The season is over
Before it was announced that Jimmy Garoppolo or Raheem Mostert was out for the second half, our mentions on Twitter were a disaster. Fans were ready to pull the plug on the season after six quarters. This year was never going to be as easy as 2019 was for the Niners. With that said, the football gods have more than overcorrected with the numerous injuries the team has already suffered.
We are going to find out how the 49ers deal with adversity and how resilient they are. I’d expect to see a flurry of roster moves this week. It’s unlikely that whoever is brought in this week as a free agent will make a significant difference. We’re likely looking at Kerry Hyder Jr. receiving the bulk of the snaps at edge rusher as the season goes on. The players we thought would serve as quality depth pieces will now be asked to start and play crucial roles. If anything, this will force Robert Saleh to come out of his shell and become more aggressive as a play-caller.
We’ll see how many games Jimmy Garoppolo misses as a starter. It’s safe to assume he’ll miss Week 3 against the Giants. After that, it’s all about how quickly Jimmy G can recover. If we found out that Garoppolo were to miss the remainder of the season, I’d be leading the “sign Colin Kaepernick” train. I’d expect Garoppolo to be out a month, at most.
I will not pretend that Nick Mullens is anywhere near the level of talent as Garoppolo. That’s who will start, though. You’re not going to sign a quarterback off the street once the season has started. Not for an interim period, anyway. During Week 1, fans wanted the team to put Mullens in the game as Jimmy G struggled in the fourth quarter. Well, you’ll get your wish now. Mullens shouldn’t be judged based on one half of football when he came in off the bench without any practice reps. Mullens went 8 for 11 for 71 yards and an interception. However, he took two sacks and looked like a statue in the pocket. Mullens struggled mightily during training camp as a decision-maker. I’m fascinated to see how Mullens looks with a week of preparation, and how Kyle Shanahan uses Mullens with a much better supporting cast than when Mullens was a starter a couple of seasons ago.
The 49ers need to trade for an edge rusher
Who are they going to trade for? After two weeks of the season, you’re not going to find a team willing to give up a quality pass rusher. That position sure isn’t growing on trees. The likelihood of landing Ziggy Ansah seems much more likely than a splash trade.
I’ve seen fans ask about Clay Matthews, but I’m not sure he has much left in the tank. Would the team like Washington be willing to unload on a veteran pass rusher such as Ryan Kerrigan? They are young upfront, and Kerrigan is a sub-package player at this point. That would mean Kyle Shanahan would have to deal with Washington again, though. The Bengals aren’t expected to compete this year. Taking advantage of teams like Cincy, who aren’t supposed to win, could be something the team looks into. Carl Lawson is a part-time pass rusher that doesn’t start. He’s young and has upside. Lawson tore his ACL in 2018 and battled a hamstring injury last year, which has affected his athletic ability. Lawson still has plenty of juice, and he’s shown that early this season. I wouldn’t get my hopes in thinking a team would trade a pass rusher two weeks into the season as the options are slim.
Ansah, Jabaal Sheard, Cameron Wake, and Terrell Suggs all feel like veterans the team will look to bring in this week. Shoot, sign two of those names, and they could be potential upgrades over Dion Jordan, who did not impress during training camp and, despite the injury to Ford, was still not promoted from the practice squad.
The schedule will make life easier on the 49ers
San Francisco will face the Giants, Eagles, Dolphins, and the Rams. The first three are all 0-2. San Francisco would be happy to split those games and come away with a 4-3 record after seven games. The 49ers opened up as four-point favorites against New York for Week 3. Many fans say this next stretch of games will be “easy” for the Niners, but I don’t believe that’s the case. I don’t think the team will have a losing record, and it’s more realistic that they finish 3-1 instead of splitting the four games, but there will be nothing easy about winning in the NFL with a backup quarterback.
The Giants have lost both games, but they’ve also played both opponents tough. Carson Wentz looks awful, but Philadelphia seems to find a way to stay in every game. They also have a very good pass rush as well as some speed at receiver. The Dolphins defense will give the 49ers offense trouble. They’re not struggling to move the ball on offense, either. Their lack of pass rush is the one reason I believe the 49ers have the leg-up in that matchup, but Miami will be a tough opponent. Then there are the Rams, who are a divisional opponent that is undefeated.
Knowing how many injuries the 49ers have, what makes you believe that any game where Adam Gase isn’t a head coach will be easy?