The once mighty San Francisco 49ers bottomed out in 2016 with a dismal 2-14 record and were rewarded with the second pick in this Thursday’s NFL draft.
It seems like an eternity since the Niners dominated the NFL as opposing defenses were turned into mincemeat by the dynamic duo of Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. But as with all sports dynasties, the ravages of Father Time are the great equalizer and while San Francisco did enjoy some post-Montana success, last season was a flaming dumpster fire from the get go.
Not only was the roster devoid of serious talent but quarterback Colin Kaepernick became a weekly distraction after he refused to stand for the national anthem and made derogatory comments about the country and law enforcement professionals. With the cancer in the locker room becoming a hero to leftist radical social justice warriors and America hating anarchists while alienating regular fans during an acrimonious election year, the die was cast for a debacle of historic proportions.
With Kaepernick being the weekly focus of the media and booed by fans it undermined his team’s overall competitiveness and other than two wins against the Los Angeles Rams, the season mercifully ended as did the 49ers careers of Kaepernick, head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke. The latter two were collateral damage and both should have acted quickly to nip the circus in the bud but neither one had the guts to take a hard line stance against their militant quarterback.
— 904 Niners Nation (@904NinersNation) April 22, 2017
Now that the housecleaning has been undertaken it will be up to neophyte GM John Lynch and first time head coach Kyle Shanahan to right the ship and they will have ten picks in the draft to bring in an infusion of young talent.
The second pick should bring an immediate contributor and the 49ers need help just about everywhere. One possibility would be former LSU running back Leonard Fournette, a bludgeoning runner who could be a game changer if he is able to return to his 2015 college form. Injuries and turmoil at LSU made for a disappointing season for Fournette last year but if healthy he could bounce back big time and become a superstar.
There has also been buzz that San Francisco will attempt to address the quarterback problem by drafting North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky but rarely do rookie quarterbacks on bad teams have success. The 49ers did sign journeyman Brian Hoyer after letting Kaepernick take his act elsewhere and he could serve as a bridge until a better option emerges.
There are also a number of good defensive prospects that will be available or the Niners could hit the jackpot if the Cleveland Browns screw up and fail to draft top rated Myles Garrett who was a one man wrecking crew at Texas A&M. There is also the option of trading down to accumulate extra picks but along with that comes the risk of losing out on a stud who is capable of injecting badly needed enthusiasm into a demoralized fan base.
San Francisco will probably also benefit from a few more years of top five picks as there is just so much wrong with the team to expect anything other than an extended tenure in the league’s cellar. Still, there is finally hope now that the organization has jettisoned their divisive crumb of an oppressed multi-millionaire and can focus on football this season.