49ers Season Preview: The Revenge Tour Starts

The last minutes of Super Bowl LIV are still leaving a sour taste in 49ers fans mouths. Jimmy Garoppolo had a great game, but they didn’t do enough to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, giving head coach Andy Reid – a coach known for choking in big game situations- his first ever Super Bowl ring. 49er fans were disappointed, but the cries for a revenge tour were spreading. Once COVID hit however, no one knew if there was going to be a season. However, the NFL said that they will have the season as scheduled, so the revenge tour is on. 

 

This revenge tour will be played with some of the same cast from last year’s Super Bowl run, but there will be some new faces this time around. Let us start though with the faces the 49ers did lose. It starts with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the New Orleans Saints over the offseason, as well as tight end Levine Toilolo signing with the New York Giants.  Before the draft, a blockbuster trade happened. DeForest Buckner got traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick. Another big hit then came during the draft. Joe Staley, six-time Pro Bowler and Niners legend, announced his retirement. The Niners then gave a giant extension to George Kittle, restructured  Raheem Mostert’s contract after his agent requested a trade, and gave the aforementioned Kittle help by signing Jordan Reed to a one year deal.

 

Speaking of the draft, the Red and Gold cashed in on history, as they participated in the first all virtual NFL Draft. In a stacked 2020 class of skill players, such as quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers such as Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy, and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, the Niners couldn’t lose. However, with the pick that they got from the Colts, they traded back one pick so the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can get more protection for Tom Brady, with them getting Tristan Wirfs. With the 14th pick, and Lamb and Jeudy still on the board, they went with neither receiver, instead opting for Javon Kinlaw, a 6’5’’ defensive tackle out of South Carolina. Don’t think that they didn’t miss out on the WR class though, as they traded up from their 31st slot into the 25th slot to select late round gem Brandon Aiuyk out of Arizona State, the proclaimed YAC (yards after catch) king, who has a wingspan an inch shorter than former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. They had no picks on day 2, but day 3 was huge. The Niners started off the day by making another blockbuster trade, getting former pro bowl offensive lineman Trent Williams for a 5th round pick. As they progressed through the rounds, they drafted another lineman, Colton Mckivitz out of West Virginia, with a pick they traded Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins for, and got Tight End Charlie Woerner from Georgia, with a pick they traded Marquise Goodwin for to the Philadelphia Eagles for. In the final round of the draft they cashed in on another wide receiver, this time Jauan Jennings out of Tennessee. They also signed some undrafted free agents; Chase Harrell, a tight end out of Arkansas, JaMycal Hasty, a running back out of Baylor, Darrion Daniels, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska, Jared Mayden, a safety out of Alabama, and Josh Hokit, a fullback out of Fresno State, and a few other players who they waived either before training camp or after training camp started. 

 

Before training camp even started, a major injury struck. That injury belonged to rookie extraordinaire from last year Deebo Samuel. Was this how training camp was gonna be?

 

The answer is yes. The injury bug swept through Santa Clara throughout the entirety of training camp, which forced Shanahan and Lynch to make some moves. The first was returning receiver Jalen Hurd, sidelined last year with a vertebrae injury, tore his ACL while training on a side field, effectively ending his season. The player to replace him was none other than veteran wide receiver Tavon Austin. After that, rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk suffered hamstring tightness, which forced Shanahan to get wide receiver Kevin White. Next, all of the offensive line got beat up, with Daniel Brunskill being injured, as well as Ross Reynolds with a bone bruise. 

 

Despite all this, 49ers reporters such as Grant Cohn of Sports Illustrated, Matt Maiocco of NBC, and Matt Barrows of The Athletic are saying a lot of good things about training camp. Jerick McKinnon is playing as advertised from when they signed him, Kendrick Bourne is becoming a great receiver, the defense is playing as good if not better than last year, and the rookies are looking great. Also the Niners struck gold on undrafted free agents yet again from what I am seeing from these reports by the reporters. 

 

The 53 player roster was then announced on September 5th. Out of the draft picks, UDFAs, and veteran additions that the 49ers had in training camp, all but Jauan Jennings, Darrion Daniels, Jared Mayden, Josh Hokit, and Kevin White did not make the roster, and will start the season on the 49ers practice squad. Deebo Samuel was then activated off the injured list, and will most likely be out for week 1, and Tavon Austin is on injured reserve and will miss the season. 

 

After the disappointment of Super Bowl 54, and the loss and gain of some players, as well as the weird atmosphere they will be playing in, this proclaimed revenge tour will be sweet and bring a bunch of answers. Will Shanahan get his first ring? Will Garoppolo get a ring as a starter? Week One starts on September 13th against the Cardinals, so let the revenge tour begin.