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NFL Draft

What Is The 49ers’ New Ceiling?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2020
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After participating in the Super Bowl last season, the San Francisco 49ers entered this season with great expectations. Sure, they are playing in the most competitive division in the NFL, but it’s the division that they won in 2019 on their way to winning the NFC Championship. However, this has been an unusual season for the entire NFL. 

COVID-19 has had a tremendous effect on the offseason for players and has also impacted regular season games. I concluded that because players could not train at facilities that they’d been accustomed to due to COVID and the result has been several tendon injuries and we are barely out of the first quarter of the regular season. San Francisco’s roster has been ravaged by injuries. As of this writing, there are 14 San Francisco players on the injured reserve list. One of which is their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.

With all things considered, what is the new ceiling for the 49ers in the division that has the most parity in the NFL?  

At 2-2, they sit behind their biggest threat, the Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson playing out of his mind to begin the season—en route to possibly winning his first NFL MVP. San Francisco’s quarterback situation isn’t as glowing. Nick Mullens had played well against the New York Giants but regressed badly against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week and was eventually benched. The 49ers are now playing with their third-string quarterback, C.J. Beathard. 

If the 49ers can play better up front and get solid play from the duo of Beathard and Mullens (who both happen to be in contract years) until Garoppolo comes back, their new ceiling is 9-7 and a wild-card birth. However, the 49ers have to battle the other two teams in their division for a wild-card spot/seeding. They’ll have to face a hot offense in the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams are currently 3-1. 

Arizona began the season red-hot, winning their first game at San Francisco en route to a 2-0 start. But the injury bug has hit them as well, and their offense, which was supposed to be one of the NFL’s best, has been rather inconsistent. Kyler Murray has had some turnovers and hasn’t been as accurate as he’s been in the past. The defense has always been a work in progress. They currently sit at 2-2.

Meanwhile, the Rams could very easily be 4-0 if it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of Josh Allen in the final moments of their three-point loss in Week 3. However, the real challenges for them lie ahead as they face three of the NFL’s top six defenses over the next three weeks. Their running game has been inconsistent, but Sean McVay has been out of his mind as a play-caller and Jared Goff has been exceptional. They will need all of that to keep pace with the Seahawks. 

With the NFL expanding the postseason from 12 to 14 teams, it isn’t far-fetched that the NFL’s best division fields four playoff teams—especially since we can likely eliminate the NFC East from getting any wild-card spots. 

All in all, San Francisco simply needs to worry about what they can control: themselves. Obviously, injuries are a major part of the game. This takes on even greater importance during an irregular year due to COVID. Can they stay afloat in the toughest division, while they get healthy? I can foresee them finishing the year with eight or nine wins and securing a wild-card birth, which would be huge for them given all of the adversity they’ve faced this season.

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