What to Root for Down The Stretch of Another Lost 49ers Season
It's another lost season for the San Francisco 49ers. That has been an indisputable truth for some time.
Had the 49ers fared better in the five successive games they lost by three points or less, then we may have been looking at a more promising first season for the new regime led by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan.
But now, with an injury-ravaged 49ers team sitting at 0-9, San Francisco is now in a spot where it is better to keep losing to secure the highest draft position possible and give the franchise the opportunity to surround new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with as much top-tier talent as possible.
As Jon Ledyard of Fanrag Sports recently wrote, the trade for Garoppolo has effectively put San Francisco in control of the draft. The Niners are likely to hold an extremely high pick and, with their quarterback seemingly already in place, they can make a deal with a team desperate for help under center to stockpile selections and add significantly to a team that still has a substantial number of holes.
The only way the Niners can jeopardise their position as King-makers in the draft, as Ledyard points out, is by winning. A late-season surge may see San Francisco plummet down the order and end up with a pick nowhere near as valuable as the top-two selection the 49ers are on track for.
However, a continuation of an extremely disheartening losing streak would put the 49ers in clear danger of joining the 2008 Detroit Lions and potentially this year's Cleveland Browns, as the only teams to have gone 0-16.
For a franchise with the prestige of the 49ers, 0-16 would be an extremely disappointing blot on an otherwise largely storied history.
Last season's 2-14 record was bearable and 1-15 would be acceptable for a team that is undergoing a full-scale rebuild, but the pain and the embarrassment of 0-16 would sting for some time.
So the 49ers need to endure the pain of defeat now to improve their long-term prospects, but also desperately need a win, if just for the sanity of the players, staff and fans.
Approaching the final seven games of the season, if you find yourself asking what you should root for as a 49ers fan, that is your answer.
Root for them to win at least one game, root for no more injuries in this bruising season, root for Garoppolo to get some game time and impress and for the likes of DeForest Buckner and Reuben Foster to make further strides.
Then, providing the 49ers get that one win, root for what the 49ers had been producing at the start of the season - competitive performances in close losses, which will ensure San Francisco maintains its strong draft position while indicating at further signs of progress by a team whose record could by markedly different if not for a few bounces of the ball.