If there’s one thing fans of the San Francisco 49ers have been good at in the last 5 years, it’s compartmentalizing for the sake of finding small wins. Wins as a whole have been hard to come by. In the past 3 years, the 49ers have a grand total of 8 wins. Only three in the last two seasons. With four head coaches the last four years, there’s been plenty of bad without much of the good.
As we go into week thirteen against the Chicago Bears, it seems the outlook has become a little brighter. Looking at the issues with the team over the last 5 years, hell even the last ten, quarterback was always uniquely involved. During the Alex Smith years, it was always a matter of the quarterback trying to live up to expectations. Colin Kaepernick was a matter of a guy who had immense talent getting a shot and riding a wave of success that seemed to have been a perfect storm. Like all storms, they eventually fade out.
As the team navigated through life with Kaepernick not being the long team answer, and figuring out where the answer to that question would come from. The acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots suddenly made things a lot clearer. A quarterback that had originally been completely off limits no matter the asking price, had just fallen into the 49ers laps. With the quarterback position solidified now it’s time to go into what happens next.
How important is Jimmy to this team? Well let’s turn the fan cap up a couple notches. A team that had only succeeded two field goals in fifty-nine minutes under the helm of a tough-as-nails CJ Beathard had quite the different experience in a short period with Jimmy. Three plays. A run for a first down, and one completion that set up the final play.
With a handful of seconds left, Jimmy snapped the ball, rolled out left with immediate pressure coming to him from the defensive line. With eighty-seven-year veteran Louis Murphy double covered plus a corner back in between them ready to jump up and snatch the ball out of the air, Garoppolo threw one of the better passes the 49ers has seen thrown in quite some time. Not only sailing just enough over one defender, it fit in the perfect window while the Seahawks starting corner back Byron Maxwell was completely draped over Murphy. With near perfect defense, Murphy still managed to catch the ball in the end zone. Touchdown.
These are things special quarterbacks do. They make plays happen. With players that have no business making them. Louis Murphy should basically be retired with a very respectable career. That’s why the quarterback position is so important. That poor offensive line play, 3rd tier receivers, all manageable with a good quarterback.
The 49ers hope to finish the next five games with two, maybe three more wins. Some fans would have them lose all of them just for that coveted top pick. As much as we all respect Beathard’s heart, and the ever so special grit, losing out was very possible with him. I’m here to make the argument that if Garoppolo is good enough to win a handful of the final games, that’s more important than a top three pick.
Regardless of the pick being in the top three or the top seven, the fact is the 49ers have plenty of needs that can be addressed in the top half of the first round. Top tier offensive lineman? Yeah gonna need that. Edge rusher who can finally get this team to make opposing jerseys less than clean? Need that too. A true number one receiver that can allow players like Trent Taylor and George Kittle to excel? Yeah, we need that too. Any of those picks can significantly help this team moving forward. If Jimmy Garoppolo is the quarterback Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch think he is, that will be more important than any draft pick.
Next year will be all about three items. Protecting the quarterback, giving the quarterback weapons, and getting players that can get to the other quarterback. With not needing to spend the team’s top five pick on a quarterback, and not having to pay the king of overrated Kirk Cousins an absurd amount of money, the focus will go all in on those three items.
Some teams just need a coach to take the talent that’s already there and get the most out of it. Some teams need that quarterback that can be the leader that takes the team into true competition. Some teams need over one hundred million dollars in cap space two years in a row to rebuild a roster depleted by a man whose work made more sense as an undercover agent of the Seahawks than a general manager from the 49ers. Fortunately for this homer, I believe they have all three.