Some people are fans of the San Francisco 49ers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the San Francisco 49ers. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: San Francisco 49ers.
Your 2020 record: 6-10, with an injured reserve list as long and star-studded as an “In Memoriam” reel at the Oscars. All of them, dead. This team had so many injuries last season that their fucking MRI truck broke down. Aaron Rodgers took them to the woodshed. The only winning team they beat was a lifeless Rams team on the verge of teardown mode. They had to bench Nick Mullens for C.J. Beathard. Finally, they got kicked out of their own stadium when county officials banned all contact sports mid-pandemic and forced them to play their final two home games in Arizona, where infection rates were even worse. When you’re an NFC team and you lose a Super Bowl, the hangover is ALWAYS a cruel one. Surely, a collapse this swift and definitive called for change at the top, did it not?
Your coach: Fuck.
That’s Kyle Shanahan, aka Football Kendall Roy. Shanny still has a losing career record and had his best assistant coach leave for the Jets. And yet not only is Shanny still here, he’s in charge of everything. You can’t take a shit at the Niners’ stadium without Kyle granting you permission. The worst part is that he just bought himself three more years of power after ruining the first retail-price quarterback he was given. Hard to believe that, in the Bay Area, a white guy with a famous dad but unremarkable accomplishments would be handed a billion-dollar company.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? DeMeco Ryans, Wes Welker, AND Leonard Hankerson on this staff. It’s a Guy-kakke!
Your quarterback: In what can only be described as a master plan, the Niners handed Jimmy Garoppolo nearly $50 million guaranteed three years ago, watched him injure every available body part, let him twist all offseason until his trade value became lower than an NFT of the Emmanuel Sanders Super Bowl incompletion, failed to replace him with Aaron Rodgers, failed to replace him with the charred remains of Matthew Stafford, and then traded not one but three first-round picks to move up in the draft and take a guy who aspired to play quarterback for U-Minnesota in high school and was told no.
That new quarterback is North Dakota State’s own Trey Lance, who played at Carson Wentz’s alma mater. And before you say, “Well look, no one can be a bigger pile of shit than Carson Wentz,” please heed this warning:
“When Carson Wentz was coming out, scouts would say, ‘Give me a red flag,’” said former NDSU coach Chris Klieman, now at Kansas State. “I’d tell them there isn’t one. The same with Trey Lance, there’s not one red flag about him.”
Now there is. Any enthusiasm still reverberating from the Lance pick is due solely to the fact that he’s not Mac Jones. Who the fuck wants Mac Jones? All Mac Jones did was play for three years with and against pro-level talent, at the best school in history in terms of NFL player development. WHAT A CHUMP. No no no, gimme the dude who only played only one full season of college football, in 2019, and only played one game last season—a rousing victory over the powerhouse that is Central Arkansas—before the rest of North Dakota State’s season was postponed until spring due to the pandemic and he opted out of it. THAT’S the guy I want. I want a guy who’s as raw a prospect as a newborn infant. And I don’t want the Niners to have ANY short-term future for him to prosper within. That way, Jed York will never have a viable excuse to shitcan my asshole head coach. THIS IS BLISS.
For the moment, Lance has already been declared a backup, and so I get to read 58,000 puff pieces about how Actually yes, Jimmy Garoppolo is fine with this and not bitter at all and he couldn’t ask for a better teammate. This is the collegiality equivalent of every X player’s knee feels better than it ever has! preseason lie, which Garoppolo himself is often a subject of. So we’ll do the whole dog-and-pony show about the Niners taking their time with Lance right up to the moment where Garoppolo has his own femur shoved up his ass in the middle of a September game. After that, your options are Nate Sudfeld and Josh Rosen, both of which are hilarious for distinct reasons. Bet you didn’t even know Josh Rosen was still in the NFL. It’s OK. No one did.
What’s new that sucks: Slim pickings here. Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Solomon Thomas, and Richard Sherman are all gone. This is the beginning of what will be a gradual exodus of everyone from the Super Bowl team. It’s like when the Harbaugh Niners fell apart, only slower and more painful. To ease the sting, the Niners brought in running back Wayne Gallman, occasional 200-rating passer Mohamed Sanu, and center Alex Mack. WHOA HOLY SHIT IT’S LIKE THE 1995 NINERS ROSTER ALL OVER AGAIN!
What has always sucked: Meanwhile, everyone in Santa Clara still resents the Niners’ presence in their community, the same way San Franciscans resent the homeless:
Following criticism from San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that Santa Clara County did not give his team an advanced warning that county officials would be shutting down Levi’s Stadium for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a county official fired back and questioned the 49ers’ values. County executive Jeff Smith said it was hard to believe the team had no indication the shutdown was coming “given how serious the situation is both locally and across the country,” and suggested the team should cease playing altogether.
The Niners only arrived in Santa Clara seven years ago, remember. In that time, they’ve been sued by the town, had their rent increased instead of reduced as requested, tried to bill the town over half a mil for floor polishing, may have illegally used a public golf course as an overflow parking lot, and accused a city attorney of harassing them over Zoom. So is it really a shock that the Niners deserted San Francisco only to have their new hometown say, Actually, it would be better if you guys just folded? Of course not.
The Niners are a flawless case study for how a North American sports team can engineer a vast relocation scheme without technically relocating. It’s no different from the Atlanta Braves moving to the Greenwich of Georgia, or the Texas Rangers abandoning a stadium built for them built in 1994 in favor of an oversized Bass Pro Shop that everyone in the world already fucking hates. It’s the story of a team with a long history and a devoted fanbase deliberately re-engineering themselves into parasitic afterthought. Jed York got the municipal part of this plan down cold. The on-field product isn’t far behind.
All the luxury box holders just left the Bay Area to colonize Lake Tahoe. Nick Bosa is a racist white girl magnet.
What might not suck: I believe, and I really do mean this, that Trey Sermon will be a better NFL player than his college teammate Justin Fields. The OTHER Trey will not be.
Ratto says: Kyle Shanahan is a genius, as anyone familiar with his 29-35 record will attest. Yes, they’ve had injuries, but nobody ever blamed injuries for the end of the Ottoman Empire. 49er fans, being the revolting frontrunners they are, will love Shanahan until they go 4-4 in the first half and they demand the return of Jim Tomsula to bring the team back to its historic roots. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Deommodore Lenoir, with a hat/tip to Josh Rosen.
HEAR IT FROM NINERS FANS!
I hope they somehow trade for Aaron Rodgers just to watch him shit all over this coaching staff.
I have season tickets on the shady side of the stadium with fast access to decent beer and clean restrooms. It’s still difficult to figure out why I should go watch a game.
Jed York’s hairline.
Every year we are treated to endless offseason workout hype vids only for half our roster to be on IR by week 4.
The only one of my friends who is also a fan swears that his PSL was a savvy investment that’s gonna start paying off soon.
The more Jimmy G plays, the more Kyle Shanahan looks like a hopeless alcoholic on the sidelines. He can’t throw the ball more than 20 yards and has the leadership qualities of a 16-year-old manager at McDonalds.
Fuck Chip Kelly with a rusty spoon.
We used three firsts on a quarterback whose claim to fame is running over 210-pound FCS linebackers. Now he joins a team that loses four running backs to injuries every year.
Remember Jeff Tomsula? I would, except my brain got incinerated by the enormous magnifying glass that wonder boy put in his new stadium in suburban San Jose.
Hopefully the California exodus participants took the Niners’ injuries with them.
I’m an optimist. I’m absolutely positive that last season was the fluke, not the Super Bowl season. I’m positive that the injuries that ravaged the team a year ago will not be as severe or common. I’m positive the 49ers will make the playoffs and, quite possibly, the Super Bowl. Finally, I’m quite positive Kyle Shanahan will piss it away again by being too smart for his own good.
As for Santa Clara, what used to be a somewhat quirky Palo Alto burb with an occasionally plucky Jesuit University is now a fiefdom overrun with Intel bros and VC ghouls. To JUST be comfortable in Santa Clara your family better be clearing 140k a year to live in a creaky subdivision and drive a six-year-old Camry.
One of my earliest happiest memories is of my Dad holding my hand while we walked down a Chinatown street. My Steve Young t-shirt jersey reaching practically to my knees. I talked to my Dad last night and the most enthusiasm he could muster was that Robert Saleh is a hell of a DC. When I reminded him that Saleh was now the head coach of the Jets, he said and I quote, “Huh. That’s not gonna work out well for anyone.”
Kyle Shanahan probably kicks dogs for sport.
1. Last season, like clockwork, the commentators would say: “This team has been decimated by injuries. Starting on the offensive line today we have a used Amana refrigerator, a recently called-up practice squad parking attendant, and a fat guy who showed up early to the game in a Patrick Willis jersey. And on offense we’re going to see a ham sandwich at running back taking handoffs from a t-shirt cannon mounted to a Razor scooter. BUT any team coached by Shanahan has a chance!”
2. By about week 6 it was evident there were no viable quarterbacks on the team. They kicked the tires on every has-been former starting quarterback in the phone book except for a former 49er that came one play away from winning a Super Bowl and who is rather famously available, in shape, waiting for a phone call from a team. They decided it was a better service to the fans to forfeit the season in early October than to bring on a player who took the bold public stance that killing black people is, in fact, bad.
We haven’t won a Super Bowl since baggy jeans, a turtleneck and a sport coat was considered an appropriate outfit for formal occasions. We might not win another until that trend returns.
The Niners are setting me up. I know it. They make the big trade up for the QB everyone wanted. They re-signed all of their big free agents to reasonable deals. They brought back Jimmy G in case Lance isn’t ready. They brought back the 1994 throwbacks, my single favorite thing they’ve even worn.
It’s got to be a set up Jimmy G is gonna break his fibula opening week. Bosa is going to go full MAGA and poison the locker room culture, Trey Lance is gonna be in concussion protocol by Week 5.
The team sits right in the heart of Silicon Valley across from a shitty strip mall with Indian food you love, in a stadium with summer temperatures hotter than Venus and arguably worse air quality. Frying your fans to a crisp so they buy more $20 bottles of water is a feature, not a bug.
We fired our top-10 QB, who came this close to winning the Super Bowl, for the chance to watch a QB who played three games in college in front of 11 cows and a guy who got arrested trying to break into the Capitol.
Oh but we’re supposed to worship our coach (49ers record: 31-36) because he can throw a football into a pizza oven.
It’s in the suburbs of an entirely different city, and not even the next closest city. If you manage to get there, you get slowly broasted to death by the unblinking sun while staring at a 10-story wall of fucking luxury suites on what would be the shady side of the stadium. People live in San Francisco because we like it to be 62 degrees outside every day of the year – we don’t want to watch our football inside Paulie Walnuts’ sun tanning reflector. We play in a division with the Seahawks, and have to go in there every year and see firsthand the advantage of a stadium engineered to amplify crowd noise like a Marshall stack. But when we have the chance to design our own home field advantage, do we copy them? No, we make sure the fans are as lethargic and disengaged as possible.
Fuck Kyle Williams.
It was a pleasure watching my team last season go from a SB run to everyone on the team having Garoppolo’s Exploding Leg Syndrome starting in Week 2.
Jimmy G is the most handsome man with no legs since Gary Sinise.
With the 49ers recent history of knee and ankle issues, I’m absolutely terrified to play a team coached by Dan Campbell in Week 1.
Nobody locally gives a shit about this team anymore. They moved so far south that people north of the Golden Gate care more about the Seahawks than this shitpile.
We are the Dolphins of the NFC West: a once well-regarded franchise with its best days in the past.
Every year, everyone (accurately) bags on Levi’s Stadium for being a Rhode Island away from its namesake city, looking like someone gave a freight elevator a glow-up, and feeling like you’re standing in the middle of a solar farm in Arizona.
What they leave out is how the closer you get to the stadium, the more it looks like an 80s sci-fi art piece full of glossy buildings and highways and maybe a flying car and no sign of actual human life. It’s nothing but giant corporate monoliths and landscaped parking lots and dying, fungus-infested palm trees. It has all the character of landing on Arrakis, except there a sandworm would eat you immediately and end your misery, which is something the 49ers are completely incapable of doing.
The Niners want to reject their host city, and that feeling is entirely mutual. The team and the City of Santa Clara are constantly bickering over ongoing stadium operations. It’s gotten to the point where current owner and forever failchild Jed York actively financed a slate of City Council candidates to get his way. The team also demanded that Santa Clara fire its auditor when that auditor uncovered “discrepancies” (which is probably a charitable term for ratfuckery) in the way the team was managing the stadium finances. (Credit to Neil deMause at Field of Schemes).
Eddie DeBartolo was pardoned by Trump.
You’ll never convince me that Nick Bosa wasn’t at the insurrection in January.
In a league that feels like nothing but a cynical, empty exercise in branding, it is disheartening to know your team is the MOST cynical, empty exercise in branding.
I’ve never been to Levis and I doubt I ever will, that since the stadium was designed without the presence of humans in mind.
Patrick Willis retired early to get away from this team and promptly got scammed out of millions by Proto Adam Neumann.
The new stadium is an air fryer that doubles as a football venue. You go to a game and are surrounded by crypto bros hopped up on biohacker supplements arguing whether Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos is a better fucking astronaut. Or woke Karens with their quiverfull of homeschooled, unvaccinated children in tow, wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt while chewing out a concession stand worker because they don’t sell raw water or offer locally sourced nacho cheese.
Submissions for the NFL previews are already closed, alas. Next up: Los Angeles Chargers.