The 49ers began the 2020 NFL season with a defeat, and then lost several key players to injury in their Week 2 win over the New York Jets -- none bigger than Nick Bosa, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. They're the only team in their division to have lost a game thus far, and with so many key contributors expected to be out for Sunday's game against the New York Giants -- and potentially longer -- perhaps it's time to adjust our expectations.
Or, maybe that's jumping the gun.
While conceding that the Bosa injury is a massive blow, NBC Sports' Chris Simms believes the 49ers still are Super Bowl contenders.
"I do believe they still have a chance, so I'm not going to sell it," Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. "This is what I believe. Does it hurt? Yes, no doubt. Nick Bosa is one of the best defensive players in football -- there's no other way to say it -- and it's only his second year of his career. There's still a lot of really good defensive football players on this football team, and the great thing is, you don't have too many tough teams on the schedule here early on in the season, to buy some time to get healthy, get the team executing all cylinders, all systems go, everything like that."
The 49ers' next three opponents were a combined 0-6 on the season before the Miami Dolphins -- who San Francisco will face at Levi's Stadium in Week 5 -- defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night. Following Sunday's game against a Giants team missing Saquon Barkley, the 49ers will return home for three straight contests, and frankly, it wouldn't come as a surprise if they were sitting at 4-1 going into a crucial divisional matchup against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6.
San Francisco's schedule gets considerably tougher after that, and the 49ers will need some of their injured players to return by then to get through the gauntlet. But in the meantime, they should be able to get by -- assuming no more catastrophic losses.
"But what you will need, of course," Simms continued, "is -- we need George Kittle to get back. We need Deebo Samuel to be healthy. We gotta get Dee Ford back playing consistently. That'll take the edge off of us missing Nick Bosa ... Richard Sherman, when he gets back -- there's still enough talent throughout this roster that I go, 'No, let's not count out the 49ers quite yet.' It's not time for that. It stinks, but it's a deep defensive line, it's talented. Hopefully, we can weather these next few weeks and we'll be okay."
After sitting out the win over the Jets, Kittle appears to be getting closer to a return. He has put in two limited practices so far this week and has yet to be ruled out for Sunday's game against the Giants. Even if the 49ers opt to hold him out of a game on the same shoddy MetLife Stadium turf, Kittle should be back sooner rather than later.
Samuel was placed on the three-week IR prior to Week 1, so he'll be eligible to come off injured reserve following the game against the Giants. When both he and Kittle are activated, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will have his top two weapons at his disposal again.
And speaking of Jimmy G, it doesn't sound like he'll play in Week 3, but the fact that he hasn't already been ruled out certainly bodes well for a quick recovery. He was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded quarterback in Week 2 before sustaining a high ankle sprain, and that was without a full arsenal of skill players.
The 49ers' quest to return to the Super Bowl certainly hasn't started the way they had hoped. But it's still too soon to rule it out, and things could be looking much rosier before long.