No. 3: Sophomore slumps for key 49ers players
The success of the 49ers in 2019 hinged a great deal on the quality of a few rookies who came through when called upon.
Chief among them were the aforementioned Deebo Samuel, linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who came out of the fifth round to become a starter down the stretch after losing Kwon Alexander to injury, and EDGE rusher and Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa.
Not to mention someone like Emmanuel Moseley, who was essentially a rookie, having played one game in 2018, offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule, and reserve linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair.
Of those players, Bosa and Samuel succumbing to sophomore slumps would probably have the biggest impacts on the overall success of the 49ers, as each is a vital part of his respective side of the football.
Next up on the list of importance are Greenlaw and Brunskill, both of whom may factor in as key starters or contributors on each side of the ball. In Brunskill’s case, he’s looking like the most likely starter at right guard, so him not playing as well in 2019 as he did in 2020 could be quite bad.
As several of these second-year players are vital to the 49ers team, a sophomore slump from one or more of these players, but especially Bosa and Samuel, could derail the Niners season.