Football Team

Mike Greenberg compares Washington to 2019 49ers

Football Team

The San Francisco 49ers snuck up on everyone in 2019, clinching the top seed in the NFC and making it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. 

That team was the second-worst team in football the year before but managed to turn things around so quickly thanks to a loaded defensive line, steady quarterback play and rock-solid coaching from Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. 

Could the Washington Football Team be on the same trajectory? ESPN's Mike Greenberg certainly thinks so, as he explained his dark-horse pick for the NFL season Friday on Get Up

"They are the 49ers of two years ago," Greenberg said. "Start with the quarterback, who has been far more magic than tragic of late. These are the numbers the last three seasons. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a higher completion percentage than Tom Brady, he has a higher touchdown percentage than Dak Prescott, he has a higher QBR than Deshaun Watson. He's been very good and his new team is sneaky loaded. It won an admittedly bad division last year with the worst quarterback play in the sport. They were 32nd out of 32 teams."

Washington wasn't the second-worst team in the NFL last season, but they were in a very similar spot after the 2019 season when they took Chase Young with the second pick in the draft. Their defensive line was notably strong, but they took Young anyway to turn their front four into a force of nature. 

 

Now that their defense seems ready to become one of the elite units in the league, all they need is the type of steady quarterback play Jimmy Garoppolo gave the 49ers during their magical run. 

"The formula [is there]," Greenberg said. "Good enough quarterback play, dominant defensive line, a coach who knows how to win. That was San Francisco two seasons ago, and that team wound up in the Super Bowl. So if this one does that at the end of this year, just remember, you absolutely should have seen it coming."

Few have mentioned Washington in the same sentence as other NFC contenders like the Buccaneers, Packers and Rams, but if everything works out for them, Greenberg doesn't appear to have any doubts about their ceiling.

"The NFL gets so much attention all year round that it is hard to imagine it could ever have a secret as well kept as the Washington Football Team is headed into this year," Greenberg said. "Caesars has them at 25-to-1 to win the NFC. Even Vegas doesn't see this is coming."