Sometimes in life, a little research can crystalize things you might already know. For example, we all know a billion is more than a million. We might not realize, however, that a million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. So on today’s Gold Standard podcast, I tried to blow Levin Black’s mind with five facts that I learned from Warren Sharp’s 2022 football preview.
The 49ers' Front Seven Is Awesome
Last year, the Niners got pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 25.8% of all opponent dropbacks. That is insane. That’s three-step drops, seven-step drops, everything. Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead were game-wreckers on defense, and they could be even better this year. What shocked me in a different way was that that pressure rate was only the fifth best in the league. I would never have guessed four teams got quick pressure at a better rate than San Francisco.
How the West Wasn’t Won
We all know the success that the 49ers have had against the Rams in the regular season recently. Over the last three years, San Francisco is 6-0 against LA. Unfortunately, in that same time span, they’re just 4-8 against everyone else in the division. We all remember beating the Seahawks at the one-yard line in 2019, but sadly that’s the only win against Seattle the Niners have had in the last three years. When it comes to the Cardinals, getting swept in 2021 drops the record against them to just 3-3 in that span. If Trey Lance is going to lead the team to a division title in 2022, he’s got to do better against the NFC West.
So Close And Yet So Far
Over the last three years, the 49ers have played in 26 one-score games. Their record in those games, however, is just 13-13. Last year, the Niners played in 10 one-score games and also split those down the middle with five wins and five losses. One of the big questions for Trey Lance is how well he can operate the two-minute offense since he almost never had to do it in his limited action at North Dakota State. In a league designed to keep games close, Lance will have to pick that part of the game up quickly if he’s going to succeed.
No Luck But Bad Luck
Injuries will always be a part of football, but things have somehow been particularly bad for the 49ers for half a decade. When Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach in 2017, the Niners were the 10th most injured team in the league. Little did we know that would be the least injured squad in his tenure.
Here’s how the injuries have broken down in the Kyle Shanahan era:
2017: 10th most injured team in the league
2018: 4th most injured team in the league
2019: 6th most injured team in the league
2020: Most injured team in the league
2021: 3rd most injured team in the league
Just to twist the knife a little deeper, here’s how the Rams have fared over that same time period:
2017: Least injured team in the league
2018: 4th least injured team in the league
2019: 10th least injured team in the league
2020: 2nd least injured team in the league
2021: 5th least injured team in the league
How does this keep happening?! If the 49ers have even league-average injury luck this year, they’ll be the healthiest they’ve ever been under Kyle Shanahan - by a large amount.
The Gang’s (Not) All Here
Thanks to the injury to Raheem Mostert in Week 1, there were zero instances last season where the team’s QB1, RB1, TE1, WR1, and WR2 played the entire game.
Even taking Mostert out of the equation doesn’t change the picture much. Do you know how many times Jimmy Garoppolo, Elijah Mitchell, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk played together last year? Six. The “new” offense with Mitchell in for Mostert only played together in Weeks 1, 2, 9, 10, 12, and 18.
The 49ers went 5-1 in those games.
So, there you have it. Hopefully, at least one of those blew your mind. Levin and I also discussed how much we buy into Trey Lance’s supposed arm fatigue on today’s show, as well as listened to Steve Young explain why he wants to keep working with Trey Lance. You should listen. Please.