The SF 49ers have fallen into the bottom tier of teams, according to NFL.com’s latest NFL power rankings ahead of Week 10.
For much of the offseason, the SF 49ers were hanging around the top five of most sites’ NFL power rankings. It was understandable, as the Niners were just coming off a Super Bowl appearance last February and retained the bulk of a powerhouse roster poised to get right back into the playoff picture.
At 4-5 just beyond the halfway point of the season, though, it’s pretty safe to admit 2020 hasn’t gone according to plan.
So it shouldn’t be too big a surprise to see San Francisco take yet another power rankings hit following its ugly and lopsided home loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football last week.
All the way to No. 20 from No. 17, according to NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus:
"Sometimes, it’s just not your year. The 49ers came tantalizingly close to beating the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and now they’re staring down a 2020 season where they could be playing out the string by Thanksgiving. Rotten injury luck has been at the core of San Francisco’s problems, and you saw how overmatched this compromised roster was during Thursday night’s 34-17 loss to the Packers. Ten months earlier, it was Kyle Shanahan’s team laying a whipping on Matt LaFleur’s squad on a national stage in the NFC Championship Game. Such is the cruel nature of sports, where coming close one year guarantees not a damn thing in the season that follows."
There are so many truths to that statement.
For starters, one can easily blame all the injuries head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad has suffered. Cornerback Richard Sherman, edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford have both been out since Week 2. Wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel have both missed multiple games, as have running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle have been in and out of the lineup, and now both are possibly going to miss the remainder of the season.
That’s just the surface of the SF 49ers’ injury report over the season.
The other element of Hanzus’ argument, the part suggesting previous success doesn’t ever guarantee subsequent success, has become overwhelmingly true. Parity in the NFL is a real thing, and even teams maintaining a relatively clean slate of health can go from a Super Bowl contender one year to a squad looking at a possible top-10 NFL Draft pick the next.
While the Niners didn’t suffer a dramatic regression in a complete vacuum, it’s more than apparent 2020 hasn’t been the team’s year.
If there is a silver lining, though, San Francisco still has a sizable number of those core players under contract into next season. In 2018, amid a year where plenty was expected from Garoppolo, Shanahan and that season’s 49ers squad, a 4-12 end result stemming from Garoppolo’s early ACL tear ultimately resulted in the SF 49ers landing Bosa.
That worked out pretty well the following season, so one can only hope this year’s frustrations turn into a much better situation for Shanahan and Co. in 2021.