After falling to 4-6 on the season, the San Francisco 49ers continue to endure a barrage of problems in 2020 and could benefit from an end of season tank.
Kyle Shanahan’s team fell to 4-5 after failing to a 17-34 defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday in a heavily disrupted week due to Covid-19 concerns.
The concerns forced Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Williams and Kendrick Bourne to be placed on the league’s Covid list after Bourne reported a positive test, which thankfully turned out to be a false positive and also meant the 49ers had to temporarily close their facility.
San Francisco then fell to a 27-13 defeat in New Orleans against the Saints, falling to 4-6 on the season.
Throughout the season it feels like the 49ers have been fighting losing battle.
San Francisco have endured a luckless campaign. The season started with Nick Bosa’s season ending ACL injury in week two.
Since then Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, Jalen Hurd and Solomon Thomas have all been put on injured reserve with long-term injuries, comfortably giving the Niners the most expensive set of players on injured reserve.
In total the 49ers have a whopping 13 players on injured reserve, have had 45 different starters this season and have used 71 different players in just nine games. Kyle Shanahan has had to scheme his way through a lot of problems this season.
Even Shanahan’s patched up backfield couldn’t survive the injury bug as Jeff Wilson, who starred in Foxboro against the Patriots, suffered a high ankle sprain and was later placed on the injury list.
Sensationally the 49ers fought back to 4-3 after wins against the Rams and Patriots before Garoppolo and Kittle were placed on injury list following their defeat in Seattle two weeks ago. Kittle will likely be out for the remainder of the season, unless San Francisco miraculously makes the playoffs.
Should the 49ers tank the remainder of the season?
Could the 49ers tank the remainder of the season to gear up for a potential Super Bowl run in 2021?
The Niners face one of the NFL’s hardest remaining schedules with trips to Los Angeles to face the Rams and Arizona awaiting Kyle Shanahan’s troops. While they will host the ever improving Buffalo Bills and the Russell Wilson led Seattle Seahawks at home.
With the 49ers injury bug looming large it isn’t hard to imagine five losses in that tough run of fixtures.
Even with Aiyuk, Williams, Samuel and Bourne, this 49ers team isn’t good enough to win offensively to mask issues they have been facing all season.
I seriously doubt it. The ceiling of this Niners offensive unit is probably lower than many expect, with the continued excellence of Samuel and Kittle is masking over a lot of them.
Can the 49ers put points up in New Orleans on Sunday? With Nick Mullens or CJ Beathard at quarterback it is hard to imagine that happening against a strong Saints defense.
Without Garoppolo, Mostert and Kittle this offense has struggled to put points on the board. The majority of the points in the blowout loss to Green Bay came in garbage time, in fact the scoreline was pretty flattering to the Niners.
Garoppolo isn’t the best quarterback in the league, but he is significantly better than both Mullens and Beathard. The last two starts from Mullens have further underlined that Garoppolo presents the 49ers’ best chance at success.
However, the 49ers are still limited with Garoppolo. Although he is their best option at the position, it doesn’t mean that he can be relied on how the Packers rely on Aaron Rodgers and the Buccaneers rely on Tom Brady.
Despite the former Patriot’s limitations, the 49ers managed to win games, largely due to their defensive line, Kittle and their run game. That masked a lot of Garoppolo’s limitations, limitations that were on full display during the Super Bowl. Garoppolo’s problems were arguably the difference between the two teams.
The former Patriot has regressed this season. With the injuries to Mostert and Coleman, Garoppolo has had to shoulder a lot of the offense and his flaws have began to show. Shanahan has tried to mask those flaws in his playcalling.
An end of season tank could allow the Niners to draft a successor this offseason and move on Garoppolo.