With just about a week to go before the 49ers open training camp, there is optimism from fans, players and coaches that the 2018 version of the franchise will be much brighter.
There’s reason to believe, too, that the future may be bright for years to come.
One sign: In ESPN’s annual future power rankings, the San Francisco franchise has taken a huge leap. Last year at this time, the 49ers ranked 30th. In rankings just released by the network’s analysts, the Niners rank 13th.
A year ago, GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were rookies, the team lacked a franchise quarterback and there were holes across the roster. This year, Lynch and Shanahan have some positive moves on their resumes, Jimmy Garoppolo appears to be the QB of the present and future and two drafts and free-agent classes have infused the roster with more talent and depth.
As David Fucillo of SB Nation wrote Tuesday, the future rating by ESPN is based on the acquisition of Garoppolo at the trade deadline – a quarterback gives a team the chance to compete every season – and a “significantly re-tooled roster.”
Wrote ESPN’s Field Yates: “Everything shifted for the 49ers when the team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo, stabilizing the most important spot on the roster. Equal enthusiasm surrounds coach Kyle Shanahan, an offensive wizard who will maximize the talent at his disposal. Defensive questions persist for the moment, and while GM John Lynch has made some notable moves early on the job, there is still a larger sample needed for a better feel as to how he will stack up in his current position.”
The team has its quarterback and leadership in place, it’s in a good position with the salary cap to have flexibility for more moves in the near future and it has a wealth of young, possible impact talent in linebacker Reuben Foster, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, defensive linemen DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas and has a re-made offensive line and some high draft picks from this spring (tackle Mike McGlinchey and receiver/returner Dante Pettis) who could play large future roles.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick notes the 49ers still need to prove they can take a big step forward on defense this season – especially in rushing the passer. If that comes together, however, the Niners could add a few victories to their six-win total of 2017 this season, and continue in a positive direction.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Source: NBC Bay Area