No. 1: 2019 49ers finish as the decade’s best
It’s always fun to prove people wrong.
It’s even more fun to do it in prime time, with the NFC West and top seed in the NFC playoffs on the line and it’s the last game of the decade.
This 49ers team has been the most criticized, ever. After a couple of bad years under Kyle Shanahan, nobody could have figured the Niners would finish first in the NFC West and taking away the No. 1 seed in the conference from Green Bay and New Orleans.
San Francisco 49ers
The 2019 49ers were matching and breaking records from the 1994 Super Bowl championship season. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Each and every week, there was some storyline about the Niners not playing against good teams when they started the year with eight straight wins. When they lost to Seattle, Baltimore and Atlanta, there was unnecessary talk about “not being able to beat a good team.”
Then the 49ers did what no team has had to endure in the Super Bowl era. They faced three straight teams with win percentages of 80 percent in Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans. The Niners came away with two victories and one last-second loss in rainy Baltimore. It was a stretch of games that basically would make or break how the end of the season would wind up.
Jimmy Garoppolo played his first full season under center, and finished with just under 4,000 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Of those thousands of passing yards, 1,053 of them went to George Kittle.
It was the second straight year Kittle surpassed the 1,000-yard milestone.
Kittle also had five touchdowns, including this one against the Saints.
The running game was key to the Niners early season success. Running backs Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida lead the way in the first half of the year, and then running back Raheem Mostert took control of the run game. It was a huge benefit for a team to have three starting running backs in the lineup, who all bring a different aspect to their game, forcing the defenses to try to stop them.
Defensively, this was one of the best seasons, too. Robert Saleh and his defense did enough early in the year to essentially help the offence get going. The first seven games of the season, the defense didn’t allow a team to score more than 20 points. This included holding the Cleveland Browns, Rams and Washington Redskins to a combined total of 10 points in three straight games.
The secondary was so good, led by Richard Sherman, they allowed the fewest net passing yards by any team all decade long.
No matter how the 2019 season ends with the new decade on the horizon, it’s safe to say this was by far the best 49ers team between 2010 and 2019. They finished off the 2019 regular season taking home the NFC West crown and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
It’s the first time they’ve done it since 1997.
This past decade has been something else for the 49ers. Possibly too many changes at certain times, which impacted the consistency of players and team moral. A few too many losing seasons.
But four playoff runs will certainly be the highlights of the decade.