The San Francisco 49ers were yet another sufferer of the Super Bowl loser hangover curse. A year after losing Super Bowl 54 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers dropped to 6-10 and finished in last place in the NFC West.
The biggest issue for the 49ers was injuries. They dealt with a host of injuries, losing significant talent on both sides of the ball for some or all of the season. Notable injuries included season-ending torn ACLs for Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, a high-ankle sprain for Jimmy Garoppolo, and assorted injuries that resulted in extended absences for Richard Sherman, George Kittle, Dee Ford, Weston Richburg, Raheem Mostert, Ben Garland, and many more.
There’s plenty to be said about Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance when healthy (more on that below), but injuries ravaged this roster.
San Francisco 49ers 2021 Draft Picks
Round 1: No. 3, QB Trey Lance
Round 2: No. 48, G Aaron Banks
Round 3: No. 88, RB Trey Sermon; No. 102, CB Ambry Thomas
Round 5: No. 155, G Jaylon Moore, No. 172, CB Deommodore Lenoir, No. 180, S Talanoa Hufanga
Round 6: No. 194, RB Elijah Mitchell
Whatever your opinion of Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers decision to move up to the No. 3 pick makes clear they view quarterback as a position of need. The team has said they will not trade Jimmy Garoppolo unless they get a big-time offer, but they are looking for a new franchise QB for the long-term.
The team was able to retain a significant amount of talent this year, but will also look to find some long-term options at center and elsewhere on the offensive line. The line struggled thanks in part to injuries, so look for the team to add more depth.
Cornerback was looking like a significant concern coming into the offseason, but the team was able to retain much of its starting unit — likely losing only Richard Sherman. However, most of the players signed shorter term deals, so look for the team to look to the future in the defensive back field in the draft.
Dream first pick
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This really comes down to which quarterback you like best. The 49ers have been connected to Mac Jones, but I strongly believe you make a home run trade for a home run player. Mac Jones might end up with a ceiling of a Kirk Cousins, but you make this trade for the bigger upside players.
49ers beat writer Matt Barrows made the point that the Shanahan archetype at quarterback is not Kirk Cousins, but rather John Elway. Shanahan is looking for a “strong, savvy, mobile quarterback with a powerful arm.” Trey Lance fits that mold as well, so it comes down to whether you like Fields or Lance more. I lean toward Fields given his more extensive experience at a higher level of competition, but I can see why someone might be enamored by Lance’s tools.