If there’s anything being a 49ers fan has taught me in the last five years, winning football games takes a lot going right in all the right places with everyone involved working together to make sure the ship is being steered correctly.
It’s been a long road to get to a place where 49ers fans feel confident going into the week against another team. Only having five wins in the last 26 games, there hasn’t been a large stream of belief the team could win. From ravaged rosters, poor quarterback play and people not being on the same page.
This season shows how incredibly far the team has come. Looking back at the Baalke and Harbaugh era with my 20/20 hindsight I can see that Baalke and Harbaugh’s vision were just incredibly different. Jim Harbaugh’s ability to get the best out of quarterbacks masked a significant amount of issues the team had. Even though he got stellar years out of Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick there was always the feeling that the team was always just out of reach of being in the realm the Patriots were in.
In Kyle Shanahan’s first year, he was given a team with incredibly lacking talent. Signing what seemed like 100 new players, it was a full reset. As the season progressed and the losses started to pile up you could still tell that although they were losing, they still believed in Shanahan without any hestitation.
Brian Hoyer showing how incapable he truly was if the situation wasn’t stacked in his favor. CJ Beathard while being a fan favorite, was getting his ass kicked like he was Rocky Balboa in the first three rounds. Fans watching started to believe this rebuild was going to use up all of Shanahan’s six-year contract. The quarterback position sure seemed important here.
I have one thought I find myself battling back and forth now that we have Jimmy Garoppolo seemingly being everything we hoped for. While Jimmy is 2-0 going into a game about a Titans team we’ll talk more about in a second, my interest is in how much credit goes to the people involved. With Jimmy at quarterback, the 49ers have some confidence back that they haven’t seen in quite some time.
Kyle Shanahan seems to have a plan. Jimmy Garoppolo seems capable of executing that plan at a high level. John Lynch and Adam Peters seem to be in lock step finding the players that specifically help Kyle’s vision. With a team in the top three in the NFL of using rookies on the starting team that’s very evident.
This is the complete other side to the spectrum where the team had been in recent years. It seems as if as long as the 49ers have their holy trinity (no not Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) of Lynch, Shanahan, and Garoppolo they’ll be competitive. Which is why you shouldn’t worry about Garoppolo’s extension. The 49ers know what he means to the team. He’s not going anywhere.
What’s most interesting about looking at that equation to success is the Titans current situation. If you’re not familiar, Marcus Mariota is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL currently. While I do believe he’s significantly better than Kap as a passer and overall quarterback, he seems to currently reside in a similar world Kap did towards the end of his time in the bay area.
The Titans are an interesting case. One of the best running games in the NFL, their defense has been lights out at getting to the quarterback lately. They’ve gotten their all-star first round receiver back healthy. A team at the beginning of the year that was a serious Super Bowl contender finds themselves with a very positive record, but still not reaching what people thought their potential would be. Getting throttled by the Chiefs, and the DeShaun Watson led Texans, but still being 8-5 and being one game back from the division leading Jaguars.
Where my interest lies, is they seem to have a great roster, their franchise quarterback, and all the potential in the world. I’m curious to see what this team would be like with a Sean McVay, or Kyle Shanahan. Just how in the Xbox game Halo, to succeed you need to be proficient in the trifecta of grenades, melee attack and weapon, you need to be proficient with your quarterback, coach, and GM. The 49ers seemingly have all three finally. They’re trajectory is climbing fast. The test against the Titans will have all these themes on full display Sunday.