Resolutions for the 49ers as They Head Into the Offseason
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So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season's fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
- TS Eliot. “Little Gidding.”
The San Francisco 49ers are not participating in playoff football, and the franchise is probably better off for it. The past year dealt the men in scarlet red and glittering gold a sour hand of cards. No amount of drawing or bluffing was going to make the 49ers a better team.
Oddly, it's only been a week since the season ended for the 49ers, but it feels like a month. Experts and fans are talking about who the 49ers need to have behind center and who deserves a new contract.
Before general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan start to plan the upcoming season, I highly suggest a break from football and develop a sound set of resolutions to guide the franchise over the next seven months.
Take Right Guard Seriously
There was plenty of chatter this season about the 49ers' offensive line. However, like any gossip, there was little truth carried on the backs of tweets and hot takes.
Indeed, right tackle Mike McGlinchey had a rough season, but his numbers hardly deviated from his previous two seasons. Hardly anyone wanted to talk about how much McGlinchey improved in the run game.
So, no, the 49ers do not need to draft or sign a new right tackle. Lynch and Shanahan need to fill the right guard position with the best player available – whether through the draft or free agency.
Last season, after Mike Person retired, Lynch had a chance to fill the roster spot with a talented guard. Instead, he skimped and signed veteran Tom Compton on the cheap and drafted a college tackle with the hopes of turning him into a guard.
Wishes and hopes are lovely things to toast at the stroke of midnight on a chilly New Year's day, but these are not the building blocks of championship football.
Find Happiness in a Quarterback
Forty-Niner fans, especially those who grew up watching Joe Montana and Steve Young, are quarterback snobs. If the man behind the center doesn't have a dimpled chin or scamper through a Viking secondary for a wild touchdown run, then that man does not deserve to hold the title of Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
Part of this resolution lies with you and me. I understand the frustration with this year's quarterback roster. Each one had similar problems and was often frustrating to watch. But let's be honest with one another: when was the last time all of us were universally happy with the team's quarterback?
It hasn't been with Jimmy Garoppolo. Colin Kaepernick had a fleeting few moments, but many of us believed a half-baked theory that he couldn't read a defense.
No, Gentle Reader, we were not thrilled with Alex Smith until he started winning games. Trust me; I remember the Candlestick afternoons where the boos would rain down on Smith in between the wafting aromas of garlic fries and red wine.
We need to stop expecting the next guy to be “perfect” or “ideal,” which might make football more enjoyable to watch.
However, Lynch and Shanahan also need to find a quarterback that makes them happy. It's clear from the tone in their press conferences neither was tickled pink with Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, or C.J. Beathard.
If these men are not the answer, then it's time to part ways. I've grown very tired of Shanahan selling us on a quarterback's greatness when even the most casual fan could tell there wasn't an ounce of excellence in the player.
Keep in mind that Shanahan once sang hymns of Tom Savage back in 2018.
“…there’s one thing I always liked about Savage, from coming out of college. He’s got a strong arm. He’s a very tough player. He hangs in that pocket and plays the potion well.”
Shanahan especially needs to take the time over the next few weeks and find out what he wants in a quarterback or a quarterback coach. It's time he makes the same demands of himself as he is of those he is leading.
The Golden Spiral of Contract Math
I want to preface this final resolution with the following: you're reading a writer who could not sit down and work a long division problem. The NFL's business part is my weakest area, so take these words with a handful of salt.
I fully understand that teams cannot keep every beloved player or superstar. It's an ugly fact across all sports that some of us learned when Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings for two bags of dirt and a Brink's truck filled with $15 million in straight cash.
It feels as if the 49ers' brass has lost its way with creating contracts that allow the team to keep its core players. I want the team to find a way to keep cornerback Richard Sherman and give All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner a hefty, long-term contract. The team needs to bring back left tackle Trent Williams, but I don't believe it needs to come at the expense of another critical player.
Maybe Lynch and his number men can start trimming some dead weight and find a few contracts that could be restructured to ensure key veterans are back on the roster this fall.
The end-of-season blues have not yet begun to chill our bones, but we are in the season where the 49ers must take time to break down and then slowly build up to make a run at a title next season.
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