The 2017 San Francisco 49ers might be one of the most hyped 6-10 teams in recent history. A 6-10 record is not a celebrated season in most franchise buildings. At the 2018 scouting combine Kyle Shanahan said, “I said this to a number of people: I learned the way to get people to feel good about 6-10 is to start 0-9. I'm glad we didn't do it the other way around. That would probably be a totally different feeling.” The addition of Jimmy Garoppolo and the belief that Kyle Shanahan knows best has people representing red and gold like it’s 1995.
Players are saying that there is talk of the Super Bowl in the locker room. That is obviously the goal here. If the 49ers happen to raise banner number six, there would be at least one individual accolade coming to the Santa Clara office. Lets take a look at the players most likely to win the different post-season awards.
You mean M-V-Jimmy? Who else would win this award on the 49ers? After Jimmy Garoppolo throws for 5,000-plus yards and 35 touchdowns with only eight interceptions and leads the 49ers to home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Garoppolo brings home the mother of all individual trophies. Bill Belichick is heard walking into Bob Kraft’s office muttering, “I told you so.”
In this world of Jimmy perfection and total team domination, Jerick McKinnon flirts with the 1000/1000 club, established only by Roger Craig and Marshal Faulk. Making Alvin Kamara’s season from a year ago look like rookie play and out-performing Dalvin Cook by a thousand combined yards, McKinnon earns every penny of his 14 million dollar contract. Breaking several long runs up the gut of the 49ers new and improved offensive line and a couple of slippery screen plays help to pad his stats. McKinnon also opens the season up burning his old team for over 200 combined yards and making Carlos Hyde’s Week 1 season opener against the Vikings in 2016 a forgotten moment in time.
Candidate number one is not the one everyone is talking about, for any awards at least. After missing the first two games of the season due to suspension, Reuben Foster has the greatest game by any linebacker not named Lawrence Taylor and becomes the first player to amass 20 solo tackles in a single game, returning an interception for a touchdown, and ending the game on an up-the-gut blitz sack. After repeating the twenty tackle feat for a second time, Foster wraps up his D-POY campaign with another pick six in week 18 to wrap up the 49ers home field advantage for the playoffs. With almost 200 tackles on the year, four interceptions (two for TDs), five forced fumbles, and 10 sacks, Foster barely holds off DeForest Buckner and his 15 sack season.
Dante Pettis carves out a role in the offense, splitting his time from the slot and outside. His knack for reaching the end zone translates to his pro-game, scoring touchdowns in the passing, running and return game. Amassing 70 receptions for 985 yards and 12 combined touchdowns, Pettis holds off the rookie quarterbacks and an underwhelming Saquon Barkley season to win this award. Admittedly this is the most unlikely of the awards here. His competition on the team for reps and in the league for performance is the greatest. Here’s to dreaming though.
Fred “Wonder Pick” Warner, not to be confused with the Fred kid from “Wonder Years,” is one smart young man. His speed, ability to cover tight ends and running backs, and violence at the point of attack will prove Warner to be the best linebacker drafted in 2018. It’s a tall order for Warner to prove, but with all of the athletic talent around him opening up the opportunities for the LB crew, leaves Warner looking like Chris Borland 2.0. With high totals in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and sacks, Warner looks like the steal of 2018.
Coach of the Year
Kyle Shanahan beats out Bill Belichick and Sean McVay for the top head coach of the year by leading the 49ers to a 13-3 season, sweeping the NFC West and taking the team to the celebrated sixth NFL Championship. Shanahan is seen celebrating in Atlanta with Lil Wayne and Steve Young.
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