Just when you think there might not be a ton going on in the world of the 49ers, we get the annual “State of the Franchise” event, which was held last night. Of course, the uniform unveiling was obviously the biggest news, but if you didn’t get a chance to watch things for yourself, here are a couple of things that jumped out to me after watching the entire offering.
Week 3 against the Packers is going to be incredible
While there are still plenty of variables between now and September 16th, consider the potential scene:
- Home opener
- Sunday Night Football
- It’ll be the first time fans will be back in Levi’s for a real game since the NFC title game in 2019, and they’re playing the Packers again
- Red 1994 throwback unis
Levi’s is going to be a hornet’s nest that night for sure, and it’s entirely possible that the Packers won’t have their starting quarterback who threw 48 touchdowns last season.
Speaking of QBs, you never know, that could also be the first regular-season home start for a certain rookie signal-caller...
(BTW, Levin and I dedicated today’s Niners Nation Gold Standard Podcast to everything you need to know about what went on last night. Check it out below.)
The team isn’t backing away from high expectations
KP and Akash might have tried to lower expectations on Wednesday, but Kyle and John weren’t having it.
“We have the chance to do anything that we want,” Shanahan said, “That’s all you can ask for. Now there’s a hell of a lot of work ahead of that, and that starts with every single person in our building.”
John Lynch echoed those comments. “I think we’ve improved. We’ve improved our depth. There’s always attrition... but I do think we’re better. That gives you an opportunity that gives you a chance. Now it is what we make it...I do believe good things are coming.”
This might not seem earth-shattering because the entire State of the Franchise event is a glorified pep rally, but you don’t usually see regimes with a losing record after four years embrace such lofty expectations.
One advantage the 2021 49ers will have over last year’s team
Normally I wouldn’t have flagged this because it seems obvious, but Kyle Shanahan specifically mentioned the benefit of in-person OTAs during the event last night:
“When you miss practicing football, it takes a little bit of your edge away. The type of people we bring in here are guys that don’t have a problem working. They want to work. It’s kind of tough to work at football without playing football...It allows us to get better at what we do. It was very tough when [during] quarantine we couldn’t do that. I feel that’s an advantage we have over a lot of teams. We’re not exactly just what our roster says because you don’t know what our roster is going to be because we’re improving all the time. We practice, we work, we’re deliberate in what we do and we challenge each other...I feel like we got more work done here than anyone I know about in the league.”
Obviously, it’s impossible to know whether the 49ers got more done than any other team, but it is possible that San Francisco was hurt more by the COVID protocols than other teams.
It’s no secret that Kyle Shanahan runs one of the most complicated systems in the league. In order to function at maximum efficiency, everyone (especially the offensive line) needs to be perfectly in sync with one another. It’s hard to do that when you’re trying to gain that cohesion during the regular season as opposed to the normal offseason program. As George Kittle himself said last night, the offense never got any momentum going last year, in part because they never really got in sync.
While every team has high hopes in July, there are many reasons to be more optimistic about this year’s 49ers team. Even with a month to go before training camp, just seeing everyone last night got more excited for the 2021 season to arrive.