No NFL team has been plagued by injury more so far in the 2020 season than the 49ers. A staggering injury report has played a major part in San Francisco winning just four games through nine weeks, after going undefeated through the same stretch in 2019.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman are just some of the players who make up the nearly $80 million of 2020 salary occupying the 49ers’ injured reserve list.
NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms believes that without the unrelenting wave of injuries, the 49ers would be a Super Bowl contender this season, and is confident the team will return to an elite level next year with some more luck on the health front.
“The rest of the roster is in a really good spot,” Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Liffmann. “There’s a lot of good defensive linemen, we know Nick Bosa will be back, we’ll see what happens with Dee Ford, he probably won’t be back, but damn those two middle linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw holy cow, safeties pretty good, I mean you can go through it, and just go every position has something positive to talk about just about.
“I still think it’s one of the best rosters in the game, you know I think Kyle Shanahan is one of the best coaches in the game, and yes, I think this would be a totally different story and a totally different team if they were healthy this year. And I don’t think too much is gonna change next year, I still think they’ll be one of the cream of the crop teams in the NFL.”
The exception in Simms’ mind, is the quarterback position, a position which Simms believes the 49ers could be inclined to make a change at this offseason.
“He has been injured and everything like that, but it just seems like the same questions are surrounding the 49ers about Jimmy Garoppolo and their love for him and all that,” Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. “And I can’t sit here and say that the play has been so good that that would be ludicrous.
“I haven’t talked to Kyle Shanahan since before training camp, but knowing Kyle, his expectations, I would think there’s some frustrations there with how the offense has looked at times and what he expects out of quarterback play.”
The 49ers did go 13-3 in Garoppolo’s first full season as the team’s starting quarterback, but appeared to mask the signal-caller somewhat during the playoffs, and his collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV led to an offseason of question marks.
A confirmed inquiry into Tom Brady during his free agency only furthered those questions, and a brutal start to the 2020 season has pushed many 49ers fans to begin dissecting the upcoming crop of quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Regardless of whether it is Garoppolo, a rookie draft pick, or another veteran under center for the 49ers next season, Simms sees San Francisco being right back in the conversation among the NFC’s top teams.