49ers: Thoughts on the team as the regular season approaches

49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are now less than three weeks away from the start of the regular season.

The 2020 NFL season is still scheduled to begin on time, with many new guidelines and protocols in place.  Football will feel much different than in years past, but I believe I speak for the general sports population when I say, the sport will be a welcomed sight.

There’s much to discuss when talking about the San Francisco 49ers and what we can really expect from this group.  For starters, this season already presents a set of unique challenges such as having no OTAs, no minicamps, and no preseason games.

This poses a difficult problem for rookies, undrafted free agents, and new additions on every team looking to make the roster.

Without exhibition games to adequately evaluate the current talent, coaches will have to rely on previous collegiate data, the offseason work ethic each player puts forth, and their gut feelings.

With that said, it’ll be interesting to see how players adapt to the new normal and what kind of condition they’ll be in.

Despite a solid offseason from the 49ers’ top brass which included a pair of extensions for both Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, the Niners still fell victim to the ever-present injury bug.

After losing projected starter Deebo Samuel, along with fellow receiver Richie James, the 49ers also lost Jalen Hurd for the year due to a torn ACL.

Hurd was expected to not only make the team but have an intricate role in Shanahan’s offense.  Now for the second year in a row, Hurd will have to enjoy his team’s success from the sidelines.

In an effort to compensate for all the recent losses, the Niners have signed a plethora of wideouts in hopes of temporarily filling the void. Veterans like Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson, and most recently added Kevin White will all have a chance to contribute and make the team.

In 2019, the biggest storyline surrounding the 49ers was their stellar defense. Of all the major defensive categories, San Francisco finished top-five in at least seven of them.

Every team goes through plenty of roster turnover from year to year, but whenever there are minimum changes between players, coaches, and staff, that usually bodes well for the franchise.

Fortunately, this is the case for San Francisco as they’ll be returning 18 of the 22 starters from last year’s Super Bowl team. With that many players coming back into a familiar system with familiar coaches, continuity figures to be one of their biggest strengths.

The 49ers have a few things to be concerned about going into 2020.

The most concerning questions for the 49ers heading into the season revolve around the development of their rookie class. Losing DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts via trade is one of the most head-scratching moves John Lynch has made as a GM so far.

From a fan’s perspective, you may feel inclined to run your head through a wall because you never want to see top players leave the team. On the flip side of the coin, you have to factor in all the intangibles it takes to sustain a professional level of success for years to come.

The 49ers aren’t just playing for the immediate future, instead, they seem poised to make a run at becoming the leagues newest dynasty (once again).

Due to the incredible football intellect and cohesiveness between Shanahan and Lynch, the 49ers believe they have found Buckner’s replacement in this year’s draft with rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

Of course, it’s still way too early to put that type of pressure on a rookie, but whenever you get drafted to a Super Bowl contender, huge expectations are sure to follow.

San Francisco was sneaky good with their offseason moves which should help keep the strength of the team intact. Defending their NFC crown will not be an easy feat to accomplish.

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They now have a huge target on their backs, but management has put this team in a position to win now and it is up to the players to get it done.