The 49ers missing the 2020 playoffs would be in a word, disastrous.
Now this is not something I believe will actually happen as the San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most dynamic teams in the NFL in the last few years. They have shown their ability to overcome various obstacles and build a team that is made to compete now and in the future.
The real question is what happens if they can’t overcome these obstacles? The reality is anything can happen to a team any given season, and sometimes things can go south… fast.
Yet what would be the reasons why the Niners fail to make the playoffs this season? Here are three to contemplate.
49ers cornerback depth was not addressed whatsoever
The Niners brass made the bold decision of completely ignoring the glaring hole that is their cornerback depth this offseason. This was by far one of their more glaring needs as quality starts to dwindle after their top two options, Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley.
Call me a pessimist, but 2017 third-round pick Ahkhello Witherspoon is not a player who has proved he deserves playing time in important games. He had struggled until the beginning of the 2019 season where, for the first time in his NFL career, he was starting to show some promise. He was then injured and forced to miss a large chunk of the season. During his time off the field, undrafted rookie sensation Moseley shocked fans with his dominant style of play. He had shown he was the team’s true No. 2 corner behind the veteran, Sherman.
When Witherspoon finally did return, he was a complete disaster in coverage. Teams were picking on him any chance they got. There were actually some debates over who should start between Witherspoon and Moseley in the playoffs, but after his utter meltdown during the NFC semifinal game where he let Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs completely dismantle him in the game’s first drive, the debate was put to rest.
This leaves the 49ers with a lot of question marks when it comes to corner depth as if an injury strikes and takes out the soon-to-be 33-year-old Sherman, the team may literally be stuck with the worst outside corner pairing in the NFL. This would be an absolute nightmare considering the stud QBs the 49ers will be facing weekly with their stacked schedule this season.
The Niners did not draft or sign a single corner, aside from the undrafted DeMarkus Acy, which may be looked back on with absolute shock if anything happens to the team’s top options. Considering how vigilant the 49ers are when it comes to assuring positional depth is strong, it was probably not the right move to put that much faith in the already sub-par cornerback group.
I am not saying this group failed to perform admirably last season. In fact, the defensive backfield was actually considered one of the league’s top groups with Sherman receiving Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
I just have my doubts about them being able to play at a high level if injuries were to strike and leave their depth thin.