The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most recognizable franchises in NFL history. They built legendary teams filled with Hall of Fame talent, and changed the game through innovative coaching. Like all good things, however, it had to come to and end. Since losing Super Bowl XVLII, this storied organization has fallen on hard times. Sound familiar? It should.
Assembling an NFL roster is an art, its value is apparent when looking at teams like the Oakland Raiders, who, after losing Super Bowl XXXVII fell into what can only be described as a black hole, no pun intended. Through awful draft picks, poor Head Coaching, and a constant rotation at the quarterback position, the Raiders went from the best team in the AFC to the butt of jokes in just about every barbershop and bar in the country. The nightmare ended with the hiring of general manager, Reggie McKenzie, and his ability to assemble a winning team.
The 49ers Are Looking For Gold In All The Wrong Places
The 49ers have been in rebuilding mode since the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2014 and Colin Kaepernick’s sudden fall from grace over the last few seasons. Poor personal moves, the gutting of an all-world defensive unit, and the general lack of talent on both sides of the ball has made for a slow and demoralizing process.
In order to produce a quality on-field product, the San Francisco front office began the 2017 off-season building from the top. First year GM, John Lynch, and new Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, were tasked with assembling a team that can compete in the competitive NFC West; a division home to the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and the improving Los Angeles Rams.
All That Glitters Is Not Red and Gold
The first order of business for Lynch was finding a QB, so he went out and signed journeyman Brian Hoyer and his understudy from last season, Matt Barkley. Not a bad move considering Hoyer has been an effective “hired gun” for five different NFL teams over his eight-year career; throwing for 8,608 yards and 44 touchdowns in the process. Barkley, a fourth year QB out of the University of Southern California, has yet to live up to the hype and will be playing for his third team in his short career.
Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon will join the 49ers to provide a proven target with a careers worth of experience. Coming off his second 1,000-yard season in nine years, Garcon has never been utilized as a true number one. He will be 31 at the start of this season, stands six feet tall, and weighs 210 pounds; making him smaller—and older—than today’s prototypical wide receivers (Mike Evans: 6’5”/225 23yrs.).
To round things out, 31-year-old running back, Tim Hightower, was brought onboard to help in the run game. Hightower has played 6 seasons in 9 years, he was unemployed and out of the league from 2012 to 2014. Like Garcon, Hightower has never really been a true number one, spending most of his career as a third down/change-of-pace type back. With Carlos Hyde on the roster, the chances of him making a big impact with this offense are slim. However, should Hyde go down, Hightower will be a more than capable fill-in.
Beware of Gold Fever
The San Francisco 49ers have spent the last two years grinding out a combined record of 7-25. They play in a competitive division with a non-competitive roster that makes any hope of turning things around seem impossible. John Lynch is hoping that the addition of veteran players like Garcon, Hoyer and Hightower will be enough to get his team back to their glory days of old. The 49er Faithful will have to temper expectations, however, because until this team starts building for the future, they will never relive the past.