History suggests the San Francisco 49ers will have a tough time returning to the Super Bowl after losing Super Bowl 53, but the window to win one soon is still very much open.
One probably shouldn’t bet big money on the San Francisco 49ers getting back to the Super Bowl after losing the league’s championship contest to the Kansas City Chiefs just a week ago.
Why? Because history tells us teams on the losing end of the big game rarely make it back to the big game, let alone win it. There is a recent example of this happening, of course, as the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 52 after losing the championship to the Philadelphia Eagles the year prior. But that was the only team in the last decade to achieve this feat.
There are a number of reasons why the Patriots are perennial Super Bowl contenders. Boasting future Hall of Famers, quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, certainly helps. But one could make the argument the Pats set themselves up for continued success.
That’s what the 49ers have done in recent years, and the efforts from head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have put the franchise into this phase.
NFL.com’s Adam Schein argued this, too, listing the Niners as one of nine teams whose window to win a Super Bowl is open right now. San Francisco hit the list at No. 3 behind the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, who figure to battle for the AFC Championship game a little less than a year from now.
One of those Niners players who came up short was Jimmy Garoppolo. His fourth quarter was horrible. He needed to hit Emmanuel Sanders on that would-be go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. But don’t let that one play overshadow everything else he accomplished on the season. Including the playoffs, he won 15 games. He was the only quarterback to finish the regular season ranked in top five in completion percentage (69.1), yards per attempt (8.4) and touchdown passes (27). With Shanahan calling plays and San Francisco’s surrounding talent, the 49ers can absolutely win a Super Bowl with Jimmy G at QB.
The Niners aren’t going away anytime soon.
Pointing out Garoppolo is a wise move, of course. And while Jimmy G was far from perfect in the Super Bowl, raising doubts whether he can be franchise elite, it’s foolish to overlook the fact he tossed for 3,978 yards during the regular season, landing him fourth on the franchise’s all-time leaders list in this category.
As far as transitioning into 2020, the Niners do have some tough questions to ask themselves. Defensive tackle Arik Armstead, who led the team with 10 sacks, is scheduled to hit free agency. So is Sanders and free safety Jimmie Ward. With a limited amount of cap space available and only a handful of picks in this year’s NFL Draft, including only a first rounder between Rounds 1 and 4, it’s easy to understand why Lynch has some tough work to do between now and training camp.
Yet the core group remains intact, anchored by players like Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, along with some notable rookies, EDGE Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
Those are only a handful of names to consider, as San Francisco received plenty of top-level production elsewhere, too.
So, while the 49ers aren’t going to have an easy time getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it outright this upcoming season, the window remains open and could for a long, long time.