The San Francisco 49ers are staring at a rough schedule and a bleak outcome to the 2014 NFL season. One team must fall and down goes San Francisco. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part two of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
It’s funny you picked the San Francisco 49ers to be the tumbling stumblers of 2014. Glancing through the list of teams who managed double-digit wins a season ago, there are a number of squads I would have selected to regress. I could see Carolina, Philadelphia, Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Kansas City all plummeting next year. A couple of these teams were surprise success stories in 2013, hence the regression. Others just seem ripe for possible decline. However, I completely understand the San Fran pick beyond just the schedule, even if the 49ers do seem like a juggernaut.
First, there was controversy with their head coach this offseason that probably has not gone away. Jim Harbaugh was either interested in moving on or ownership was trying to move in another direction. Either way, this situation has not resolved itself, and that could cause rifts during the year.
If head coach is the second most important employee in a football organization, the most important is starting quarterback. It just so happened that the 49ers also had controversy surrounding their QB this offseason! Colin Kaepernick got into some off-field trouble, is in the midst of a police investigation and found his name in TMZ…something that every celebrity strives to avoid.
Even if it turns out to be nothing, the fact that Kaepernick is in the news for the wrong reasons could affect his play on the field in the coming months. It certainly doesn’t help.
Continuing this trend, if top priority for an NFL team is quarterback and second is head coach, the third thing teams require is a rush end who can pressure opposing QBs. You’ll never guess, but San Francisco’s top defensive end got into some legal trouble this offseason! As you pointed out, Aldon Smith may miss the year. He may also miss no time physically but be a head case mentally. You know what? He may also get released and not be a member of this organization anymore. Coupled with the Navarro Bowman injury at the end of last season, San Fran would be without arguably their two best players. With both of them being defensive players, the unit as a whole will surely suffer.
And then there’s everything else: the aging skill-position players atop the offensive depth chart, the playoff failures weighing on the organization and the question marks in the defensive backfield.
I thought you were crazy when first suggesting San Francisco. Now maybe I just think we’re both crazy, but things could turn south so easily for this team next season. Although the schedule isn’t released yet, hypothetically, what if the 9ers start 1-3, talk really escalates about Harbaugh leaving after the season, Kaepernick fails to improve on a very shaky pass offense in ’13 and goes in the tank, and there are no defensive stalwarts to fall back on? Are the sports books open? Can we bet on San Fran and the under for total wins?
I thought you were going to call me crazy, but even though you did we still agree. The red flags are flying high for the 49ers and no one in the NFC has even half as many to stare at. Warning signs are of course to be taken with a grain of salt. But what were we saying about the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans this time last year? Both teams tanked hard in 2013 and the offseason signs were evident. We simply chose to ignore them.
San Francisco has its work cut out for them. I know the official schedule isn’t out, but we know who they play. I won’t repost every opponent (that’s in part one), but because they’ve been to three straight NFC championships they were rewarded with a hard schedule of games. Move the 49ers into the AFC and this is a different argument. They would still beat up on the dregs of those divisions. Not so in the NFC West, however. Not so.
Its challenging for me to enjoy making such an apocalyptic prediction, but the facts are the facts. One team will hit rock bottom this upcoming season and it will be a shock. Yet neither of us will be surprised if its the San Francisco 49ers who find themselves staring at a 4-12 record come New Year’s Day.