The Armchair Quarterback Volume 2: Flashback Friday 2005
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Remember when times were simpler, back in the good ‘ole days? When Kanye West was just hoping for more success with his sophomore album Late Registration. When “sexting” had just crept into our zeitgeist. When YouTube had just been birthed into existence. Yes, that year was 2005! Seems like a lifetime ago for some, and included a season that the San Francisco 49ers and their Faithful would most probably like to forget, but there were some notable names that graced the 49ers roster that year. Let’s take a look at some of the players and coaches that were on that roster and see where they are now.
McCarthy has been all over the news in recent days due to the harsh way he was told that he would no longer be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. After 13 seasons, multiple playoff runs and one Super Bowl victory, he was shown the door three hours after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. I mean yes it was an ugly loss, but jeez!
However, before he was feuding with Aaron Rodgers over offensive play calling and Packer fans were calling for his head, he was the offensive coordinator for the 2005 49ers. To call it a rough season would’ve been an understatement. After coming off a 2-14 season and taking Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall draft pick, injuries and lack of experience plagued the 49ers. And McCarthy wasn’t able to get much offense at all. In fact, he finished the season with 3,587 total yards of offense which placed the Niners at 32nd in the league. Yes, that’s dead last! However, in a shocking turn of events, despite being the play caller of the worst offense in the league, he was offered a head coaching job with the Packers after the season. And the rest is history, which is still being written!
A third-round pick out of the University of Miami in the 2005 NFL draft, Frank Gore was the bright spot of an otherwise dismal offense. Gore finished the season with 608 yards rushing, which not only led the team, but was the highest total for a rookie on the 49ers since Roger Craig in 1983! Gore showed everyone flashes of a spectacular future to come. He put up eight 1,000 yard rushing seasons and earned five Pro Bowl selections, not to mention innumerable plays which caused fans to yell expletive-laden phrases. Gore was an absolute fan favorite during his tenure with the Niners. He left for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 and continued to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. Now with the Miami Dolphins, Gore has totaled 14,642 yards rushing in his illustrious career which puts him 4th on the list of career leading rushers. Gore still continues to chase more records and legend status as we speak!
Holding the number one overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft, the 49ers chose to select quarterback Alex Smith out of the University of Utah. After five mostly forgettable seasons, during which many questioned his ability as a starting quarterback in the league, the 2011 season saw a complete 180 in Smith’s career. That of course was congruent with Jim Harbaugh’s arrival as new head coach that season. Consistency and mistake-free play, many of the things that were missing early in Smith’s career began to shine forth. And a clutch bone started to develop in his body, with him leading five fourth-quarter comebacks that season. That year Smith also led the 49ers to their first postseason appearance since 2002 and first NFC Championship game since 1997. Midway through the following season, after suffering a concussion, Smith lost his starting spot to Colin Kaepernick and did not get that job back even after his recovery. Before the 2013 season the 49ers struck up a trade deal to send Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs. From 2013 through 2017, Smith would go on to have three Pro Bowl selections, including the 2017 season in which he led the league in yards passing. In 2018, Smith was traded again, this time to the Washington Redskins. After leading the Skins to a seemingly successful 2018 campaign through their first 10 games, Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Houston Texans which effectively ended his season. It is yet to be seen how he bounces back from this injury, but sentimental 49er fans are no doubt wishing him and his lovely smile a smooth road to recovery!
There happened to be a cornerback on the 49ers’ 2005 roster by the name of Kris Richard. After a highly unmemorable NFL career, Richard decided to get into coaching and in 2008 he joined his college coach Pete Carroll’s staff at his alma mater, the University of Southern California. Richard returned to the NFL in 2010 joining Carroll’s coaching staff on the Seattle Seahawks. Starting as an assistant defensive backs coach, he eventually moved his way up to defensive coordinator. He is credited with offering coaching prowess to Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary which was one of the best during his stint. Not to mention they got penalized like CRAZY for pushing the acceptable boundaries of contact with receivers. After being fired from the Seahawks staff following the completion of the 2017 season, he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive backs coach. It has been speculated that he shouts “We dem boyz” after every Dallas victory.
A fitting way to end this nostalgic journey back to 2005 is to discuss the team’s assistant defensive backs coach at the time, an individual by the name of Vance Joseph. After coaching with the Niners, and multiple assistant coaching roles for a number of other teams in the league, Joseph landed his first head coaching gig in 2017 for the Denver Broncos. This Sunday he will be leading the Broncos into Levi’s Stadium to take on his former team. Will he shake hands with Jed York? Stay tuned for that!
While the 49ers would go onto finish 2005 with a 4-12 record, in a season that many if not all 49er Faithful would like to forget, there were a number of key players and coaches on that roster that are still making their impact felt today. So, 49er Faithful, before you go writing off 2018 as a lost season, just think that years from now, it could be looked back upon as the launch pad for the next cream of the crop players and coaches!
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