2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 27 San Fransisco 49ers
The preseason doesn't mean jack shit. I get it. After months of endless discussions revolving around the T-shirt Olympics, police blotter and Madden ratings, football fans yearn for a lil shoulder-to-shoulder contact. That doesn't take away from the fact that investing time watching a glorified tryout sounds ridiculous. I do, however, understand why somebody would indulge. On Tuesday, I woke up to see Jimmy Garoppolo's name trending on Twitter. Now I didn't click for football. I thought there'd be a possibility he took another porn star out for Happy Meals and adult beverages. I indulge in the TMZ, I won’t front. Sadly, it was all about Garoppolo posting a 0.0 QB rating against the Broncos in his first outing since tearing his ACL a season ago. Now, yes it happened during the upgraded version of joint practices, but this is rather intriguing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with dusting off the cobwebs. The issue here seems more mental than physical. Garoppolo's first pass was knocked down. On his second attempt, he felt pressure, shied away from stepping in and lobbed a lollipop off his back foot into the hands of a Denver DB . His third pass was tipped, and cornerback De'Vante Bausby broke up his fourth attempt. At the end of the outing, Garoppolo's lone completion came on a screen pass to Matt Brieda. Again, I don't put much stock in the preseason, but this is a development that needs monitoring. His average annual salary is $27 million. There's not much room for error, especially after missing most of last season.
Outside of the "issues" at quarterback, the 49ers' fan base has a reason for optimism. The team’s offense features enough weapons to stock an infantry. San Francisco boasts the NFL's record holder for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season in George Kittle. It has the inaugural 40-yards of Gold winner (they still haven't been paid) and Olympian Marquise Goodwin. The 49ers acquired tailback Tevin Coleman during the offseason. Oh, and they drafted two game-breaking rookie pass-catchers in the versatile Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, a converted running back whose combination of elite athleticism and size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) will pay dividends in the red zone.
The front seven is nasty. And I'm talking about Diamond Princess Trina nasty. Let me roll out these names. If healthy, Nick Bosa should be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. Pro Bowl defenders Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner are nightmares to block. In the middle of the defense stands Fred Warner, who led the team in tackles in as a rookie in 2018, and a heat-seeking missile in Kwon Alexander. There's a unit that could give opposing offenses fits for years.
Offensive Players to Watch: Jimmy Garoppolo, Tevin Coleman, Jet McKinnon, Jalen Hurd, Deebo Samuel.
Defensive Players to Watch: Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Ahkello Witherspoon.
Verdict: There's a lot to like about this team. They've got talent. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is a genius who even made the undrafted Nick Mullens look more than serviceable. And they've got enough veteran leadership in the locker room, especially with Richard Sherman keeping things in order. Just don't see them making much of a push this season. 5-11.