What the San Francisco 49ers Need to Do to Improve in 2021
So I did not do a 49ers prediction video last week, nor a recap. It was one of those busy weeks where everything just went haywire. Today I wanted to do something a little different, and I have decided I am going to do this for all the teams that are struggling right now. I am going to do a list of five things the 49ers need to do to improve for 2021. Here we go.
Number 1: Hire a New Training Staff
The 49ers replaced their old staff about a year and a half ago, and their injury woes have only gotten worse. Yeah, you can blame COVID-19 and the restrictions, but the 49ers had these issues last season. It isn’t just the injuries, it’s the inconsistent recovery times. Ronald Blair should have returned by now for the 49ers, but he suffered a setback in his recovery. Richard Sherman should have returned by now, but he also suffered a setback in his recovery.
Deebo Samuel injured himself to start the season and then injured himself again. He did not have this many injury issues before last season. So again, it’s not just injuries, but
sustained injuries and additional injuries. It leads every 49ers fan to question what is going on.
Despite all this, it is highly unlikely that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan change that in the offseason. If this is the case, I would recommend a different regiment for the offseason, assuming there is one, so that come next season, the 49ers will have more healthy bodies. An elite team can sustain one, two, maybe three injuries. But when a team has 20 injuries? That is unsustainable and a huge reason the 49ers are 4-6 right now.
Number 2: Beef Up the Offensive Line
When the 49ers drafted Mike McGlinchey, they envisioned him as a player to lead the offensive line, preparing for the day Joe Staley retired. It has not worked out that way. While McGlinchey has mostly been an effective run blocker, he has failed in pass protection. That first-round pick does not look like a good investment right now. The 49ers traded for Trent Williams with the idea that he could fill in for a now-retired Staley. That also has not transpired to what they intended.
There are some days where the 49ers line works like clockwork, and there are games
such as the previous two, where they can get nothing on the ground. In his last game, Jerick McKinnon ran for 12 yards on his first 12 rushing attempts. Football Outsiders currently ranks them as the 21st best line in the NFL. That is unacceptable. In the offseason, the 49ers should add a high-quality tackle or a solid guard to beef up pass protection and improve the run blocking scheme, either via free agency or through the draft. Joe Thuney, a guard from the New England Patriots. Williams is a free agent, but may not be the best option for the 49ers, as he has not played to his potential this season.
Number 3: Get a Quarterback
Yes. I am going there. I am no longer a heavy supporter of Jimmy Garoppolo, but he has lost so much playtime time to injuries. Out of a possible 47 games, Garoppolo has only played in 30. That is not good. He is useless because he cannot stay on the field. He does not take shots down the field, and he hesitates more than ever. The 49ers need someone who can lead the team, and stay healthy. There are some options. The 49ers can save $24 million in cap space by cutting Garoppolo from his contract.
The 49ers have some choices to make. They can draft a quarterback, one such as Justin Fields. That would likely be a first-round pick if they were to go that route. There are no inspiring free agent choices unless you believe Dak Prescott will become one. Mitchell Trubisky is also a free agent, and if anyone can fix him, Shanahan can. Then there are trade options. The 49ers can trade for quarterbacks like Matt Stafford and Kirk Cousins. A quarterback will determine whether the 49ers contend again.
Number 4: Improve the Secondary
Injuries have hit the secondary hard this season. Sherman has been out since early in the year, and every main cornerback has lost some time to injury. I do like Jason Verrett but would not sign him to a long-term contract. The 49ers should draft a cornerback, either in the first or second round. They also should sign one via free agency, for the veteran leadership.
It’s going to be imperative to fix this. The 49ers have ignored the secondary for far too long, and they need to make it a priority. There are several talented corners including Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Tyson Campbell.
Number 5: Shore Up Special Teams
The special teams have been significantly weak this season. They have made multiple mistakes, and even cost the team some games. It is still up for debate whether Robbie Gould returns, but the 49ers need a return specialist. The last good return specialist they had was Tedd Ginn.
The 49ers can easily return to the playoffs next season, and even make another Super Bowl run. Had they stayed healthy this season, they likely would be 6-4 or 7-3, rather than 4-6 after ten games. If they address at least three things on the list, they likely win the division. If they address all of them, I can see a return to the Super Bowl next season.
Note; All photos are copywrite of the AP.