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Golden Nuggets: Why the 49ers could enjoy a long run atop the NFC

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Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Sunday, July 19, 2020

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Happy Sunday. Let’s get right into some San Francisco 49ers links from the weekend.

49ers could benefit from Saints, Eagles and Cowboys’ salary cap issues

While the 49ers certainly will feel a squeeze if the cap drops, they’re far better prepared. They currently have $170 million in cap liabilities for 2021, and while several key players are due for free agency, the 49ers can create additional space by cutting players who arguably aren’t essential to their future success.

The Cowboys, Saints and Eagles — not to mention the Bucs and Seattle Seahawks — certainly appear capable of competing with the 49ers in 2020. But next season, the herd should thin, and while new threats surely will emerge, San Francisco has a far better chance of remaining atop the conference than most of the other current NFC contenders.

Phil Simms calls 49ers best NFL team, says Jimmy Garoppolo can improve

“I’ll say it probably on the first Sunday of the NFL Today,” Simms told 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto and Kolsky” show on Thursday. “I think the 49ers are the best team in football, and the only criticism I will have, is to let the quarterback stay in the rhythm of game, and attack the sidelines a little more.

“That would be the only thing, lot of passes over the middle. The Chiefs, at the end of that game, were daring them to throw it outside.”

When you take a look at how Garoppolo’s passer rating looks in each section of the field, Simms’ appraisal seems somewhat fair. When throwing between 10 and 20 yards in the right third of the field, Garoppolo’s passer rating was just 49.1, well below the league average of 78.6 for that spot. Same goes for the right third behind the line of scrimmage, where Jimmy G has a 74.6 passer rating, compared to an 87.3 league average.

He also was just below average on throws 10 to 20 yards down the field on the left third of the field. Those throws often are the most difficult for quarterbacks to make, as balls tend to be floated and more easily intercepted if underthrown to the sidelines.

But when looking at Garoppolo’s chart, there also is a lot of green where Garoppolo’s passer rating was well above the league average. In fact, seven of the 12 sections of the field tracked by Next Gen Stats show Garoppolo were above average.

Can Nick Bosa-led 49ers’ first-round front thrive once more?

The Nick Bosa-led band of chaos makers tallied 45 sacks – including their run to the Super Bowl – last season to set a single-season record for the most sacks by a collection of first-round picks, according to NFL Research. But after a noticeable regression down the stretch for the 49ers defense and the loss of Buckner, the question for the reigning NFC champions lingers as to whether San Francisco’s No. 1 pass defense can continue to excel in 2020?

The talent is present, but being able to sustain stellar play will be a lingering quandary in more ways than one. For starters comes the question about the Super Bowl hangover and the 49ers’ recovering to achieve the form that led them to a 13-3 season. There’s also the matter of San Francisco allowing 12.8 points and 241 yards per game along with 3.8 sacks through Week 9, but then allowing 26 points, 322.6 yards and tallying just 2.3 sacks the remainder of the regular season.

2020 is crucial season for 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey

Staley’s retirement this offseason, followed by the team’s trade for former Washington Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, suggested the Niners aren’t quite ready to move the 25-year-old McGlinchey over to protect quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s blind side.

It’s possible this is an indictment against McGlinchey. Or, perhaps, head coach Kyle Shanahan simply wants to keep McGlinchey in a place he can anchor for years to come without having to mirror his pro-level efforts.

It could be indicative of the two additional penalties (seven in total) McGlinchey was hit with over the course of the season. But it’s fair to wonder if McGlinchey changing some technique to hone his pass-blocking skills cut into his abilities as a run blocker a bit.

Over the last two seasons regardless, McGlinchey has surrendered a total of 67 pressures, which isn’t great. It’s very possible this is the kind of result McGlinchey will simply produce on a year-to-year basis.