SANTA CLARA — The main characters of the 49ers’ dramatic, historic turnaround were mostly rookies.
Twelve rookie draft picks, seven undrafted rookie free agents and one sort-of-kind-of rookie quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo isn’t an actual rookie — he has been in the NFL four seasons. But, he has started only seven games. He has less game experience than many of the real rookies on the 49ers.
“Obviously Jimmy came in and was fabulous,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in the 49ers auditorium Tuesday afternoon. “He was great for us and he made people around him better. I think that’s the mark of a player who has an opportunity to be special — do you make people around you better? He did that.
“There was also a confluence of a bunch of young guys that were improving. Around that same time, a couple things happened. We got healthy after enduring a lot of tough injuries, and the experience level of some of these players and the confidence level started to kick in.”
By the end of the season, the 49ers were one of the hottest teams in the NFL — they won six of their final seven games. And they had 15 rookies on their 53-man roster, plus three more rookies on IR.
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