Here is your Monday Morning wake-up call:
Peter King, writer for NBC Sports, just ranked the 49ers as the seventh-best team in the NFL and the third-best team in the NFC (behind the Rams and Saints).
“Here’s my big surprise. Only I don’t see it that way. In 2017 and 2018, the Niners were 6-2 when Jimmy Garoppolo started and 4-18 when he didn’t. In his fateful last start, when he ran left and tore his ACL at Kansas City, these were the last four drives he executed that afternoon, going head to head with Patrick Mahomes at rabid Arrowhead: 54 yards to a field goal, 87 yards to a touchdown, 77 yards to a touchdown, 58 yards to a field goal. In his 10 NFL starts, he’s a 66-percent passer. I have no problem making two statements: I think the 49ers are a playoff team if Garappolo plays a full season. And I think Garoppolo will be seen as a top 10 NFL quarterback if he plays a full season this year. Still, the fact that he hasn’t done it leaves the question in everyone’s mind: The kid’s started only 10 games in five NFL seasons, he’s been rewarded ridiculously for what the Niners expect him to do … and now, can he do it? The future of so many people in San Francisco—including joined-at-the-hip coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch—are riding on Garoppolo’s right arm. And his health. I’m fine gambling on him.”
King isn’t just gambling on Garoppolo, though. King is gambling on a 49ers roster that is full of hopes and dreams, but short on proven players.
Here is the list of the 49ers’ established, sure-shot cornerstones:
- TE George Kittle.
- LT Joe Staley.
- DT DeForest Buckner.
Here is the list of the 49ers’ unknown and unproven players:
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Coming off a torn ACL. Never has started more than five games in a season without getting injured. Has thrown 12 touchdown passes and eight interceptions with the 49ers — a pedestrian touchdown-interception ration of 3 to 2.
- RB Jerick McKinnon. Coming off a torn ACL. Didn’t make it out of training camp last year.
- RB Tevin Coleman. Joining a new team with an inferior offensive line than the one he left (the Falcons). Never has carried the ball more than 167 times in a season.
- RB Matt Breida. Almost always injured, even when he plays.
- WR Dante Pettis. Sprained his knee twice in 2018. Not physical, and may not be durable, either. Doesn’t make contested catches. Struggles beating bump-and-run coverage when lined up outside.
- WR Marquise Goodwin. Doesn’t seem to play unless he’s 100-percent healthy. Missed five games last season. Will turn 29 next season. Wants to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
- WR Deebo Samuel. Rookie. Unproven.
- WR Jalen Hurd. Rookie. Unproven.
- WR Trent Taylor. Coming off a terrible season in which he was a healthy scratch twice. May not make the team in 2019.
- WR Jordan Matthews. Big-time injury history the past three seasons. Hasn’t been good since 2015. May not make the team.
- LG Laken Tomlinson. Coming off an MCL tear he suffered Week 17 of 2018.
- C Weston Richburg. Coming knee and quadriceps surgery. Played most of 2018 injured, after missing most of 2017 with a concussion. Richburg’s body could be breaking down.
- RT Mike McGlinchey. Solid run-blocker, but he gave up 12 sacks last season. Must improve in pass protection to keep Garoppolo healthy.
- DE Dee Ford. Joining a new defensive scheme and changing positions from outside linebacker to defensive end. Will play home games at quiet Levi’s Stadium, instead of deafening Arrowhead Stadium. The latter helped Ford jump snap counts and sack quarterback in Kansas City. Also has had issues with durability and consistency in his career.
- DE Nick Bosa. Rookie. Unproven.
- LB Kwon Alexander. Coming off a torn ACL. Joining a new defensive scheme. Still needs to learn proper tackling technique. Missed a higher percentage of tackles than any other player the past few seasons.
- FS Jimmie Ward. Played just nine games last season. Has played a full 16-game schedule just once during his career.
- SS Jaquiski Tartt. Missed eight games in 2018 after missing seven games in 2017. Has broken up just 11 passes in four seasons.
- CB Richard Sherman. A 31-year-old cornerback with a surgically-repaired Achilles’ tendon. Wasn’t tested much last season, but still gave up a passer rating of 106.6 — by far the highest of his career. Teams probably will test Sherman more frequently next season. Can he hold up at his age? How many games will he play? Last season, he played in 14.
- CB Jason Verrett. Has played just five games the past three seasons and only 25 games in his entire career. Coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon.
- CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Played horrendously in 2018. Broke up seven passes, gave up seven touchdown catches and allowed a quarterback rating of 107.6.
- P Mitch Wishnowsky. Rookie. Unproven. Already 27, meaning he probably won’t improve. Played home games in Salt Lake City, which is more than 4,200 feet above sea level. Averaged only 43.7 yards per punt on the road in 2018.
- K Robbie Gould. Doesn’t want to play for the 49ers. Probably will miss all of training camp and preseason.
- HC Kyle Shanahan. Can he get his players ready to play on the road? So far, his road record is 3-13.
Where do you rank the 49ers?