’ll help with continuity and should serve as an easy transition. As Warner said, the chemistry on this team is a big deal, and that is why I think they’ll be better in 2020, even if the record doesn’t reflect it. Last offseason, Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have a chance to throw to Jalen Hurd in the offseason. That changed this offseason. Warner and Kwon Alexander didn’t have the bond they do now. You can say the same with Nick Bosa and the defensive line.
The camaraderie in the locker room is evident, and it’s at every position. When you can trust the person next to you, both on and off the field, we’ve seen that translate into success. That’s what we will see this season.
As for the rest of the NFC West, the Cardinals were tied for 18th as Arizona returned 73.4% of their snaps. The Rams were 24th, returning 70.5% of their snaps. The Seahawks were 26th, returning 68.8% of their snaps.