Adam Rank: 49ers must ‘win the Super Bowl this year’

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

Adam Rank isn’t holding back on his 49ers expectations for 2020.

The 2019 San Francisco 49ers sure proved’s Adam Rank wrong.

Fans will recall how the network’s analyst predicted last year’s Niners squad would go 3-13 on the season and face yet another ugly, rebuilding offseason in which head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch would be called into question.

Instead, San Francisco flipped that number into a 13-3 dominant campaign and rode that momentum all the way to within 10 minutes of a Super Bowl win.

Now, Rank is altering his expectation level for Shanahan, Lynch and Co.

To his credit, Rank absorbed all the criticism which came his way during what was a surprising and thrilling year from the red and gold. Yet that’s something he points out for the 49ers’ upcoming campaign, highlighting how the Niners are no longer going to be “under the radar.”

And in his recent “State of the Franchise” series on, Rank pointed out one key item on San Francisco’s to-do list this year: win the Super Bowl:

"The 49ers need to win the Super Bowl this year. Just think of what recently transpired with Jim Harbaugh, who put together a 44-19-1 record from 2011 to ’14 as the Niners’ head coach, including a 2012 run to Super Bowl XLVII — in which San Francisco was bested by Baltimore. Two seasons and one 8-8 finish later, Harbaugh was done, and the Super Bowl window slammed shut, with plenty of potential remaining untapped.It’s hard to look back at those great teams and not be disappointed at the missed opportunities."

Rank has some key points here. Niners fans will recall those years between 2011 and 2014, which included those three consecutive NFC Championship game appearances and one Super Bowl berth. There were so many close moments: the muffed punt return by Kyle Williams against the New York Giants in 2012, the incomplete fade passes to wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the Super Bowl and the following season against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.

Simply put, Rank highlights what San Francisco fans already know: the Niners’ Super Bowl window is now open.

And those widows rarely stay open for very long.

One of the elements at play here is the 49ers defense, which was No. 8 overall in scoring in 2019, No. 2 overall in yards against and No. 1 against the pass. Simply put, it was an elite unit.

Unlike many teams’ offensive continuity hopes, though, defenses can fluctuate on a year-to-year basis despite relatively little turnover. Rank didn’t hesitate to point out the 2019 Chicago Bears or the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars, who both had elite-level defenses the year prior before falling back to relative average-dom the subsequent season.

The Niners, armed with a still-young defensive line and elite linebacker corps, could weather this concern. Yet there are still worries within the secondary, which was an area Lynch and Co. did little to change or upgrade during the offseason.

Does that come back to haunt San Francisco, which saw it’s Super Bowl LIV hopes drain away thanks to some blown coverages against the Kansas City Chiefs?

It’s anyone’s guess.

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Still, that doesn’t change the overall goal, at least according to Rank and many others. The 49ers must win the Super Bowl this year to exorcise the demons from what happened last February.