Odds are stacked against 49ers getting chance to finish the job in 2020

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In covering the NFL, we can paint a rosy picture for all 32 teams, constantly viewing the glass as half-or-more full in order to get as many fans of as many teams as excited as possible before the season starts. Or we can tell the truth.

Some fan bases don’t want to hear the truth. As evidenced by the reaction to a couple of recent videos analyzing comments from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, plenty of 49ers fans aren’t willing to hear the truth. And it’s hard to blame them.

The discussion was sparked by Shanahan saying this at the team’s annual “state of the franchise” event, while addressing the point at which the team had a 10-point lead with seven minutes to play in Super Bowl LIV: “[T]he state of the franchise right now is we got to get right back to that moment. We got to get right back to that fourth quarter and get to have a lead and we got to finish the job.”

Finishing the job should be the easy part. The ridiculously difficult part is getting back to the point where there’s a chance to finish the job.

Yes, the 49ers secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff field, making it a lot easier to knock off the Vikings and Packers and advance to the Super Bowl. Getting the No. 1 seed was a different story.

Even before it all came down to the closing seconds of the regular season, a narrow victory over Seattle that hinged on a stop at the goal line that otherwise would have relegated the 49ers to the No. 5 seed, the 49ers had to pull a rabbit out of the hat twice in the same drive to beat the Rams, the 49ers barely toppled the Saints in New Orleans, and they had a harder time than expected — twice — with the Cardinals. All the way back to Week Three, the 49ers’ win over a Steelers team adjusting to life without Ben Roethlisberger easily could have become a loss. If any of those games go the other way, the 49ers would have had to win three road games (with a wafer-thin chance of hosting the NFC Championship) to get to the Super Bowl.

Now, the 49ers have returned to what the late Dennis Green called “the valley of zero and zero.” It all starts over again, one week at a time, one game at a time. Having an urgency to fast forward to finishing the job in February will do nothing to help the team get there.

Throwing in the variables of the pandemic, this season carries even more uncertainty for all teams. Which will make it even harder for the teams perceived to be the best to make good on that promise — especially when those teams will be wearing a much bigger target, drawing the top effort from every opponent they face.

That’s one of the reasons why only two teams have ever won the Super Bowl the year after losing it. The 49ers will try to become only the third in the 54 times a team has lost the Super Bowl and tried to get ultimate atonement the next day.

Thus, the last thing the 49ers should be thinking about is getting back to the final half of the final quarter of the final game of the season. They should be focused solely on Week One until Week One comes. And then on Week Two. And so on.

That’s what Bill Belichick would do. It’s what he does. What happened last year means nothing. There’s no carryover. There’s no unfinished business. Every year, the business is the same, as far as Belichick is concerned.

And that’s why Shanahan’s comments are surprising. By all indications (and with apologies to all other young coaches), Shanahan has a very good chance to be the next Belichick. And if the Patriots had blown a 10-point lead at the end of Super Bowl LIV, Belichick wouldn’t be talking about, thinking about, or letting anyone in the organization talk about or think getting back to that point.

23 responses to “Odds are stacked against 49ers getting chance to finish the job in 2020

  1. The biggest obstacle is the one that no one can see without a microscope. There may not be a 2020 season, and even if there is one, an infection to one or more key players can change a team’s luck quickly.

  2. What were the odds of the 49ers getting to the Super Bowl last season? Asking for a friend.

  3. Shanahan is the next Belichick? Tell that to the forever-suffering Falcons fan base, who saw Shanahan bungle what was literally a 99.2% chance to win the Super Bowl at the end of the 3rd quarter versus—yep–Belichick. Sorry, Shanahan, you are about as much Bill Belichick as Dan Quayle was John F. Kennedy.

  4. It’s alright to look at the final goal & talk as he has about the upcoming season in broad terms. Focus on that one game at a time mentality needs to start when the teams show up for the season. Until then, enjoy the dream.

  5. nyctraffic says: “Shanahan is the next Belichick? Tell that to the forever-suffering Falcons fan base, who saw Shanahan bungle what was literally a 99.2% chance to win the Super Bowl at the end of the 3rd quarter”

    NONSENSE. Shanahan’s offense put up 28 points on the Patriots. He doesn’t have any say in the DEFENSE that gave up the 34 points to Brady.

    Nice try. The Super Bowl loss is directly on HC Dan Quinn and his defense.

  6. Is this the same Shanahan who could have won the Super Bowl by calling a run play but decided to keep passing?

  7. Shanahan is a brilliant coach. He was part of the RUN FOOTBALL RENAISSANCE OF 2019 along with teams like the Ravens and Titans. He’s a coach who gets it. He’s not one of these posers like Matt Nagy or Zac Taylor who thinks he’s smarter than everybody with their cutesy b.s. 2 yd bubble screens passes and cutesy goal line plays. Nope Shanahan stick with the BASICS that have worked for DECADES. Things running the ball 10 straight times and then BOOM, hitting a wide open receiver on play-action.

    A yo-yo like Matt Nagy can’t even SPELL play-action.

    Shanahan probably IS the next Bellichick because like Bill, he understand SITUATIONAL football. Which means he’s not one of these posers like Nagy, constantly trying to fit a square peg into a round hole every week. Shanahan ADAPTS to ANY SITUATION…ANY INJURY…ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. The BEST coaches do.

  8. I’m not a 49er fan but their coach and GM have done a great job of playing to their strength of the personal. They were not a good team for years. Jimmy G is not going to get them back into the game if they are behind. They have a solid O and D line, but the big question is that teams will figure out how to stop them from being one dimensional of pounding the ball.

  9. Shanahan seems like a very good offensive coach.
    I’d rather have him than most of the other old school coaches in the NFL who are either obsolete or got lucky that their GM drafted well.

  10. Shanahan didn’t give the Super Bowl win to the Pats; the Pats seized it from him and the Falcons. The Pats deserve the credit. Just like they did vs Seattle. Sometimes great teams make the plays when the money’s on the line. Like the Pats, time and time again.

  11. “…only two teams have ever won the Super Bowl the year after losing it.”

    Point taken, but it’s three teams: Dallas in 1971 (the year after losing to Baltimore), Miami 1972 (the year after losing to Dallas), and New England 2018 (the year after losing to Philadelphia)

  12. Possibly they get a call this time, being that its common knowledge the chiefs won it off that monster 3rd and 15 hold on bosa at the end of the game.

  13. Situational football or not, Shanahans lack of trust in his running game and running down the clock has cost him two SBs. The Defence deserves blame as well.

  14. Clara got healthy at just the right time. That won’t happen the next season played.

  15. Not that long ago they were a tipped pass away from going back to the superbowl. Not like they can’t have another deep run again.

  16. Florio can write a good piece now and then. This is proof. 100% correct. There is no such thing as “unfinished business” year to year in the NFL. The 49ers start at zero in 2020, like everyone else.

  17. The odds are stacked against the NFL playing a game. Nevermind the 49ers.

  18. You know who didn’t notice the “monster 3rd and 15 hold” on Bosa?

    Bosa. Didnt complain at all to the refs. He attacked going left. Fisher, the Chiefs LT, was happy to help him. Bosa did, with his hands, express confusion about that play, but it was to his own teammates, wondering how they could let someone get so open so far away…

    Likewise with the Chiefs TD where 49er fans say the RBs right foot was out of bounds. Other than the ref who instantly signaled touchdown, the only other person on the planet with a perfect view was a 49er DB who didn’t complain at all about the call.

    Against the faders, Texans, and 49ers the Chiefs scored 77 points in 30 minutes. The NFL record is 73 points in a whole game. When the Chiefs get into whole team battle mode – you have to have very effective defense and special teams to score 73 points in 30 minutes – no one can stop them.

    The 49ers should have seen it coming. Against the Chiefs in the season prior, the Chiefs scored TDs on their first five drives for the first time in the history of the Chiefs. The 49er QB injured himself in that game, but that was after the winner had already been decided.

  19. chiefs did it. year before they were an offsides penalty away from the super bowl…

  20. Wrong.

    Every team’s goal each year should be to get to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. Having a goal that is anything less than that is a disservice to their fans.

    Nothing wrong with Shanahan recognizing that even though last year was hugely successful for the Niners, it wasn’t good enough. That’s the message he has for the fans and players.

    As far as the critique of how they managed to secure home field advantage… guess what, EVERY team had some games that they could have lost, but somehow managed to win. SF managed to win them when it counted.

  21. The seahawks won by the skin of the teeth more times than the 49ers. Wasnt the statistic like 50% of their wins came down to 2 minutes? Almost all of their games were won by 1 score.

    The fact of the matter is that their division is extremely competitive, with 2 de-facto powerhouses, the Rams who seem like a very volatile team, sometimes they are hot – other times just hot garbage, and the up and coming Cardinals. It makes an extra playoff team more enticing because it gives divisions like the NFCW more of a chance to take over the playoffs.

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