It sure doesn't feel like long ago that the San Francisco 49ers were the most hated sports franchise in Seattle, if not the world. Well, I mean, even if "the world" is an exaggeration, certainly the 49ers would at least have a place on the list. Imagine a farmer in Botswana shaking his fist at the mere mention of Jed York. I mean, it's possible that's happened at some point in history but at least the image of it is quite humorous to the writer of this article, if not the readers. How about it readers? Funny or not funny? Tell us in the comments!
It's odd that the rivalry between the 49ers and the Seahawks, for as hyped and heated as it was, really only lasted for two seasons. It may just feel like longer because of offseasons and veiled attempts to make it seem like Seattle was really better than they were in 2011 or the same for San Francisco in 2014, but the heart of the rivalry really only beat verily in 2012 and 2013.
In 2012, the 49ers won the division and the Seahawks went into the playoffs as a flame-engulfed wild card team. They came a Falcons field goal short of meeting in the NFC Championship that year, but would get their opportunity to do just that a year later and of course, Seattle won the game and then the Super Bowl. At that point, it seemed like the two best teams in the NFL played in the NFC West and that many more playoff matchups between the two were forthcoming, but the San Francisco roster that lost that NFC Championship is almost entirely gone, as well as all the coaches.
And there won't be any playoff matchups between the two teams any time soon.
Just six starters from the 49ers in that game remain, including the since-benched Colin Kaepernick. They now have some sort of competition between Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert that is going to be a tougher battle to watch than The Mountain squeezing out some poor soul's eyeballs. Let's just say that Thad Lewis and sixth round rookie Jeff Driskel aren't out of the running for the job either just yet.
San Francisco went 5-11 last season, their worst record since 2007, and finished dead last in scoring at 14.9 points per game. Their starting receivers are Quinton Patton, Torrey Smith, and Bruce Ellington, which definitely puts them in the running for having the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Going up against the secondary units of Seattle and Arizona twice per year, and the emerging/developing defense for the LA Rams, it's not hard to imagine the 49ers repeating as the scoring non-champs. Starting running back Carlos Hyde averaged 3.4 yards per carry after Week 1 last season.
There will also be a lot of competition along the offensive line because nobody besides 31-year-old Joe Staley appears to be very good.
On the bright side, at least the defense also has a number of weaknesses to take pressure off of the offense taking responsibility for every loss next season.
There are some very good players on defense, like NaVorro Bowman, Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, and Ahmad Brooks, plus younger guys like Arik Armstead and seventh overall pick DeForest Buckner. But there are probably going to be areas for every opponent to exploit, like at cornerback, where Kenneth Acker figures to start again (was benched in a game against the Seahawks last year) and just general secondary questions like, "Why did they draft Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt?"
Ward (30th overall) and Tartt (46th overall) appear to be solid backups drafted to do just that -- provide depth -- despite the fact that San Francisco had plenty of areas besides safety and nickel where they needed actual starters.
The 49ers defense may look pretty good at times next year but given how often they're going to be on the field due to an extremely shitty offense, will probably also give up more points than their talent level may normally allow.
So based on all of this, are the San Francisco 49ers overrated, underrated, or properly rated? I would actually have to say they are UNDERRATED. The 49ers look like dogshit because they have no quarterback, no offensive weapons, a bad offensive line, and a defense that isn't near the level of a unit that can carry a team with no offense. They could very well go 1-15 and it wouldn't be all the surprising to me.
Which means there's nowhere to go but up.
Obviously, Chip Kelly is an upgrade over Jim Tomsula. Perhaps he gets as much out of Kaepernick as Jim Harbaugh once did, but he doesn't have Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, or a great offensive line anymore. However, Kelly is more creative than most offensive minds (which does NOT mean he's better, it just means he's more creative) and he could find a formula that helps San Francisco get as many as 17(!) points per game. And with that, maybe the defense has some good days and instead of going 3-13, the 49ers go 6-10.
They are not a good team by any means, but the 49ers are probably underrated.