After a dominant performance on Monday Night Football, questions arose about whether this year’s secondary is the best Kyle Shanahan has had in his 5+ year tenure in San Francisco. Yesterday, those questions reached Shanahan himself.
“Yeah, I believe it has the opportunity to be. I think, at this time, with just how well we’re covering on the outside. How nice our safeties have played together, having the depth of getting Jimmie back, hopefully getting Jason Verrett in there and [Deommodore Lenoir] here these last couple weeks has really stepped it up too, so I’m not going to say we’re there yet, but I do believe that we have that opportunity to be in. I expect us to be before it’s said and done.”
Right now, I think most would agree that the secondary in 2019 was the best Shanahan has had to this point. So let’s take a way-too-early look at how it compares to this year’s squad.
We have a long way to go before we can get a definitive answer, but clearly, the comparison shows this is a conversation worth having. Even Kyle Shanahan was willing to wade into those waters tells you how good he thinks this year’s group can be.
Naysayers might point out that the 49ers haven’t faced that most challenging quartet of quarterbacks so far this year in Justin Fields, Geno Smith, Russell Wilson, and Matthew Stafford, but they’re far from the bottom of the barrel in the NFL.
Also, passing yards and touchdowns have never been easier to come by in the history of the NFL, so putting up these kinds of numbers against anyone is pretty damn impressive. The bigger test is coming later this year with games against Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady.
The addition of Jimmie Ward will make this unit even stronger than it is now, not to mention deeper. Jason Verrett could be another potential boon to the secondary, but he’ll have to show that he’s recovered from another devastating injury and is ready to stay on the field for an extended period of time. If he is and he can, great. Welcome aboard.
Fortunately for the 49ers, they’ve proven they don’t need to depend on him like they tried to do in 2021. As Levin Black said on the Gold Standard podcast last week, “It’s okay, Josh Norman, you can stay retired.”
Living up the legacy of someone else is always a difficult task. While there may be 13 games left in the season, the 2022 secondary has already shown it’s capable of rising to the level of 2019’s Super Bowl team. The only question is, will they stay there?
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