Down, but definitely not out
Niner Report|November 2020
The San Francisco 49ers sure know how to take a punch.
Craig Massei

Isn’t that what a champion is supposed to do?

There is no easy way to get to the top in the NFL. It’s even more difficult to remain there. When you start playing for titles and sterling silver trophies, you take everybody’s best shot. And in this strange season of COVID-19 and the unforeseen, the shots just kept coming and coming at the defending NFC champions, a combination of blows that would put most teams down for the count.

You just had to know these proud and talented 49ers would start fighting back, that they were too good and too determined and have too many places still to go not to pick themselves up off the mat.

Then again, you really had to start wondering after San Francisco’s first two-game losing streak since 2018 settled in with surely the most embarrassing and bewildering defeat of the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch era.

It’s still a bit difficult to fathom Miami 43, San Francisco 17 in Week 5, and probably still will be as the 49ers play out the season, a season during which losses like that and the one before it against Philadelphia — both home games against losing teams that San Francisco was heavily favored to win — could hang ominously over the team’s intentions of getting back to the Super Bowl, particularly with the murderer’s-row schedule the 49ers now have ahead of them.

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LOOKING BACK…

It was a season to remember. It was a season to forget. Either way, you look at it, it was the strangest of seasons for San Francisco that you will ever see. Looking back at the year that was to illustrate that point, The Niner Report has assembled the best, worst and most unconventional of the 49ers’ 2020 season.

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TO BE DETERMINED…

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TOP 8 Worst encore seasons

There have been plenty of tough acts to follow in the history of the 49ers franchise with a team that has five Super Bowl championships, seven Super Bowl visits, 16 trips to the NFC Championship game, and 27 playoff appearances. That kind of success has seen the 49ers enter many seasons over the years looking to take the next step to greatness or simply maintain it. That makes them fall and crash even worse when San Francisco failed to achieve those goals coming off triumphant seasons. The 2020 49ers know all about it, which lands them a place on this list of the worst encore seasons in franchise history.

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SEASON IN REVIEW

Did somebody say Super Bowl hangover?

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ROOKIE REVIEW

After building the 49ers into NFC champions with young talent during their first three years together — when San Francisco had a total of 40 rookies see action from 2017-2019 — the team’s leadership tandem of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan found themselves with considerably less draft capital at their disposal in the fourth year of their partnership.

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GOOD MOVE OR BAD MOVE?

Revisiting 49ers’ 2020 personnel decisions

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STOCK UP STOCK DOWN

STOCK UP STOCK DOWN

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SOLD ON SALEH

Highly regarded DC likely to leave San Francisco after season for higher position

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SHOPPING FOR A NEW DC

With the imminent departure of Robert Saleh during the offseason to a head coaching position elsewhere in the NFL, the 49ers will find themselves searching for a new defensive coordinator for the first time since 2017. With the defensive talent the 49ers have on hand, and San Francisco possessing a playoff-ready roster and one of the NFL’s most respected coaching staffs, the position will be attractive to a wide variety of candidates, including several veteran coaches who have had previous success in the league. Here’s a look at some top candidates who could be in the running to become San Francisco’s new DC in 2021.

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TOP 10 Team executives

Achieving the highest level of success at every stop of his football lifetime, John Lynch climbed the ladder from collegiate star to nine-time NFL ProBowler to respected television analyst before he joined the 49ers as a first-time general manager in 2017. Since then, he’s become one of the men most responsible for building the franchise back into a champion with his shrewd moves and organizational acumen. Named the NFL’s 2019 Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, Lynch has quickly earned his place on this list of the greatest team executives in 49ers history.

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