49ers exceeding expectations in key areas

San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (29) celebrates after recovering a fumble by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SANTA CLARA — No one expected the 49ers would demolish the Packers by 29 points last Sunday.

No one expected the 49ers would make Aaron Rodgers look old, scared and just plain awful.

No one expected the 49ers would be 10-1 right now.

Even the most optimistic projections failed to predict just how good the 49ers would be this season. They’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders — they might even be the favorites. Hard to imagine just a few months ago.

Here are the top five ways the 49ers have exceeded expectations.

Happy Thanksgiving.

This article has 83 Comments

  1. Bold prediction: Baltimore 16 SF 24, Saleh gets offered Dallas’s HC position in the off season. Could be an attractive stop if he believes JJ won’t live another 3 years to meddle.
    I hope they keep the coaching staff intact one more season and give Saleh an opportunity to replace Bill B in New England.

    1. Nice article Grant, spot on with all 5 players. I’d add a 6th Niner to your list – your boy Ross Dwelley, not because he’s necessarily exceeded expectations as a TE, but because of his unexpected versatility, filling what could have been a huge void, after Juszczyk went down.

      I’m not exactly surprised by Deebo’s steadily improved play, but boy oh boy, I knew he was a little bulldog, but I had no idea he was this fast and explosive with the ball in his hands. He can go from 0-21 MPH in a heartbeat, which is mighty impressive for a WR who plays like a man possessed in terms of his physicality. If Jalen Hurd is who I think he is, the Niners should be in good shape at the WR position for the foreseeable future, even if Sanders doesn’t stick around.

        1. “Barring a surprise comeback in their final five games, the LA Rams’ off-season will start much earlier than planned, and it’s going to be a tricky one.”

          To say the Rams’ are in salary-cap trouble moving forward, would be an understatement! They went all in, pushing all their chips on the Pass Line, and it looks like they came up snake eyes!

          1. Speaking of salary caps, where are the 9ers as of today? How much of an increase in the cap can teams expect next year? Where will the 9ers be after they clear out the deadwood at the beginning of next years FA signing period?

            1. I suspect the Niners will make restructuring Garoppolo’s contract the first order of business this offseason. The second order of business will likely be getting themselves out of McKinnon’s contract.

              1. I believe the 49ERS have somewhere in the area of a projected $27M in cap space for 2020. However, we can expect that number to change drastically with the creative Paraag Marathe in the house.

  2. Hey Grant,
    Deebo has 296 yds over the last three games. Not 196.
    Good read. You called out Pettis for what he is. I was dead wrong about him. Now I’ll be stunned if he ever turns it around.

  3. All five were spot on. I would add that 6) Bosa was who we hoped he would be, and more; and 7) our TE depth, especially Dwelley, have maintained a good passing game during the injury period with the tackles and Kittle.

    I am hoping that Grant’s characterization of Pettis this year is spot on as well. But I don’t see this as a sophomore slump unless he puts on some strength and can start to take on the tough catches.

  4. Only people who live in the negative didn’t have expectations. Others like Razor, Md, Cassie, Rib, myself are not surprised by the results of the team.

    1. Under I am pretty sure it’s not as black and white as that. There are always those who live in the negative and hate everything the team does. Then there are those who have been predicting a winning record every season since Harbaugh left. Some saying Gabbert would make the pro bowl. That’s been fantasy as well. There’s a third group who tries to walk the line between the two. I thought we’d be 8-8 this year and thought 10 wins was another season off. I clearly missed how good we could be this year.

    2. UC, I think 10-1 has gotta surprise everyone. A bit 😁 In my preseason defense of the team to, SourYeast I think it was (Sour, where are you man???), there were 3 things I didn’t foresee:

      1. The quality depth behind the OL starters. I was thinking Staley missing considerable time would lead to .500 at best.
      2. The immediate impact of Bosa. The guy was going to be good, no doubt but potential DPOY good? Razor, did you even think that? Honestly? 😎
      3. The collapse of the Rams, opening up the division, and likely 2 extra unaccounted for wins for the Niners (Now if only the Seahawks would do a little collapsing on their own)

      1. Rib, I’m around. I’ve been preocupied by what is going on in my home country of Chile right now so that is taking up my extra time.

        It is a happy surprise that the 49ers are as dominant as that and generally agree with UC.

  5. The talking heads don’t believe we have the talent in the secondary to play man to man, but I beg to differ. We may not have Gilmore, but the return of Witherspoon allows Saleh to lean towards more man coverage in conjunction with that attacking style they like to play up front.

    Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

    1. Razor,
      In playing man, is there a chance that all DBs will have their backs turned and LJ will run into the middle if there is space. I noticed that LJ has done this in the past.

      1. Press man, press zone, press combo’s, along with pressure up front should minimize his damage. Just gotta make sure you track with angular leverage, and hit him with authority everytime….

        1. We’ll see if Roman calls many designed runs against the fast and violent Niners’ D. The front 7 will have to need to have their heads on swivels. Going to be an interesting Salah-Roman chess match with a powerful “queen” in LJ.

  6. For us to win I believe the offense has to move the football consistently and score points. I think we will. On defense, the D-Line has to be extremely discipline. Stay in your gaps at all cost. Our DE’s have a seriously problem crashing down hard. That can’t happen Sunday. I believe we should go man. Put Witherspoon on Hollywood Brown and Sherman on his favorite TE. Force Lamar to beat us with his arm.

  7. Happy giving thanks every one!
    I want to give a big shout out of thanks to sebnynah1, sebnynah2.0, sebnynah3, sebnynah4 ,sebnynah5, sebnynah007, catfish, PT, click, the last ogasawara, ribico , FRM, TomD, monty and many others that took so many efforts to get rid of sebnoying. This blog became a nuisance and was dominated by annoying post and ridiculous personal attacks because of one person’s puerile need to have the last word. The host didn’t help to stop it by calling the perpetrator a ‘victim’ but in the end even Grant saw the errors of his ways and asked sebbie to stop engaging others.
    As a result we now have an enjoyable site again!
    sebnynah, Sebastopaul, sebbie or however you want to affectionately call him deserves kudos for finally seeing the light and sticking to football instead of trying to stick it to others!
    If Paul can change so can others.
    Let the games begin!
    GO NINERS!!!!!

    1. Now now Dee. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s not exclude anyone from the blessings of this season. And by season, you know which one we are all here for! When someone says they are just a long time Niner fan who wants to see a return to greatness, isn’t he really speaking for us all?

      1. hummmmmm rib, not sure what you are reading into my post but I was actually sincere in being grateful that the annoying seb is gone. For Grant he is already the anointed one, but for the rest of us he will just be the wild, wooly prophet!

        1. It’s all good Dee. The one thing about the Seb clones, it’s made me pretty much scroll past anything that has a sebnynah handle attached to it. How can one be responsive to postings when those postings are just crafted as replicas with the most hackneyed aspects the original poster. Who can tell the difference anymore? Not worth getting riled over a mirage.

          Anyway, Go Niners and test the crap out of Next.

          1. Trying to sneak a few moments on this thanks for giving day and I can now see that my post was a little confusing and portraying the opposite of what I was trying to convey.
            Let me try to do it in more simple terms.
            I’m thankful that the old seb is gone and has been replaced by the new -football only- seb.
            Despite some snarky swipes from old bygones, it’s good to have him on board.
            GO ALL THE WAY!!!!!

            1. I apologize for any past trespasses.
              I apologize for any unwarranted name-calling.
              But I wont apologize for the NINERS!

      1. Thanks Paul!
        Same to you,
        but I was hoping to see that you had grown beyond name calling….
        or is it a term of endearment?

        1. Don’t listen to the trash trolls Seb. He calls you names like.. sebnoying and Sebastopaul, sebbie, making fun of you. And your pyscho imposter is something else, too bad he can’t get a life.

  8. 5 ways to enjoy yourThanksgiving day!

    1. Feel blessed and appreciative to be able to spend time with family, friends, or both (I’ll hang with the grandkids)
    2. Put the phones down and talk to each other (I might have to pry them from some hands) Put a bowl out for all phones to surrender!
    3. Have plenty of beer(me), wine, spirits, or other things(Seb), on hand for those in need
    4. Put a note on the front door (NO POLITICS) I’ll have a good blend of Red and Blue today among the 40ish attending.
    5. Don’t overcook the turkey(s) I’m cooking the usual three.

    Have a great day all!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I saw some on-line source had a recipe for cannabis infused gravy for stressed out celebrants. Our group of 9 (From 72 to 7 years) will congregate and get along great without outside help. The younger among us will only just peek at their phones, not respond. We’ve got Friday set as phone day to catch up with far flung families from Mass to San Diego to Minnesota and Illinois to Nashville, Philly, Kansas City, Maui and Da Big Island and the Bay Area.
      I’m thankful for all the rascals in my extended family. Enjoy your holiday.

  9. Pumpkin, Apple, (all grown here)and a banana coffee cake that we’re making! Something else will show up I’m sure! And of course real whipped cream! No canned!!

  10. Happy Thanksgiving Faithful. I hope you fully enjoy and appreciate all your loved ones. May your holiday buzz never fade and you never cross from buzzed to drunk. Enjoy a great day of family, fun, and football!

  11. I will take a knee this Thanksgiving in recognition of the sacrifices Kaep, a true hero, has made for equality and justice.
    I am already planning to make a Kaepernick pie complete with a massive hairball topping. I’ve been practicing and I think I will be able to get all those tats just right with my trusty frosting dispenser funnel pen.
    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

  12. From the real seb, I wish all a happy Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for, even in these difficult times.
    I am thankful for all the joy the Niners have given us, and that Cal has won back the axe (sorry JL).
    I am planning on bringing my Backgammon set, Cribbage board, and Settlers of Catan game, and stay scrupulously away from politics.
    Rib, thank you for your kind words.
    Juan, THREE turkeys? You must have quite a crowd. Gobble gobble. ;p

  13. I am hoping Saleh goes balls-out like Patricia and blitzes and plays some man-press in trying to contain Lamar- if he shuts him down, it is likely he will become a top-5 candidate in the soon to be discussed head coaching gigs. I wonder about moving Tartt into the box as a full-time spy/run defender (I don’t know if he has the speed to cover Jackson tho).

    Happy bird day- I always miss Barry Sanders a bit more today.

      1. I would be worried about the collisions Ward would be taking on between Ingram and their FB………

        You basically go single-high safety at this point and puts some pressure on the Corners, but I think getting consistent pressure and containment might be worth it- Jackson’s throws during the LA game were largely to wide open targets, let’s hope we make him make some tough throws.

        * I think Saleh is going to employ the containment model- I would have to assume they threw a lot of different looks at RW while in Seattle and it is a bend, don’t break model.

  14. Getting back to the post, I think another major factor is the come back of JG. He showed he can take a hit, and has managed several comebacks in the 4th quarter to win games. His leadership cannot be over stated.

  15. I think this is the game where we really start to think about the loss of Kwon Alexander. You need more than 1 great, fast linebacker to defend Lamar. Also worried about the wide running lanes for the QB because of our wide 9 scheme. It’ll be interesting to see how Saleh gameplans for limiting his running ability. All 4 corners have to play out of their minds so that we can dedicate Warner or a safety to spying on Jackson.

    1. I disagree. The blueprint for beating the Ravens was laid down last year by San Diego in the playoffs. They played 7 DBs for the entire game. This allows the defense to neutralize Jackson’s speed. In this scheme, the role of LBs is minimal. So, absence of Kwon won’t have much of an impact on this game.

      I expect the 49ers defense to play a lot snaps with 6+ DBs on the field.

      1. I haven’t read the article you posted, but Mark Ingram will run over our DBs if there are no LBs. DBs can’t take that kind of punishment for an entire game. Ingram has been running very hard and angry.

        1. It sounds intriguing but can our DB’s line up and diagnose plays like the LB’s. Seems like it would negate Lamar but allow Ingram to have a field day. Seems like a lot to have DB’s learn a new position, maybe that’s what it takes?

        2. That Chargers “blueprint” from last year was tossed into the dustbin by the Ravens with the acquisition of Ingram and his power running game this season that punishes smaller and lighter defnders. No team will ever play 7 DBs against the Ravens again, maybe unless it’s third and long.

        3. They don’t have to take Warner off the field if they go with 6 DB’s and play Moore up at LB kinda like what they did with Reid back in ‘17

          1. No they don’t and that’s something they did against the Packers. But the article that is being referred to as the “blueprint” talks about taking all the LBs off the field and using 7 DBs. Don’t see the 49ers doing that.

          2. Expect to see a lot of 5 and 6 DB looks. It will take a creative approach to stop the Ravens. I’m not too concerned about Ingram, however. If the 49ers front 4 controls the line – which is likely with Ravens starting center out – Ingram can be neutralized. San Diego – in the “blueprint” game last year – was able to generate pressure on Jackson with rushing only 4. I expect a repeat of the same defensive game plan from Saleh.

            1. I think Razor provided a stat that measured how well the Ravens offense played after the starting center went out last week (I don’t remember the exact stat). Anyway, the result was essentially no difference with the backup center in.

            2. I expect to see a lot of 5 and 6 DB looks from the 49ers as well this week, with Ward coming down as a dime DB/pseudo LB and Moore at FS. But I also expect Warner to play every defensive snap and Greenlaw will get a decent number of snaps too. The 49ers D is built on speed and athleticism, and that includes the LBs. I don’t think Saleh will feel the need to take those guys off the field to combat Jackson’s speed.

  16. Wonder if the content of this blog is being consumed by hyper-intelligent lifeforms a few dozen lightyears away…

  17. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
    Go Niners.
    Bears have been pretenders all year, team has a lot of problems from Head Coach, QB, OL and DL.
    You can also put the Coyboys also in the pretenders group.

  18. Jimmy Garoppolo on the 10 drives for #49ers following his INTs this season is 32 for 35 for 288 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a 120 passer rating

    Plz throw more int Jimmy….

  19. No one expected the 49ers would demolish the Packers by 29 points last Sunday.

    No one expected the 49ers would make Aaron Rodgers look old, scared and just plain awful.

    No one expected the 49ers would be 10-1 right now.

    Even the most optimistic projections failed to predict just how good the 49ers would be this season. They’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders — they might even be the favorites. Hard to imagine just a few months ago.

    Ummmm I did….
    I said it for the beginning they would destroy the a packers and literally embarrass them!
    Overrated media team.!

    called an 11-5 or 12-4 record.
    Said the secondary wouldn’t be a problem with this pass rush and got a little heat from the opposite thinkers who believed you have to have a strong secondary first.

    Alas Armstead would blow this year with the new lines coaches and playing on a contract year.

    Didn’t see Brunskill playing this well.

    Said Warner would improve into a pro bowler.
    Hoped Deebo would have atleast 700 yards and 10 TD’… TBD
    Btw this was all under the presumption they will and would be healthy.

    On the other side.
    I said Pettis would be the kittle of last season and breakout.
    Boy was I wrong,
    I also said Goodwin would have a big year.
    Bzzzzzz wring again.
    I said they would sweep the division.
    A kid off the street missing a FG killed that.

    But don’t say “Nobody” saw this success coming!
    Just the pessimists and the idiots on TV who don’t know squat about this team.

    1. Good call Niner. Do you think the media’s 2018 predictions influenced their 2019 predictions? So many of them went overboard on our record and when the team fell apart they all jumped ship. They were more cautious this year.

      What were your 2017 and 2018 predictions?

      I was 6-10 and 8-8 for those years and 6-10 this year because of all the returning players with major injuries, Glad to be wrong.

      1. Wilson…… I had SF last year at 10 wins.
        Hardheaded me thought the injury parade would be over.
        As soon as Jimmy went down I knew that was a pipe dream.
        This years predictions were promptly followed by “if healthy” lol
        Make no mistake the new position coaches have a lot to do with the success on the defense this year.
        As far as the “specialists” who are on tv have always been caught up on the season prior. Very few like Cowherd saw the talent and this storm coming.
        I think they just don’t study this team enough. So they stay with who is hot the season prior.

        Touché on the good call. Me and my buddy have talked about the Staley move. I personally would like to see him back ASAP strictly for the run blocking he is so good at.
        But I can agree this might be a bad game to have him come back after basically 7 weeks off.
        But Staley has always bounced back with very solid performances after a bad game. Then again that was when he didn’t miss a lot of time.
        It will be interesting to see if he does sit him if the struggle continues.
        That would be a huge message, and I wonder if it would be a good or bad move for the chemistry of the team.
        Great point. We shall see.

    2. Good call niner MD!
      Now let’s see if KS has the balls to keep Staley on the bench and play Brunskill.
      Staley has been missing a step after playing for so long. We do better when he’s NOT playing unfortunately.
      Don’t blame the new kicker for our loss, he should NOT have been in the position to decide the game. D let Wilson score and Jimmy did not do his part.

      1. Mostly agree, but I don’t fault KS for putting the new kicker in that position. Prior to the miss, he had kicked 3 FGs that game and all of those were pretty much down the middle.

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