SF 49ers: Ranking the 5 biggest disappointing seasons in team history

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Nick Bosa, SF 49ers
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers have experienced some tough seasons where the end results never matched the hype, and here are the five toughest.

The 2020 SF 49ers were a case study for why teams are guaranteed nothing on paper until they actually play the games.

Months after falling just short in Super Bowl LIV, the 2020 Niners were projected by many analysts and pundits to get right back into the NFL championship game and compete with the team that beat them for the Lombardi Trophy in the first place, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened.

A slew of injuries to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad decimated the roster, ultimately leading San Francisco to a 6-10 record that season and a last-place finish within the NFC West. Any hope for what had been dubbed as a “revenge tour” following the Super Bowl loss evaporated quickly.

Quite the definition of a disappointment.

But which ones were the worst? These following five seasons aren’t necessarily the worst SF 49ers teams of all time, as some years fans expected the Niners to be bad. And they often were.

No, instead, let’s look at five seasons where San Francisco had the hype but ultimately couldn’t deliver in what turned out to be major disappointments.

No. 5: 2020 SF 49ers (6-10)

Kicking off this list will be a year SF 49ers fans would like to forget.

No team in the league suffered more injuries, had more players on injured reserve or used more combinations of roster lineups than the 2020 Niners. The bad news truly started in Week 2 when San Francisco lost up-and-coming star EDGE Nick Bosa to a season-ending ACL tear. The injury progression worsened with other key losses, too, namely quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and All-Pro tight end George Kittle missing significant time with injuries.

As for the offense, only fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Laken Tomlinson managed to stay healthy for all 16 games. The defense, which still ranked in the top five in yards allowed, didn’t fare much better as far as health was concerned.

Coming off a 13-3 regular-season campaign and Super Bowl berth the season before, Shanahan’s squad limped (quite literally) to that 6-10 record and also had to deal with being ousted from Levi’s Stadium for the final month of the year because of Santa Clara County protocols in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No wonder Shanahan phrased the 2020 season as “the most disappointing one” he endured.

It ranks No. 5 on our all-time list.