Top 4 teams to challenge 49ers for NFC crown in 2020

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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These four teams could challenge the 49ers for NFC dominance in 2020.

It’s the San Francisco 49ers‘ ultimate goal to be the dominant team in the NFC for many, many years, hopefully spawning the same kind of dominance the franchise enjoyed throughout the 1980s and much of the 1990s.

Reaching the Super Bowl last season was indicative of how well general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan built this squad since taking over duties in 2017. While there were plenty of mistakes along the way, the end results have been pretty spectacular.

Particularly going from a four-win team in 2018 to a 13-3 NFC champion a year later.

Now comes a much tougher challenge: maintaining the status of being the conference’s best. It’s one thing to get to the top. It’s an entirely different element staying there. And the Niners already experienced parts of this, namely by not having the financial resources to retain Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who both departed the organization during the offseason.

San Francisco is no longer the under-the-radar, up-and-coming squad it once was a season or two ago. The 49ers have a proverbial “target” on their backs now and are the penultimate squad in the NFL.

As such, there will be serious challengers to the Niners’ NFC crown.

The Minnesota Vikings, whom the Niners beat in the playoffs last season, pose a threat. But they’re undergoing some vast defensive changes and could regress a bit in 2020. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now with quarterback Tom Brady in tow, could be exciting. But this isn’t going to be a 2012 version of Brady and all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Instead, let’s look at four other serious contenders San Francisco may face for NFC bragging rights this upcoming season.