4 reasons why SF 49ers bounce back into playoffs in 2021
By Peter Panacy
The SF 49ers’ 2020 campaign fell way short of expectations, but there are plenty of reasons why they’ll make the playoffs next year.
The SF 49ers‘ self-named “Revenge Tour” in their follow-up campaign to the loss in Super Bowl LIV hit far too many roadblocks in 2020, and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad will limp to a sub-.500 record for the third time in his four-year coaching tenure.
Unlike 2017 and 2018, where the Niners were still undergoing a massive rebuild, the 2020 version of the team was derailed by a league-high amount of injuries, especially to key players like EDGE Nick Bosa (ACL), tight end George Kittle (foot), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle), cornerback Richard Sherman (calf), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (foot, hamstring) and many other key contributors.
It would have been difficult for any playoff-contending team to overcome the sheer number of injuries San Francisco dealt with this season. The fact the SF 49ers was still in contention late into December highlights the job Shanahan and Co. have done despite the adversity.
The good news, however, is the Niners are poised to be right back in the thick of things next season and could easily return to the playoffs.
Here are four reasons why.
No. 4: SF 49ers can’t suffer the overwhelming number of injuries again in 2021
It’s been the theme for San Francisco this season: an overabundance of players on injured reserve or missing games because of various setbacks.
Currently ahead of Week 17, the SF 49ers have 28 players on IR or some other injury/COVID-19 list, which remains a league high. And no other team has used more IR slots or has lost as many player game days than the Niners.
The simple law of averages suggests these record-setting numbers won’t anywhere close to replicating themselves again in 2021, especially if San Francisco is able to enjoy a somewhat normal 2021 offseason program despite the current pandemic.
The SF 49ers have plenty of roster questions this offseason, yes, including 40 players hitting some form of free agency this offseason.
But the core of the roster remains largely intact, and even a moderately healthy squad would have been enough for the Niners to make the playoffs this season.
That’ll likely be the case next year.