The San Francisco 49ers finally put it all together in year 3 under Kyle Shanahan winning the NFC in dominating fashion. The 49ers look poised to break the hangover that often comes with a team that loses the Super Bowl the previous year. They make their way to the east coast in Week 2 of 2020 season for the Jets home opener.
Coaching – Kyle Shanahan is the best young coach in the NFL. He rivals Andy Reid and Sean Payton as the best offensive mind in the NFL and he does not have the luxury in coaching Hall of Fame talents at the QB position such as Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. Christopher Johnson said Adam Gase was an innovator who was coaching football to where it’s going. While that is nowhere near true about Adam Gase it is the perfect way to describe Kyle Shanahan. While Shanahan dominates the offensive side of coaching he has found a great leader of his defense in DC Robert Saleh, who helped lead the 49ers to the number 2 defense in DVOA. Saleh is primed to be a top head coaching candidate in 2021 and many were surprised he was not awarded the Browns job which went to Minnesota Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski after Saleh’s defense completely shut down Stefanski’s offense in the playoffs this year.Personnel – The 49ers defense is led by reigning NFL defensive rookie of the year Nick Bosa. Bosa often looked like a DPOY in his rookie season and is only going to get better as his career goes on which is a scary thought. DeForest Buckner was their best interior defensive linemen and was traded to the Colts in the offseason. They however drafted his replacement in the first round of this year’s draft in Javon Kinlaw. Pro Bowlers Dee Ford and Arik Armstead join those two along the defensive line and Fred Warner, one of the best young linebackers in football make this front 7 the best the Jets will face in 2020.
While many are still skeptical of Jimmy G as a QB he was incredibly efficient in 2019 posting a 102 passer rating while completing nearly 69 percent of his passes. George Kittle with his pass catching and blocking is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in football. They replaced Emmanuel Sanders with first round pick Brandon Aiyuk who was one of the biggest YAC threats in the entire 2020 draft class. They also traded for Trent Williams who is an upgrade over the recently retired Joe Staley who was still a great player in his final year.
Potential Weaknesses – While its cliché to say the Jets due have the advantage of San Francisco traveling east for a 1 pm kickoff as west coast teams have been known to lay eggs when playing early games. Their best receiver 2nd year star Deebo Samuel broke his foot in June and if the season starts on time it is unlikely he will be fully recovered by the time they play the Jets.
Matchup with the Jets – It is likely going to be a long day for the Jets’ offense against the 49ers. The Jets are likely going to be putting out 4 new faces on their offensive line and with this abbreviated offseason its very unlikely that unit will be able to keep Sam Darnold clean against the ferocious 49ers pass rush.Nick Bosa is likely going to be the man responsible for giving Mekhi Becton his welcome to the NFL moment. However, I think Richard Sherman and this 49ers secondary can be had. If Adam Gase deploys an up tempo quick passing attack against this defense to tire out and mitigate the pass rush, I think the Jets can find some success.
Adam Gase has deployed one of the slowest offenses from a tempo perspective over the past 4 seasons so expecting that to change is unlikely unfortunately. The 49ers deployed one of the most efficient rushing attacks in all of football in 2019. This is the basis for their offense as it allows for heavy play action which helps Jimmy G be so effective. The Jets defense was one of the best against the run in 2019. If they can stop to the run to an extent and make Garrappolo beat them on his own they can force him into making mistakes and causing turnovers. The 49ers might be the most complete team the Jets face in 2020. They are going to need to be on their A game and with a couple of breaks may have a shot of making the game competitive.