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Murph: What Bay Area sports fans have to look forward to in 2022

© Kelley L Cox | 2021 Nov 3

So, 2020 sucked. Lockdowns. No fans. The whole pandemic thing.

2021? We improved, sports fans. We improved. If you’re reading this, you likely took in a ballgame at Oracle Park this year, maybe saw some 49ers ball at Levi’s, maybe stood and raised your arms for a Steph ‘3’ at Chase.

That’s much better than cardboard cutouts. Much better.

And if incremental improvement in sports leads to exponential improvement — like skinny 2013 Steph Curry turning into buffed 2021 Steph Curry — then I am thinking big things for 2022.

That is, if the Omicron strain can go on IR and just leave us alone.

2022! So futuristic. Where’s my jet pack? How come I can’t transport myself over rush hour traffic? Turns out we’re not as futuristic as we’d like, as I was just saying to my good friend Mark (Big Brother) Zuckerberg.

Let’s make the final Jock Blog of 2021 a look ahead to 2022 for our three favorite sports teams.

THE 49ERS: Heck, these guys will still be playing the 2021 season come 2022. That’s right, two regular season games (Jan 2 vs Houston; Jan 9 at LA Rams) are still to come after the New Year. 

Then what?

Playoffs? Likely. 

Super Bowl? Unlikely, but not impossible. 

A playoff appearance without a Super Bowl seems like the appropriate finish for this year’s team, which is good enough to make the top 7 in the NFC, but plagued by enough problems at cornerback and the injury list to fall short of the Bowl. No shame in that, especially considering the QB they started all year is all but gone in 2022. Yes, I’ve heard the outside whispers that somehow, some way, Jimmy Garoppolo stays in 2022 (maybe if that unlikely Super Bowl comes to pass), but let’s get real. 

2022 is the year we see Trey Lance.

Which will be nice, because we haven’t seen much of Trey Lance. 

The whole saga has been somewhat of a mixed message from Kyle Shanahan. Week 1, he played Lance played four snaps in Detroit, including a goal-line TD pass that had tongues wagging. 

After that, the only time we saw him was when Jimmy G got injured against the Colts, and then the following week in a start at Arizona — where curiously, Kyle dialed 16 runs for Lance and the rookie injured his knee. 

Now you see him, now you don’t. Turns out the whole Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes model is the one Kyle and John Lynch settled on. Which means that if Trey turns out be Mahomes, then life is good.

2022, you will see him. The 49ers take on a whole new look in 2022 —a young, dynamic, mobile, strong-armed QB, who can make lots of throws that Jimmy cannot . . .  and has to digest a whole playbook that Jimmy already knows.

I confess, I will miss Jimmy. The blue-collar mentality. The expensive Italian sport coats after games. The strangely clutch throws when you least expect them. 

But it’s Trey Time. Get ready.

THE WARRIORS: Are we talking parade . . . down Terry Francois Blvd?

We may very well be. Someone alert the street sweepers on Terry Francois.

Steph Curry’s intergalactic star turn at Madison Square Garden is just another example of all the positive energy surrounding Steve Kerr’s club. The Warriors are back. ‘Strength in Numbers’ is back.

And in 2022, Klay Thompson will be back.

It’s hard to think of a downside to the current Warrior trajectory. Steph is playing the best he’s ever played. His Splash Brother is skippering boats across the Bay and bleeding desire to play again. Draymond Green is refreshed by the defensive challenge. Jordan Poole has found his footing. Andrew Wiggins loves being away from the spotlight.

And the Phoenix Suns may be the only team in their way from that Terry Francois shindig. Granted, the Suns are tough. And young. And a Western Conference final promises to be fairly epic. But Steph, Klay and Dray have done epic Western Conference finals, as I was just saying to my good friends in Oklahoma City and Houston.

2022 has Joe Lacob smiling. It may not be light years, but they’re ahead of the league.

THE GIANTS: We save the most intriguing for last.

How do you follow 107 wins? Corollary: how do you follow 107 wins *without* Buster Posey?

Here’s a thought for Giants fans: start by remembering that 90 wins is an awesome season, and probably enough to get you into the post-season. Now, that’s not a concession. That’s just a reality check after we spent 2021 in a fantasy land of Mike Tauchman catches and Late Night LaMonte late nights. 

The Giants had an absurdly magical 2021 season, as I was just saying to Mike Yastrzemski as he planted a grand slam in the Cove to cap a 7-run comeback over the Diamondbacks. Regression is not a swear word here. Understanding that regression is inevitable is a coping mechanism. The Giants will not win 107 in 2022. But Farhan Zaidi has earned a Bay-sized heap of street cred the way he told us he would: one move at a time. Kevin Gausman. Alex Wood. Darin Ruf. Donovan Solano. You know the drill.

The Giants will be good. After all, Farhan is calling the shots.

2022 will bring us Joey Bart, the long-awaited debut. It will bring us some inevitable Farhan moves after the lockout. It will bring us another summer of Dodgers and, probably, the Padres. It will bring us contention, almost surely, and premium entertainment.

That leaves us with a 3-for-3 box score on 2022 hopes and dreams. The 49ers’ playoff run and Trey Lance transition. The Warriors’ bid for a parade. The fascination of Farhan’s crew.

Happy New Year, indeed. Can’t wait.

 

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