Why 49ers' win over Steelers could be season-defining, Mike Shumann says

Why 49ers' win over Steelers could be season-defining, Mike Shumann says

The 49ers’ dominating Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was objectively impressive.

But the 49ers’ ability to pull out a 24-20 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers after committing five turnovers was enough to convince one member of the organization’s first Super Bowl championship team that this squad is made of the right stuff.

“That was a defining win at Levi’s Stadium for this Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era,” former 49ers wide receiver and long-time Bay Area broadcaster Mike Shumann said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It was good to see them fight back, then come back and win the game when they got behind.”

The 49ers showed the ability to overcome adversity in a way unlike they have been able to accomplish the past five seasons. For instance, last season the 49ers outgained the Arizona Cardinals, 447 yards to 220. But the 49ers lost to the Cardinals, 28-18, because of five giveaways.

Shumann even referenced the NFC Championshp Game in January 1982, when the 49ers committed six turnovers and still beat the Dallas Cowboys as Joe Montana and Dwight Clark teamed up for "The Catch."

This was a landmark win for the 49ers against the Steelers because rarely in recent years have they been able to win a game in which they decisively lose the turnover battle.

“When you have team like the 49ers that has struggled, you have to re-learn how to win, especially with this organization because now they’re are all Kyle’s and John Lynch’s guys,” Shumann said.

“It showed this team is making progress and the character they have ... Now you got a team with some character.”

The 49ers overcame the on-field mistakes and also managed a strong offensive showing with rookie lineman Justin Skule filling in at left tackle for Joe Staley, who is expected to be out six to eight weeks with a fractured lower leg. After winning two games on the road to open the season, the 49ers improved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history since 1998.

“All in all, with the injuries and turnovers, it shows you they’re ready to make the next step,” Shumann said.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is looking more comfortable after struggling in the team’s Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay. Both of his interceptions on Sunday were passes that deflected off the hands of his intended receivers.

[RELATED: 49ers in top 10, Raiders fall in 2019 NFL power rankings]

Garoppolo delivered the game-winner to wide receiver Dante Pettis in the closing minutes with a 5-yard pass he fit between two Steelers defenders. It was the kind of victory that could later be seen a springboard to a successful season, Shumann said.

“Now the 49ers are in a dogfight to get to maybe the playoffs,” Shumann said. “I don’t know if they can win their division because their schedule is pretty tough, but maybe they can be that wild card.”

49ers UDFAs Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty making most of odd offseason

49ers UDFAs Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty making most of odd offseason

Salvon Ahmed and JaMycal Hasty were always going to face an uphill battle to make the 49ers' roster, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made the hill a little steeper.

Under normal circumstances, the 49ers' undrafted free agents would have a chance to make a good first impression on the field at rookie minicamp. That's how Matt Breida won his roster spot in 2017. But instead, Hasty and Ahmed spend four hours on Zoom meetings with their position group and coaches, trying to learn everything about the 49ers' offense. The first two hours are spent with the entire group, while the final two hours are just Ahmed, Hasty and undrafted fullback Josh Hokit with assistant coach Bobby Turner.

While it's been unusual, the rookies think it's been a productive start to their NFL careers.

“You don’t have to worry about practices, you don’t have to worry about anything but that one, four-hour window to meet,” Hasty told The Athletic's Matt Barrows. “So there are a lot of things you can cover. There’s a ton of information to learn and pick up on. I mean, the rookies help each other out, the vets bring us along. It’s been a great experience, man.”

The 49ers have built a strong culture and that plays a big role in helping new blood catch up to the rest of the group.

“I think it’s showing what it’d be like even if we were there,” Ahmed told The Athletic. “And I think the culture is strong enough to show through our Zoom meetings. I think how we’re acting now is definitely how everyone would act if we were at the facility.”

The 49ers are likely to carry five running backs in total between the active roster and practice squad. Pencil in Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman for two of those spots. Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson, Ahmed and Hasty will have to battle for the final three spots, with McKinnon and Wilson likely having a leg up.

The final roster spot likely will come down to a position battle between Ahmed and Hasty.

Ahmed, 5-foot-11, 197-pounds, never became the game-breaking back he was projected to be when he committed to Washington out of high school. He has quick feet and can be explosive, but he needs to work on his vision and decisiveness to stick in the NFL.

As for Hasty, the Baylor product was misused during his time in Waco, Texas. He's an elite athlete who profiles as a third-down back who can uncover out of the backfield and make plays in the passing game. He's a tough, hard-nosed back who has the explosiveness to fit well in the 49ers' zone-rushing scheme. He's an electric, change-of-pace back who has the potential to morph into a dynamic weapon for coach Kyle Shanahan.

[RELATED: Nine 49ers facing make-or-break season in 2020]

The 49ers might be able to hold a full-squad minicamp in June if Governor Gavin Newsom allows it. That will be the first time Ahmed and Hasty will take the field as 49ers. They must make the most of every opportunity in order to make the roster.

They've already been doing that in the Zoom classroom. The field world comes next.

NFL Network's Adam Rank goes all-in on 49ers after bad 2019 prediction

NFL Network's Adam Rank goes all-in on 49ers after bad 2019 prediction

Not many would have expected the success the 49ers gave us last season. Well, one guy in particular really didn't expect it.

NFL Network analyst Adam Rank might be the main person to eat his words following his preseason prediction that the 49ers would go 3-13 went viral. But he has redeemed himself. 

Kyle Shanahan's team obviously was more successful than that, going 13-3 in the regular season and leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV before collapsing against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rank heard it all from 49ers fans, even admitting he was an idiot for saying such a thing

Rank wrote Tuesday on NFL.com that not only are the 49ers becoming one of the league’s “model organizations,” but also that walking away from Miami without a ring didn’t mean they were out of the fight -- not even a little bit.

The 49ers have everything going for them in 2020 for another deep run. They'll bring back tight end George Kittle, who looks to be the highest-paid at the position in NFL history. Jimmy Garoppolo has a Super Bowl appearance as a starter under his belt. Nick Bosa looks to have another successful season and we get to see the freakishly athletic ability of rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

That’s just what’s happening on the field.

Rank praised the front office, led by general manager John Lynch, for part of that success as well. 

Rank knows that any team could face a post-championship hangover that not even the strongest of Gatorade could cure. Their expectations are high, but this team is the real deal -- and naturally, they’ll have a target on their backs. But Rank is done doubting -- but said he understands if people don’t believe him.

[RELATED: Richard Sherman wants 49ers detractors to keep doubting them]

“I know me praising the 49ers will make the fans uneasy,” Rank told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “Like whenever Ric Flair would cozy up to Sting. And as much as you'd like me to discredit them again, we don't have to resort to such tricks because this is a very good team. Though I don't blame you if you don't trust me.”

He said it, he’s a believer. Now, let’s give the guy a break.