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Murph: For the 2019 49ers, let’s learn from last year and curb our expectations


© Stan Szeto | 2019 Jun 11


The Jock Blog was so caught up this summer in KDD (Kevin Durant Drama) and MBB (MadBum Buzz) that we realized it’s August and there have been no entries on the local NFL squad which broadcasts its games on The Sports Leader.

Oh, hey, there Jimmy G!

You’re looking well, my dude.

Yes, the ‘Murph and Mac’ show headed down to the 408 Thursday morning to get our first true blast of 49ers football. The visit resulted in an important conclusion:

Don’t get too grandiose about what the 49ers season may be like this year.

I’m not saying they won’t be good. They might be. The NFL is weird, and teams that made the playoffs the year before frequently miss the playoffs the following year; and vice versa. This isn’t MLB, where you can pencil in the Dodgers in the NL, and the Astros/Yankees in the AL and be done with it.

But in the time we were there, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan told us about the unfortunate ankle injury to first-round draft pick Nick Bosa, who was garnering universal praise for his practice prior to a “big man falling on his leg”, as Lynch and Shanahan put it. Richard Sherman even told us he thought Bosa was looking so good, he might have been “undervalued” as the No. 2 pick, and that Bosa looked like “a monster” on the practice field.

Now, no Bosa for a month, at least.

Add Bosa’s upcoming preseason absence to the resting Dee Ford, whose sore knees need relief this summer, and you have two premier off-season acquisitions who may be a little rusty come the Sept. 8 opener at Tampa Bay — if they play at all.

Throw in Shanahan’s news that running back Jerick McKinnon will receive another “platelet-rich plasma” treatment (and don’t these medical procedures all sound like something from the 22nd century?) and be re-evaluated in two weeks; plus the ongoing morass of mystery at the wide receiver position, and there is plenty of reason to curb your enthusiasm about the 2019 49ers.

Also, and this might have been the main takeaway from the visit, we need to learn from last year. Last year, fans were so enthused — and perhaps understandably so — by Jimmy Garoppolo’s 5-0 finish to the 2017 season, many predicted a playoff run for Shanahan in Year Two.

And then, Jimmy G threw three picks in Minnesota. The 49ers barely escaped against the Lions at Levi’s in Week 2, and then the Arrowhead Accident — Garoppolo tearing his ACL in Week 3 in Kansas City. The 49ers, despite a surge of adrenaline from Nick (In A Box) Mullens at quarterback, finished 4-12 and nobody was happy.

Now, Jimmy G is back and exuding positive energy. The offensive line is anchored by two standout tackles. George Kittle is a rock star in almost every way. DeForest Buckner is growing into a possible All-Pro player. Should Bosa come back and deliver on the promise so many see, the defensive line could produce the pressure needed to generate some much-needed turnovers.

But caution is the more prudent tack.

Last year’s excited predictions of glory gave way to the reality of injury, and the vagaries of “late and close” games that did not go the 49ers way. Shanahan still needs to prove to the fan base that he can navigate those games. Lynch still needs to show his draft prowess — is 2nd round WR Deebo Samuel the guy? Is Jalen Hurd from Baylor a player? — can help the team.

Perhaps it’s all better this way. Better to not burden ourselves with expectation. Better to let it happen, and see if the 49ers can gift us an unexpected pleasure of a season.

 

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