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49ers Overreactions: Are Niners closer to rebound or rebuild?

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Now that the 49ers are officially eliminated from the NFC playoff race, we buckle in and brace for this first out-of-contention edition of 49ers Overreactions.

Let the sky-is-falling takes begin ... or not.

"The 49ers are not in as bad of shape as people like to think. Let’s get Jimmy back (yes he’s our QB), a healthy Kittle, a healthy Bosa, and a top 10 pick on a pass rusher and all will be well again. Oh wait... I was suppose to be overreacting. #GoNiners" -- @bshine2320

Overreaction? Hmmmm, no.

OK, so much for overreactions. This certainly qualifies as an underreaction, but this is also a reasonable and rational look at the 49ers’ current state.

The building blocks are in place with such players as George Kittle and Nick Bosa, not to mention Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Jimmie Ward, Arik Armstead (yes, folks, he is an important piece of the puzzle) and Javon Kinlaw.

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The first order of business for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan is to explore their options at quarterback.

The roster with Jimmy Garoppolo will look a certain way. The roster without Jimmy Garoppolo will have a different look. But whatever the 49ers decide at quarterback, they have to approach 2021 as being in win-now mode.

This is not a rebuild.

"Trent Williams has played his way out of our budget, and we’ll let him walk and grab a tackle in the first round instead" -- @Tnniner

Overreaction? Yes.

Trent Williams was one of three 49ers selected to the Pro Bowl, and deservedly so. But he will be 33 when he reports to training camp next summer. So how much will another team pay him on the open market?

The 49ers would like to come up with a contract that works for both sides to ensure he does not get to free agency. And that is possible. The 49ers do not have a lot of flexibility, but they can certainly work out a contract that keeps his cap costs low in 2021 and rises over the course of a multi-year contract as NFL revenues increase and the cap takes a major leap.

 

It is doable for the 49ers to re-sign Williams, and I’d expect it to happen.

If it does, the 49ers will not have to spend a draft pick during the first two days of the draft on the offensive line. They can look to address other areas of the team.

"The 49ers injury issues can’t be simply be chalked up to bad luck. We’re going on 7 years now of this team being one of the most injured in the league. Something’s gotta change." -- @49Berserker

Overreaction? Yes and no.

First off, the 49ers did make changes. Early in the 2019 offseason, the 49ers changed the entire structure of their operation.

The club revamped their strength and conditioning staff, and parted ways with their long-time head athletic trainer.

The club hired Ben Peterson for the newly created role of head of player health & performance. In that role, Peterson oversees athletic training, functional performance, nutrition and strength and conditioning.

I do think a lot of the 49ers’ bad luck can be attributed to just that -- bad luck.

But, also, there were too many instances when players returned from absences and sustained other injuries: Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Richie James, K’Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt are the players who immediately come to mind.

All situations are different. And for various reasons Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Jalen Hurd, Weston Richburg and Ronald Blair either barely played this season or did not play at all.

Many of these players the 49ers have acquired had significant injury histories before coming to the 49ers. In other cases, they came to Santa Clara with a clean bill of health.

Perhaps the lesson is that the 49ers must place more emphasis on the medical side of the evaluation in the draft and free agency.

"This might be completely nuts, but maybe Akhello Witherspoon should start the last two games. He looked pretty good. If he plays well against Arizona and Seattle, he might be an option to return next year at a decent value." -- @yosemites78

Overreaction? Yes.

Ahkello Witherspoon had a strong game against the Dallas Cowboys and their group of wide receivers. But I think Jason Verrett and Richard Sherman should start, if they are ready to go.

Witherspoon’s physical skills have never been questioned. But it is clear that he fell out of favor with the coaching staff early in the season.

RELATED: 49ers' Warner, Juszczyk, Williams named to NFC Pro Bowl team

Before the 49ers' Week 5 game against the Miami Dolphins, Witherspoon said he could play only in an emergency. Then, he volunteered to go into the game after fill-in cornerback Brian Allen was roasted repeatedly and the 49ers surrendered 21 points early in the game.

It is time for the 49ers to move on from Witherspoon, just as it’s time for Witherspoon to move on from the 49ers and get a fresh start elsewhere.

"We need a new stadium" -- @kegger007

Overreaction? No.

I’m in complete agreement.

State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, has historically not been kind to the 49ers.