The San Francisco 49ers have seen their bid to add a sixth Super Bowl to their winning streak in the last four seasons. The franchise has reached one Super Bowl and is one game away from two, reaching back-to-back NFC Championship games in the 2021 and 2022 campaigns.
But Kyle Shanahan and his team failed to cross the line. The most painful loss was their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV when the 49ers gave up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter to Patrick Mahomes and company. Their most recent loss in the title game was out of their hands when Brock Purdy injured his throwing arm, ending the contest in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.
San Francisco has had time to reflect on their loss and will approach the new campaign with optimism as the NFC standings have dropped with the departure of Aaron Rodgers to the Green Bay Packers.
The first NFL picks from betting experts, who studied the events of the last campaign and the offseason, have the Eagles as the leading contenders for the second NFC crown and return to the Super Bowl with the 49ers not far behind. It looks like the two teams are on a collision course again, but the question for San Francisco is whether they can win in the spotlight.
The 49ers cleared their net in the offseason after allowing Jimmy Garoppolo to leave the franchise. Garoppolo was effective as a starter, but has struggled with the team since Shanahan arrived in the Bay Area in 2018. The quarterback has suffered frequent injuries and missed big moments, most notably in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs and in the 2021 NFC title game against Los Angeles. Angeles Rams.
The 2022 season was his story as Garoppolo appeared to be thrown out before the campaign began, losing the starting spot to Trey Lance. Lance’s season-ending injury gave Garoppolo a chance to turn the 49ers into a contender, only for the quarterback to suffer his second season-ending injury in three years. Rookie Purdy donned the mantle and had an impressive performance to lead the franchise NFC Championship Gamebut even he was affected by the injury curse after a collision with Haason Reddick.
Purdy and Lance are now in a battle to be eligible for the start of the 2023 season, as the 49ers move mark Sam Darnold during free time. Shanahan now has an interesting decision regarding the role. Stick with Purdy, who looks like a winner despite being picked in the seventh round. Back to Lance, who has the potential to be a great player in the NFL. Or, go with the former Darnold, who has failed to live up to his billing so far after being taken third overall by the New York Jets in 2018.
The decision will define the 49ers’ season, although there are many other issues. Mike McGlinchey will leave a void as manager after leaving via free agency. Samson Ebukam, Jimmie Ward and Charles Omenihu also left the team. There have been solid signings like Javon Hargrave, Clelin Ferrell, and Jon Feliciano. The loss of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will also cause problems, although the move of veteran coach Steve Wilks could be a good way to avoid leaving.
Cross the line
The 49ers have been cursed with several injuries in recent years. Garoppolo and Purdy’s issues during tough times have been costly, but there have also been several other players who have been dropped. Call it bad luck or poor injury management, fitness issues have played a major role in the 49ers’ inability to win a Super Bowl under Shanahan despite having one of the most talented players in the league.
San Francisco he has also been accused of not playing hard. When the 49ers needed a stop against the Los Angeles Rams in the 2021 NFC Championship Game, they failed to stop Matt Stafford and company, allowing 13 points in the fourth quarter. Garoppolo then missed a drive with two minutes left when a field goal was all that was needed to increase the lead.
It was almost the same game as Super Bowl LIV when the 49ers broke down under pressure on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter. The defense gave up a point, while Garoppolo missed a crucial throw that would have put the game back in the 49ers’ favor.
The 2022 NFC Championship Game slipped out of San Francisco’s hands with Purdy’s injury forcing Josh Johnson into action. When you’re down to your fourth-string quarterback, no head coach and players can do it against a team as strong as the Eagles. The concern that their defense was exposed by Jalen Hurts, which must be answered if the two teams meet again in the postseason. The 49ers need to learn from their experience against Hurts to slow down the Eagles quarterback and his electric offense.
But, the focus will be on Shanahan and his coaching under pressure. He has had a history of being difficult to watch, starting in his days as an offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons, when his offense failed to close the game against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, despite having a 25-point lead. The Chiefs’ loss to the Rams proved he still has issues with his fourth coach. Unless they win in 2023, the 49ers will be back.
The 49ers are already a solid lock to retain their NFC West crown due to the struggles of the other three teams in the division. The Rams don’t seem ready to return to the postseason, while the Seattle Seahawks, while impressive heading into the playoffs, clearly weren’t ready to step up against Shanahan’s team.
The Arizona Cardinals appear to be in a rebuilding process after another disappointing season. The competition elsewhere looks thin on the ground. The NFC South lacks a dominant team in the division after the retirement of Tom Brady, leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without a reliable quarterback. The NFC North is wide open after Rodgers moved to the Jets, and although the Detroit Lions have changed, they have a long way to go to match the quality of San Francisco and Philadelphia.
The NFC East made the final three teams in 2022 and could repeat that with the Eagles looking the best in the division and the conference as a whole. The Dallas Cowboys will be hot on their heels, but their playoff acumen is much worse than the 49ers, constantly falling under pressure. The New York Giants had a great first season under Brian Daboll, but continuing these phases will be difficult as their game plan has been studied for a year by opposing defenses.
The 49ers also have their own questions, with more talk at the quarterback position coming into training camp. Shanahan has proven that he can win with almost anyone at quarterback and there are three good ways he can work in 2023. Everyone knows that the 49ers are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL when there are no injuries, but the acid test will be tested in the playoffs when the pressure will be there. will end their 29-year Super Bowl drought.