Kyle Shanahan has witnessed how extreme the pendulum can swing in both directions during his time as the 49ers' head coach. The 2019 season seemed as close as it gets to a fairytale from a football perspective.
Opposing offenses were fortunate to get a pass off without the quarterback getting hit let alone finding their way to the end zone. Defenses couldn't handle the team speed, and a veteran wide receiver was the necessary boost to make it to the promised land.
After a mind-numbing finish in the Super Bowl, the Niners missed the playoffs in 2020. The team suffered from the third-highest adjusted games lost since 2001 due to injury. Think about that for a second. With two decades worth of data, only a pair of teams suffered more injuries than the Nick Mullens-led 49ers.
For those of you that blocked 2020 from your memories, phrases like "no way C.J. Beathard is this bad" were uttered weekly. A remarkable stat from that season was San Francisco finishing 6-10 with a -14 point differential. For reference, the Browns finished 11-5 that season with a -11 point differential.
Josh Allen turned into Thor on Monday Night football in a 34-24 dominant win where the score wasn't as close as the game. Kentavius Street and Dion Jordan played half of the snaps along the defensive line, while Colton McKivitz, Jeff Wilson, Jordan Reed, and Ross Dwelley all played at least 44% of the snaps on offense.
In a nationally televised game. This is who the 49ers were trotting onto the field. Looking back at the box scores, it's easy to understand how so many games were decided by double digits or more. When you're looking at all of the players who missed extensive action, that's why the headline's question is debatable.
Acknowledging this will turn into a results-based conversation; that's not the intent. For example, the 2019 49ers that made the Super Bowl were leaps and bounds better than the 2021 NFC Championship version.
Look at the starting cornerbacks on both rosters throughout the season. Think about the difference in the running game with Raheem Mostert. Replace Arden Key with Dee Ford in the playoffs.
The offense struggled in both playoff runs, but everything was easier in 2019. This past season, it felt like the Niners were more fortunate and lucky than consistently good in areas of the field that are vital for success. In 2019, even when the offense sputtered on a drive or two, it never felt like they wouldn't get the job done, even in the season's final game.
The in-game win probability for the '19 Niners was always in their favor. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this past season. It took minor miracles to make the playoffs and beat the Packers this past season.
That shows you how difficult it is to get to and win the Super Bowl. Even in a near-flawless season, the 49ers fell short. It also paints the picture of how challenging it is to get back to the top the next year.
So, with all of that information in mind, knowing this isn't as much of a results-based question as it is understanding the grueling year-to-year grind of the NFL, which season was more of an anomaly for the 49ers? Was it 2019, where seemingly everything went right? Or 2020, where Murphy's Law applied, effectively ending the season before it started?
Which season was a bigger anomaly for the 49ers?
This poll is closed