The San Francisco 49ers are ready to take their place among the upper-echelon NFL teams during the 2021 season. They dealt with an unprecedented amount of injuries in 2020 and finished last in the NFC West with a 6-10 record.
Some pundits may overlook the 49ers going into next season, but they definitely shouldn't. When healthy, the Niners have one of the best rosters in the league. Led by George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Trent Williams, the 49ers have four of the best overall players in the NFL.
Kittle — who has been doing regular media appearances during the offseason — joined the Good Morning Football crew for a segment and was asked why the media shouldn’t overlook the 49ers going into next season.
“I don’t know if you guys saw this, but Nick Bosa is coming back, and we re-signed Trent Williams,” Kittle said. “Those two guys are pretty good at football, from what I remember. They’re pretty decent. And on the opposite side of Nick Bosa, you’ve got Dee Ford, you’ve got Arik Armstead.”
Bosa’s return will be a game-changer for the 49ers’ defense. He’s one of the best pass-rushers in the league and should be dominant again next season. Kittle was befuddled that Bosa wasn’t included in ESPN’s list of the top 10 pass-rushers in the NFL.
“People tend to forget when you take a year off, but it is what it is,” Kittle said.
Kittle loves what he sees from the 49ers’ defense. Despite missing Bosa, Dee Ford, and several other key parts last season, the unit finished fifth in total yards allowed. Kittle believes the 49ers have enough talent on both sides of the ball to make a return trip to the Super Bowl.
“We bring back our All-Pro linebacker, Fred Warner,” Kittle said. “The two young guys outside of him, who have been learning it, had great OTAs. And they’re bringing back four starters in the secondary, five starters in the secondary. Our defense is scary.
“It was shown in the Super Bowl, if you can’t move the ball against the defense, you can’t put up points, and defense wins championships. At the end of the day, like I said, we signed Trent Williams back, we’re got (Raheem Mostert), the surfer, back in the backfield, and we’ve got some decent wide receivers.
“And I think we have an OK tight end, so I think we’re just going to roll with it, and we’re just going to have some fun with it. I think Shanahan’s just going to enjoy playing with all the toys that he’s got.”
As far as the QB situation goes, Kittle feels that the team is in a good position. He’s close friends with incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo and loves what he has seen from Jimmy G during the offseason workouts.
“I know there was a story that came out that Jimmy Garoppolo was one of the first guys to text Trey Lance,” Kittle said. “That’s just the type of guy that Jimmy is. He’s not going to say away from adversity, shy away from a draft pick. He has a fire lit under him, and he’s excited to roll.
“I know Coach Shanahan said it; I think I said it too. I think Jimmy played one of his best OTAs that I’ve seen. He was just slinging it left and right, so that was fun to see.”
Garoppolo is slated to be the team’s starter for Week 1, but that could change if Lance outplays the veteran during training camp. Nevertheless, Kittle believes the 49ers are in great shape at the most important position in the game with both QBs on the roster.
Although Kittle knows his time with Garoppolo is likely limited, given the assets the 49ers surrendered to move up to No. 3 to pick Lance, but he is excited to see how the rookie develops in the coming years.
“I think Trey has all the attributes to be a very good, very special quarterback. He’s a freak athlete. I think, really, one of my favorite things about him right now, just as a rookie, is that he takes risks.
He doesn’t complete all the passes that he throws, but he’s trying to fit into those small windows, and he’s just trying to throw it as hard as he can to get it to that wide receiver, going for him in that second window. And I think that’s really fun, just to see a guy take risks, especially when he just turned 21 years old and now just buy me some Bud Light, finally. But it is what it is.
I’m just excited to see his progress throughout training camp. And he’s an eager guy who wants to learn, and I know that when you’re in a room with Coach Shanahan, kind of the mastermind, he’s going to learn a lot. So, I think he’s definitely in the right spot.”
The 49ers won’t conduct any more on-field team workouts until late next month when training camp begins.