Is the 49ers Super Bowl window closing?

The San Francisco 49ers have been on a quest to win the sixth Super Bowl title in franchise history for 28 years. They’ve come close recently, reaching a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games over the last four seasons.

Over the last few seasons there have been one consistent question, how long the 49ers Super Bowl window will be open?

The answer is simple, as long as Kyle Shanahan is in charge and has a healthy quarterback the 49ers will be contenders.

Let me explain.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have built a roster which doesn’t show any signs of falling off soon. The core of the team is made up of young stars, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, Talanoa Hufanga, Charvarius Ward, Dre Greenlaw to name a few on defense. On offense there is Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk and Trent Williams.

Around the stars San Francisco has several young players.

Since 2019 the 49ers have changed over nearly the entire offensive line. The only member of the starting offensive line in the Super Bowl that season still with the team in 2022 was Mike McGlinchey. According to reports he won’t be back with team next season. In his place will be a less costly option such as Colton McKivitz or Daniel Brunskill. A draft pick or free agent addition are other options.

At wide receiver and running back, only Samuel and Juszczyk remain. Three of the 49ers five backs will be going into year two or three next season. San Francisco is in a similar situation at wide receiver as well.

On the defensive side, the 49ers have Bosa and Arik Armstead to anchor the defensive line. Around the two veterans will are 2022 draft pick Drake Jackson and Javon Kinlaw. Kalia Davis spent nearly his entire first year rehabbing from a knee injury sustained in college. Look for the athletic defensive tackle to compete for a spot in the defensive line rotation with Kevin Givens.

San Francisco is stacked at linebacker. In addition to Warner and Greenlaw the 49ers have Oren Burks and Marcelino McCray-Ball locked up for 2023. McCrary-Ball turned heads throughout training camp and preseason last season. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is slated to become a restricted free agent, however the 49ers will likely tender him if a deal cannot be reached.

The one spot which is currently a question mark would be the secondary. Jimmie Ward is set to become a free agent as are Tashaun Gipson and Emmanuel Moseley. Still, the 49ers look to return three of five starters from week one last season.

Charvarius Ward and Talanoa Hufanga lead this group, while Samuel Womack shined during training camp to start the season as the top option in the slot. Deommodore Lenoir showed major improvement his second season with the team as well.

The key here is figuring out who the free safety will be. Will Gipson return for another season? Even if he does the 49ers should be looking to add a player here through the draft. George Odum is a decent backup and special teams standout.

Speaking of special teams, the 49ers locked up Taybor Pepper to a new three-year deal last week. The long snapper and punter Mitch Wishnowsky are set to return while the future of Robbie Gould is in question.

This article has 33 Comments

  1. This team from top to bottom is about winning and this includes the FO. They are a well oiled machine and their ability to build a strong roster is outstanding. They mostly build through the draft as any quality franchise knows they have to do and they do a great job of that. Then they are very selective in the FA market. I know the QB situation is a little unsettled right now but they have 2 young potentially very good starters. I think they are in the best position they’ve been in under Shanahan. He also tries to put together the best possible group of coaches and has given the league 3 new head coaches in the last 3 years. These are some of the reasons I rank Shanahan only behind Walsh and don’t discount that he may someday be #1.

  2. I think the team’s window is greatly effected by the presence of an All Pro Left Tackle. The 49ers have been lucky enough to have one for the past 16 years. But Trent William’s window is closing and counting on finding another plug and play all pro Left Tackle isn’t likely. Two things would help mitigate the loss of Williams: 1. the improved/dominant play by the rest of the line in both the run game and the passing game. A consistent on a game by game basis…rushing attack. The 49ers have one of the most effective rushing attacks in the league. But it tends to be explosive and then sputter out and then be explosive again. 2. The development of a QB that is in synch with his receivers and aware of the rushers. A good QB that feels the flow and controls the flow of the game can make an offensive line (even one with problems) look good.

    But the stalwarts on the defense will also help mitigate some of the other instabilities on the team. Having Bosa locked up (I’m going to assume they sign him to an extension), Warner, Greenlaw and Charvereus Ward are corner stones on the defense that are here for the next few years. Having playmakers like Deebo and Kittle also help to stabilize things.

    But as always it’s going to come down to QB play and development, fortifying the offensive line and what to do about the interior defensive line.

  3. Jack,
    I think the 49ers D is set for quite awhile. Which should keep them in the playoff picture. If there is any question it surrounds the O. QB is still a question but they should know that answer by the end of next season. Williams is their best offensive players he is getting old and misses at least a few games every year. Kittle is getting up there and also has a difficult time staying healthy. The same can be said about CMC. While Deebo is still young he is also injury prone. Juice is getting old. The O line with the exception of Williams is young but not incredibly impressive. I think their window is 2 maybe 3 years long. That doesn’t mean they won’t make some good moves and expand the window. If one of the QBs workout and they are able to put together a relatively cheap and young O line it would go a long way towards extending their window. imho

    1. Deebo is actually older than McCaffery. Which of the two of them has more wear and tear on them is debatable.

      1. At least CMC seems to always be in shape. Deebo’s fitness is frequently questionable, likely leading to him getting so many soft tissue injuries. I hope Deebo has himself in shape after last year. Deebo was mostly irrelevant to the offense last season, and at times was even a black hole.

    2. OC,

      They’ve been able to overcome injuries to each of those players but have never been without all of them together, so I see where you are coming from. On the offense I think it just comes down to having the right QB and keeping him healthy. They’ve done a good job of stocking the cupboards to this point.

  4. I don’t think the window is closing just yet. I think Purdy’s discovery has seemingly opened it a bit further or at least is keeping it open. Overall, the team has a lot of talent. Yes, there are a couple of holes that will likely open after the start of free agency, but the front office is pretty good at identifying those early and developing a plan to address them. One thing I know for sure, the 49ers are prepared for the departure of Mike McGlinchey and Jimmie Ward. I don’t know what their plan is…but they’ve been developing it for quite some time.

  5. i got a hot take……( whats the fun in everyone agreeing all the time lol)….

    Our SB window hasn’t EVEN OPENED YET!!!
    I’ll explain…… whats the most important position in todays game? Its qb, by far!
    Everything KS has accomplished so far….he’s done without a top tier qb ( i say this cos its true, even though i love JG and appreciate him and value him more than most)……the fact is JG was middle of the pack at best. Look at the top 4 teams from this year…..all benefited from top tier, elite qb play except us!

    I think we have our qb on the roster….and by 2024 hopefully we not only no which one it is, but that they have also established being a top tier guy.
    Many ppl may think its Purdy, after his great season……
    But i would point out that BP gave a solid Jimmy Goropollo season! Lots of wins and good numbers ( the stats where eerily similar, it surprised me. They eye test goes to Purdy hands downs though)…..
    Remember though…….we gave up 3 first round picks to get an UPGRADE over JG!!! So it surprises me to see so many eager to move on from Trey without ever seeing him get a shot…….for a younger cheaper version of JG…..the guy we all chased off!

  6. another thought i had on this team and how it pertains to the idea of a “SB window”……
    its will always be open! As long as we have KS as coach and this strong FO/ scouting department.
    They remind me of a college program, like Alabama. Alabama’s window is “every year under Saban”.
    They just reload each year and have talent at every position. There stacked at every position ,guys leave or get hurt… players step up and make a name for themselves.
    We redshirt rookies…..high draft picks get beat out for lower picks and UDRFA’s……just like in college, where star recruits could get beat out by lower ones, transfers or walk ons.

  7. It’s interesting the more I think about the 49er’s offensive personnel and how specialized it is for how Shanahan designs his defense…..and how that specialization may make them vulnerable to a degree for the “window” to start to close. The first one that sticks out is Kittle. We all love Kittle’s rugged runs after the catch. He’s a security blanket for the QB and a big play waiting to happen. But he’s somewhat of a “unicorn” in the modern NFL. Kittle is not only a pass catcher but also one of the better blocking TEs (probably the top blocking top tier receiving TE) in the league. That kind of versatility allows Kyle Shanahan to more often stay in 21 personnel and even run out of 11 personnel easier. This allows the offense to keep defenses on their toes as to run/pass intentions by the offense. The other player to consider is Juszczyk. His Fullback position has become a dinosaur in the NFL. Blocking Fullbacks just aren’t used much in the NFL anymore. But a blocking Fullback that can effectively catch and line up all over the formation is another modern NFL “unicorn”. Sure CMC and Deebo are also unique talents. But their skills can be made up for in aggregate. You do that as well with Kittle and Juszczyk but you’d drastically alter the personnel group and playcalling versatility. I don’t see Kittle and Juszczyk easily replaced….so I wonder if and how that effects the “window”.

  8. Nope. We still need a QB and a coach. Purdy is just a backup and Lance is too fragile. Shanahan will never put us over the top because he coaches scared or quits in big moments. You fools can deny it all you want but his record in big games speaks for themselves. WAKE UP!

  9. I think the window is closing rapidly. Look at their Cap situation. $8 million +/- in current Cap space. $8 million needed to sign their Draft class. That means they will have to restructure or trade a future dead Cap big hit or both.. 21 UFA’s means they will need anywhere from $11 million on up. And $11 milllion only gets you a combo of 21 rookies and UDFA’s. If you want to sign Vet FA’s they are $1 million on up with $1 million buying you league minimim Vets.. They will need a lot more Cap space if they want to address all needs.

    So what does this all mean? If they restructure Armstead, CMC, Trent Williams, Fred Warner and George Kittle you are essentially looking at a lot of future dead cap money on all above less Warner. Guys who will likely lose productivity in these out years but on the Cap hook in future out years. A bunch of Dee Ford’s..

    I believe what Kyle and John have decided is to morgtage the future similar to what Sean McVay did with the Rams and go for the Lombardi and either win it which would buy some credibility rebuilding like Sean is now doing.. Or get fired if the gamble fails leaving the next regime in a Cap shambles..

    The fact that it was reported by Mike Silver that they have approched Tom Brady about unretiring to play for SF says it all. At this point all signs point to 2023 as an all out push for the Lombardi Trophy. And all likely hinges on Brady with Purdy looking less and less likely to be ready to play and a no confidence vote on Trey Lance..

    Not having a viable QB could derail this whole “All in” plan. Do less restructuring and going with cheap Rookies, UDFA’s and league minimum Vet FA’s.. Again it is looking like Brady is the key to going aggressive with restructuring unless Purdy has the surgery and is given a quick rehab to 100% scenario prognosis. All this should play out in the next 2-3 weeks..

    1. Kyle and Lynch have said numerous times they won’t mortgage the future for the present. I also don’t believe Mike Silvers reporting. They are frugal when it comes to free agents, even their own. Sure they will do some restructuring and sign some free agents but they will also loose some like possibly Jimmy Ward and McGlinchy.
      They have a team effort in choosing draft picks and free agents. They are all on the same page unlike many teams. This is why they are so successful with their roster. They have a solid plan and baring injuries will always be one of the top teams. They will always be trying to win the SB and will win a few but this also requires luck which so far they haven’t been that good at.

      1. Also the 49er’s projected cap space without restructuring and without signing Bosa in 2024 is about $52M (per overthecap). With Bosa in 2024 the cap will probably be about $30M (probably $30M/Y average but less on the front in) with out restructures. of other contracts

    2. You should look at the specific contracts. Armstead, Deebo, Ward, Greenlaw and Kittle all have 1-2 VOID YEARS at the end of their contracts. Those years are there to spread out the initial signing bonus. But they’re also there to redistribute salary into a new signing bonus/guaranteed money. So restructuring contracts isn’t as much of the painful mortgaging of the future as you think it is.

  10. I tend to agree. As long as Shanahan is a coach, there’s a chance. This is probably a false narrative but I have this strong Tom Osborne vibe with Shanahan. Osborne was a very good coach who couldn’t win bowl games or really big games. Had a great record but he wasn’t a top guy until after many years. Then when he finally got over the top, he created a dynasty. I think Shanahan has that in him as a coach. He needs to adjust to protect his QB more but if Trey Lance or Brock Purdy really can become the guy, there are multiple Superbowls in that combination. I do worry about burnout for Shanahan though. The life of an NFL coach is a grind. Not easy on the body, mind, or spirit. Hopefully he finds ways to handle those stresses.

  11. 1;6, I get Andy Reid vibes from KS. Offensive guru, in the final 4 almost every year, still trying to win the big one ( AR eagles career). I would argue Mcnabb a better qb than JG though.
    Blaming KS for not “winning the big one” vs “praising him for getting there every year”……… its the question of the “chicken or the egg”.
    I praise him for getting there every year personally. I been watching football 35 years…..sustained success is hard and very rare……and even rarer without a HoF qb.

  12. Three players to watch at the combine.
    Caleb Murphy Ferris St. DE
    Clayton Tune Hous QB
    Josh Whyle Cinn TE

  13. Old coach
    Caleb Murphy: Div I 25.5 sacks….How well does his game translate to the NFL? Will he need a year
    in the Gym to be strong enough?
    Combine drill to watch: Figure 8

  14. Old Coach
    I had not checked out Houston QB, Clayton Tune. As a 5th year senior Tune saw action in 12 games as he threw for an impressive 836 yards on 469 attempts with a completion percent of 67.2 for an average of 8.2 yards per pass, with 37 TDs, while taking 23 sacks, and totaling a QB rating of 109.5. He added 101 runs for a total of 622 yards at an average of 6.2 per run.:
    * As a 2021 Senior he threw for 3541 yards on 425 attempts with a completion percent of 67.8, for an average of 8.3 yards per pass, with 30 TDs.
    * Tune has average arm strength and like all Houston QBs the inflated numbers are often regarded as more a product of the offensive system rather than QB play.
    * If he shows well at the Combine and is still available in the 6th Rd (pick # 216), I could see KS drafting him.

    Josh Whyle Cinn TE: A possession receiver with good hands that can block. A QB red zone jump ball safety blanket.
    * He has three consecutive 300+ receiving yard seasons at Cincinnati and averaged 12 yards per reception over his career. A 5th Rd (#173) draft pick if he shows well at the Combine?

    1. Geep,
      I was looking for day three picks. What positions do you think they will use their 3 3rd round picks on? I think DT, OT and either S or TE.

      1. Old Coach
        Players on my pre Combine big board: Rd 7:
        * EDGE Nick Hampton, Appalachian State (I expect he’ll move up to 6th Rd, maybe 5th after Combine)?
        * S Trey Dean III Florida (also expect Dean will move up to 6h Rd after Combine)?
        * I would draft either at pick # 224 if still available.

        * Pick # 224 Payne Durham, TE Purdue, DT Nesta Jade Silvera Arizona State, or DT Broadric Marton W. Kentucky
        * Pick # 249 Place kicker Harrison Mevis, Missouri OR OL McClendon Curtis: Chattanooga
        * Pick # 255 LB Isaiah Land: Florida A&M (Played EDGE for A&M but will be moved to NFL LB,,,,,,OR…….
        * Pick # 255 OT Trevor Reid, Louisville A year or 2 on the PS and NFL coaching and IMO, Reid will be a reliable back up OT

        * WR Justin Shorter, Florida
        * NB / SS Marte Mapu Sacramento State
        * CB TYLER SCOTT, CINCINNATI (can he show projected 40 time of 4.42s at combine)?
        ^ CB / NB STARLING THOMAS V, UAB (2 tear Practice squad candidate)

        1. Geep,
          If the 49ers don’t resign Gould would you wait until the 7th round to draft a kicker? In that scenario I wouldn’t wait until the 7th round. I would draft the best kicker available maybe in the 5th round. Chad Ryland seems to be the consensus top pick. The DA in San Diego refused to press charges against Matt Araiza, do you think he is signable? I would like to see the 9ers franchise tag Gould then draft a K in the 7th round who would be the 49ers KO specialist and understudy to Gould for a year or two.

          1. Old Coach
            * IMO, $5.4 million is too much to resign Gould. I’d use the money to resign 9er free agents.
            * “Chad Ryland seems to be the consensus top pick.?” Where are you seeing that?
            TOP 5 Kickers I’m seeing on 2023 NFL draft boards:
            1) Harrison Mevis, Missouri
            2) Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
            3) Jake Moody, Michigan
            4) Noah Ruggles, Ohio State
            5) Christopher Dunn, NC State
            * I’m seeing Chad Ryland listed as an HONORALBE MENTION, along with Zack Long, Tulsa, Brayden Narveson, W. Kentucky and vin Baechle, UTEP

            RE Matt Araiza, Yea, he’s good, Ray Guy award, nations top punter, dual threat, etc. etc. But I would pass on him! Not to judge him, but IMO, I think he is still a distraction.

            1. Geep,
              I think if you are going to be a top 4 team in the NFL the K position become that much more important. A missed FG can be the difference between winning the NFCCG or losing the NFCCG. The same holds for the SB. Where as a missed FG for other teams is the difference between going 5-12 or 4-13. My concern with Gould is his inability to KO into the end zone. I would like to see them draft a strong leg in the 7th round and keep him on the active roster to KO and be mentored by RG. They could keep the K on the active roster by keeping one less ST player, say Ambrey Thomas or Tavarius Moore. Ryland was rated #1 by CBS (I really don’t have much knowledge of PK)

    2. I like Tune. Checked him out a few times this past season and he’s been solid. Very good arm strength and nimble enough to gain positive yards if he needs to scramble.

      Honesty, in watching Tune, the player that impressed me the most on Houston’s team was WR Nathaniel “Tank” Dell.
      He was Tune’s highest target and he didn’t disappoint. I mentioned Dell last month and compared him to a DeSean Jackson clone.
      Small (very small) stature, but very highly productive as well.
      Hopefully, he’s in the 49ers line-of-sight in day three.

        1. I believe so. But Gray didn’t exactly make a splash play that reminded or confirmed the 49ers reason for drafting him. Hopefully, Danny can get on the field a little more next season.

          Dell is fearless on the field and plays much larger for his size. Heck, there’s a reason why he earned the moniker “Tank.”
          I only wonder what his draft range would be. Maybe somewhere between rd 4-6, if GMs aren’t scared away at his size.

          1. NFL draft buzz has him as a mid 2nd round pick. If there is one position I don’t believe the 49ers will draft for it is WR. They already have Aiyuk, Deebo, Jennings, Gray and McCloud. I think they will draft OT, DT, DE, S, QB, TE,C, and K

            1. I was thinking more in terms special teams – kick and punt returner. But definitely not using a 2 rd pick or even a 3rd rd.

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