The San Francisco 49ers’ final regular season game catapulted them into the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Football fans around the globe were treated to an entertaining opening round of playoff football. Especially for those who will enjoy a little bonus ball come divisional round weekend. For the teams that will represent their respective cities in the NFL playoffs, best of luck to you all.
For those who must endure a long off-season, keep your heads held high and belief in your organization. With today’s league parity and refs still making mistakes on certain calls/non-calls, your team may be in the hunt come this time next season. All will be well.
Now on to more pressing matters … for the 2019 NFC regular season champion San Francisco 49ers (man it feels good saying that), the road to the No. 1 seed has been a daunting task since the opening day kickoff.
Not only were the Niners competing against 16 other professional paid football teams, but it seems as if they were battling all sorts of weekly naysayers’ along the way. Prior to playing their weekly games, the Niners had to constantly field questions about the character and make up of this team.
An unproven QB coming off an ACL injury, a successful coordinator turned head coach and a roster loaded with a bunch of talent that doesn’t have a ton of experience winning together. All of these bullet points and more, have been a focal point for the Niners all season long. Once upon a time, they were even considered pretenders by some of sports top analysts who predicated their outcome for the season.
The San Francisco 49ers finally went into CenturyLink field and defeated the vaunted Seattle Seahawks to conclude the 2019 regular season. It had been eight long years of agonizing defeat at the hands of the Hawks on their home turf. Fortunately, that all ended on Halloween of the 2017 season when GM John Lynch would make a crucial trade to land franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Once that trade happened, there was a certain aura that followed the young QB and the five-game winning streak he orchestrated to close out that season, only further solidified my gut feeling about him.
There was a ton of hype surrounding the Tom Brady protégé and rightfully so but, there was also a major concern about his overall production. Without much game experience to lean on coupled with the ACL injury sustained last year, Garoppolo came into this season with much more questions than last year.
However, due to his outstanding competitive DNA and the willingness to soak up as much knowledge from Brady as he can, he finds himself enjoying an amazing run during his first official full season as an NFL starter. And to be quite honest, I was thoroughly impressed with everything he’s shown on a weekly basis.
Garoppolo’s 2019 Season Stats: 3,978 passing yards; 27 TDs; 13 Interceptions; 69.1% passer rating with a QBR of 102.0
I think it’s safe to cut Garoppolo a little slack for now and let him continue evolving. He along with the rest of his young talented mates will only grow from here.
Return of the Defense
Now that the regular season has officially come to an end, certain teams are looking for ways to gain an edge over the competition next season. This includes new hires, fires, trades and everything else in between. One of those teams looking for that edge, the Cleveland Browns. They were among a couple of teams who decided to make an immediate coaching change following their final game.
In fact, the Browns have taken a particular interest in San Fran’s very own defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Since the Niners earned a first-round bye to open the playoffs, that gave other organizations a small interview window for candidates who are participating in the tournament.
Saleh is one of those guys who you knew was due for a promotion. He has already shown what he can do with a healthy squad of talented players. During the first eight games of the season, SF had one of the league’s top ranked defense’s to complement their superior run game.
Had it not been for injuries, I strongly believe the Niners may have shattered numerous defensive records. Of course we all know it’s an unfortunate part of the game, but the fact that Saleh and company were able to keep the ship afloat without losing many games is a huge testament to the job he has done this year. It’s not easy when you have to find replacements for the replacements of the replacements.
That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, but if you can manage to guide the ship in the general direction while waiting for re-enforcements, then you will always have a fighting chance. Not sure what the future holds for coach Saleh, but I would love to sincerely thank him for his contributions while helping to lead our beloved franchise back to the promise land.
This has been one of the most intense and exciting seasons that I could remember. I’m extremely proud of these guys for laying it all on the line on a weekly basis. I’m sure the grind is grueling and bodies are severely battered but the reward will outlive the pain. As we sit back and observe divisional round weekend just think about something…the road to Miami has to go through San Fran!!! How sweet it is indeed.