3 reasons 49ers remain the team to beat in NFC entering 2023

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) with wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) with wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers should be viewed as the top contender out of the NFC this season despite some question marks at quarterback and elsewhere.

The free agency period has come and gone, and the 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching. A myriad of familiar faces is now playing for different teams and even coaches have changed addresses.

The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, lost a ton of valuable contributors to free agency. But despite those losses, they still remain one of the top teams to beat in the NFC.

Here are three reasons why!

49ers’ team nucleus is still intact

Although San Francisco had to say goodbye to a number of foundational players who helped bring success and stability to the organization, there are still quite a few solidified pieces who will be returning to the 49ers in 2023.

They’ll be acquiring some new faces to help fill the void, but a lot of that great chemistry they once had will have to be forged throughout the dog days of OTAs and training camp.

The one glaring fact about offseason turnover for an organization is it doesn’t just stop and start with players. Coaches and staffers are subject to a change of scenery as well. This was the case with San Francisco’s previous defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, as a lucrative head-coaching vacancy opened up for the Houston Texans, and Ryans would go on and fill that role.

The Niners quickly countered this loss by obtaining coordinator Steve Wilks, a former member of the Carolina Panthers coaching staff.

Even with all of these crucial changes, the vast majority of players and staff will be familiar faces who can help acclimate the new incoming contributors.

Kyle Shanahan is still an elite play-caller

Another reason San Francisco remains the team to beat in the NFC is because of one of the league’s most elite play-callers in head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Since the 2017 season when Shanahan first arrived, he and the team have dealt with a rash of injuries at vital positions throughout the roster. They’ve had catastrophic injuries three out of six seasons and still manage to find themselves competing in three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl over a four-year span.

This is a huge testament to Shanahan for keeping his guys engaged and competitive.

The 49ers are a fairly well-oiled machine that’s only getting better because of the continuity in the locker room. They haven’t quite gotten over the Super Bowl hump just yet, but the Niners are right there knocking on the door, thanks to an extremely cohesive coaching staff.

49ers’ brilliant brain trust

A cohesive coaching staff put together by San Francisco’s brain trust of general manager John Lynch, CEO Jed York and Executive Vice President Paraag Marathe is now proving to be one of the top front offices in the NFL.

They have built an amazingly formidable group of players and coaches capable of competing with any team at any stadium in any condition. The team’s recent success and locker room culture are a big reason why players are willing to take pay cuts and discounted contracts to play in the Bay Area.

Not only will the 49ers have a guaranteed path to postseason play, but they’ll have a boatload of fun while getting there.

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