DOWN THE STRETCH
Niner Report|January 2021
49ers under microscope as season comes to close
Craig Massei

As this tumultuous, have-to-see-it-to-believe-it season bears down on its conclusion, the 49ers have so many individuals on their gutted roster playing for jobs and 2021 roles with the team that it’s difficult to keep track of all of them. Here, The Niner Report takes a look at the most significant 49ers veterans who will be under the microscope over the final weeks as San Francisco plays out the conclusive stretch of its season. These are individuals that could be playing down the homestretch for their futures in San Francisco — and in some cases, even their NFL careers — and we analyze the reasons that is so with each particular player.

QBs Nick Mullens/Jimmy Garoppolo: What transpires at quarterback over the next few months and into the 2021 offseason is one of the most consequential issues facing the 49ers and the direction of the franchise. And, since only one quarterback can play at a time, we’ll combine San Francisco’s top two signal-callers for this purpose, since the future of both players with the 49ers is in question. After Garoppolo was lost to an ankle injury for the second time this season in Week 8, Mullens started San Franciscso’s next five games and could potentially start the rest of the way with the 49ers all but eliminated from the NFC playoff picture entering Week 15. The 49ers, however, have been suggesting throughout the first two weeks of December that they expect Garoppolo to be healthy enough to play over the final weeks of the season and will put him behind center if he is. Regardless of who takes snaps the rest of the way, everything these quarterbacks do will be heavily evaluated, since Mullens will become a restricted free agent in 2021, and the 49ers can move on from Garoppolo’s exorbitant franchise-quarterback salary if they choose. The 49ers would face a minimal cap hit while saving $24.1 million in cap space next year — money that could be used to sign other players — if San Francisco does indeed decide to part ways with the inconsistent, injury-plagued Garoppolo.

RB Tevin Coleman: The sixth-year veteran played an integral part in San Francisco’s three-headed monster at running back that helped the 49ers finish second in the NFL last season in rushing offense, finishing the season with 544 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. But Coleman has had a horrible encore season, missing eight games with a knee injury and averaging just 1.7 yards on his 23 carries this year entering the final quarter of the season. Coleman’s December return to the lineup in Week 13 after missing the previous three games resulted in him carrying the ball twice for minus-11 yards and then never getting another touch the rest of the game. Coleman obviously will need to take better advantage of any opportunities he might receive the rest of the way if he hopes to be offered a second contract with the team.

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