San Francisco 49ers
Rebuilding and Contending at The Same Time
Each of the 32 NFL chapters in this book is designed to answer two questions: What happened in 2020? And what's going to happen in 2021? For the San Francisco 49ers, what happened in 2020 is simple: everyone got hurt. We'll expand on that and break it down in detail, but at the end of the day that's really all you need to know. What's going to happen in 2021, however, is a much more interesting question. The 49ers are going to attempt something that has never been done before: win a Super Bowl while simultaneously developing their quarterback of the future.
The 49ers suffered 161.6 adjusted games lost last year, not including COVID-related absences. That was most in the league by a wide margin, and the second-most in our database behind the 171.5 of the 2017 Chicago Bears. They had 74.7 AGL on offense, second only to Philadelphia, and a league-high 86.9 AGL on defense, 26 more than anyone else. And when we say everyone got hurt, we do really mean that everyone got hurt to one degree or another. Their healthiest position group was linebacker, where they ranked 15th in AGL; their healthiest position group on offense was wide receiver, where they ranked 21st. They were in the bottom five at every other position group on the field. That includes finishing third-to-last in defensive back AGL and next-to-last in quarterback AGL, and they set an all-time record with 46.3 AGL among defensive linemen. By the time the Week 2 win over the Jets was over, three of the team's top defensive ends—Nick Bosa (torn ACL), Solomon Thomas (also a torn ACL), and Dee Ford (back)—were all out for the year.
Elsewhere, Weston Richburg, the hypothetical starter at center, missed the entire season with a torn patella suffered in 2019 and thus led the team with 16.0 AGL (he retired this offseason). His backup, Ben Garland, only played in five games due to ankle and calf injuries. Cornerback Richard Sherman (11.0 AGL, calf) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (9.3, groin/toe) were the biggest losses in the...