It’s hard to believe that the San Francisco 49ers appeared in a Super Bowl earlier this decade. Hard times have fallen on the historically superior franchise, and misfortune was only to be seen for the future. Jim Harbaugh was pushed out the door by the organization, veteran players began retiring or were traded away, and draft picks weren’t making the cut. Fans made it painfully obvious that they weren’t supportive during these transitional years as the seats were left barren during home games.

This year a glimpse of hope was being broadcasted across the Bay area when the 49ers signed Kyle Shanahan as their head coach. The offensive coordinator guru was supposed to be the adhesive to finally glue San Fran’s problems shut. Despite being on the pace of yet another miserable season, the blame didn’t linger around Shanahan. Fans knew that it was going to take him time to build his team. Faith in Shanahan proved to be worth the wait as he was able to add Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco roster before the trade deadline.

The Jimmy G era

We saw Garoppolo win games with Bill Belichick last year during Tom Brady’s absence. He looked mighty impressive on the Patriots, but there may have been a curve on the grading scale considering how stacked New England’s franchise has been. When news broke out that Garoppolo was heading to San Francisco there was a harsh moment of silence. The NFC West knew they might have to look out in the near future if the young quarterback were to pan out.

49er fans patiently waited for Jimmy Garoppolo to learn Shanahan’s playbook with hopeful confidence. Their patience was met with gratitude as the San Francisco 49ers have not lost a game with their new star quarterback under center.

The first two games could have been called flukes by the pessimistic crowd. San Francisco barely scraped a win against Chicago winning merely by only one point. The following week the 49ers managed to win by ten points against the Houston Texans, who quizzically have an awful defense this year.

The real test came in week 15 by defeating the Tennessee Titans. The 49ers were down by one point with only a minute left on the clock when Jimmy Garoppolo showed his true potential and brought the team down into field goal range to win the game. That final drive to win the game is exactly the kind of accuracy, leadership, and finesse that Garoppolo can bring to the table in order to obtain a successful career.

Team building exercises

Although the hype is all around the Jimmy G train right now, a star quarterback can’t be the only contributing factor. As mentioned previously, a smart head coach such as Kyle Shanahan will help tremendously on building a great offensive scheme. He already molded Matt Ryan into an MVP last year, so just think about what he can do with someone like Jimmy Garoppolo.

There are two things that every great quarterback needs: a sturdy offensive line, and targets to throw it to.

As of right now, the O-line seems to be a middle-of-the-pack when it comes to rankings. The receiving core has been brightened as of late with Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garçon, but with an opponent like the Jacksonville Jaguars coming up, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea for more talent to be added to the roster. A solid running back also opens up the playbook a lot more, and that is exactly what Carlos Hyde has been for the 49ers.

Once the offense is able to control the time of possession, all that’s left is the defense to do their job on the field. San Francisco picked some great prospects in the draft this year such as Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, and Ahkello Witherspoon to help boost up their defense. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh should have his work cut out for him in helping develop these young players. If done correctly, the San Francisco 49ers might have a top defense in the NFC West.

What’s in store for the future

Not only did Kyle Shanahan have great success in Atlanta with Matt Ryan, but he also developed a deadly one-two punch with their running backs, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. The same success story should transition over to Carlos Hyde, although there may be a problem after the 2017 season. Hyde’s rookie contract will be up and it will beg the question on whether San Francisco will resign him or not.

The easy solution would to just resign their number one running back, but the business of football is never easy. San Francisco can test the waters on how valuable other teams see Carlos Hyde. Perhaps a team that is struggling in the running back department. Maybe a team that is willing to give up a good amount to gain traction in their run game. A team such as the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers are going to have a top ten draft pick again in the 2018 draft. If Seattle is willing to spare a draft pick to San Francisco, then drafting a new running back doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. The best candidate for the job would be Bryce Love from Stanford. He’s a PAC 12 kid that is already acquainted with the west coast style offense. With Shanahan showing him the ropes, he could give San Francisco the same type of threat that Todd Gurley and Jared Goff contribute to the Los Angeles Rams.

As long as the media keeps hyping up the 49ers, it makes the general manager’s job much easier trying to convince free agents to come play for them. Rumors are already floating around whether or not Odell Beckham Jr will stay with the New York Giants after this year. San Francisco has a lot of money to throw around to try and outbid other franchises around the league. Niners Nation report that for the 2018 season San Fran has $50.8 million in their cap space. It might not be the ideal place that Odell is looking for, but if he wants to be the highest paid wide receiver in the league, the 49ers could make that dream happen. It doesn’t hurt that they have Garoppolo as leverage to help convince any wide receiver out in free agency to come play for their team.

Even if their cap space isn’t spent on a stud receiver, they can always try and snatch some veteran defensive players out there. The offseason is always a wild ride on who goes on which team. With so much promise happening in San Francisco right now, it doesn’t sound too crazy to help develop their team. Bring in some extra talent to help out the defense, and all that’s left is to help strengthen the offensive line. A few draft picks in April could always patch up a few holes for that category.

San Francisco is still about a year or two away from being a true threat in the NFC. There is a lot of promise waiting for the franchise until that day emerges. The owners, general manager, and coaches will all have to work together on making intelligent decisions to build another dynasty. The pieces are all set up for success, and now all that is left is for the correct execution to make the possibilities into a reality.

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