The San Francisco 49ers: Bringing Winning Back to a Storied Franchise

The 49ers are hot this year, but they have taken their bumps and bruises along the way to being one of the best teams in today's NFL.

Anthony Colavito, Sports Editor

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Perhaps the biggest surprise of this NFL season has been the rise of the San Francisco 49ers. After being the team of the 80’s and winning a few Super Bowl titles in the 90’s, the Niners have slowed down since, having only one Super Bowl appearance since 1995, that one being in 2012 when they lost their first Super Bowl in franchise history and Colin Kaepernick had a starting job in the NFL. After a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the 2013 NFC Championship, the Niners went into rebuild mode. After the 2013 season, the 49ers were an absolute train wreck. Since the 2013 season up until last year, the Niners had a 25-55 record. The 2018 season was supposed to be promising, after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded there in the middle of the 2017 season (more on Garoppolo later). But with big offseason moves this past offseason, the Niners are off to a hot 6-0 start.

Jimmy Garoppolo was meant to be the predecessor to Tom Brady in New England. He showed signs of greatness in the 2016 season while Tom Brady was serving a 4 game suspension for DeflateGate. He started against the Cardinals and Dolphins before getting hurt in week 2. In those two games, he threw for 496 yards and 4 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he would suffer a knee injury in that game and would be sidelined the rest of the year. Despite this, things looked great, but Tom Brady showed no signs of slowing down. Coach Bill Belichick decided to trade Jimmy G to the Niners on October 31st, 2017 for a 2nd round draft pick. The Niners were 1-10 going into the Week 13 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Earlier in the week, Garoppolo was named the starting quarterback. He would lead the Niners to win their last 5 games including his first start, helping them finish 6-10. Things were promising for the Niners, until Garoppolo tore his ACL in week 3 of the 2018 season, ending his year. The Niner faithful were starting to lose faith as they finished the 2018 season 4-12. If there was one thing the Niners could take out of that season, it was the rise of the young tight end George Kittle. 

Going into the 2019 season, the Niners were projected to take third in the NFC West just above the Arizona Cardinals. They added Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman, and star pass rusher Dee Ford in the offseason, and also went ahead and drafted Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa with the second pick in the draft. The media doubted Jimmy Garoppolo in the preseason. He didn’t look good in any of the games he played, but they were the first snaps he played since the ACL tear. 

Kicking off the 2019 season with two games on the road, they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals in dominating fashion. Garoppolo threw for 470 yards across those two games and the defense proved to be one of the elite units in the league. The Niners would win their home opener 24-20 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They would go into their bye week sitting at 3-0, and come off their bye week on Monday Night Football against the paper champion Cleveland Browns. The game opened up with a Cleveland failing to score and they gave the ball to the Niners. And on the first play of the drive, running back Matt Breida ran for an 83 yard touchdown to get the fans hyped. The Niners would run away with this game, making Baker Mayfield throw only 100 yards,  two interceptions, and the Niners defense sacked him four times. The Niners would win 31-3 in dominant fashion. The question after this game was, “Are the 49ers a legit team?” This was because they haven’t really played a legit team at this point in the season, all of them having a record below .500. This was until week 6 when they played the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams. The Niners dominated this entire game. They held Jared Goff to just 78 yards passing and sacked him four times. They would win the game 20-7.

The Niners would pick up a few more wins along the way, and they currently sit at 7-0 and are second in the power rankings. Nick Bosa has basically clinched Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he is making his run for Defensive Player of the Year. Jimmy Garoppolo is the front runner for Comeback Player of the Year, alongside Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. And the defense is one of the league’s best. They would be the best defensive unit in the league if it wasn’t for the record setting Patriots defense. They also are in first place in the NFC West right now, and are destined to make a deep run into the playoffs. After years of pain for all 49ers fans, they finally have a future to look forward to and a young defense that should be elite for many years to come.