The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, but the team isn’t wallowing in self-pity because they feel they have a bright future ahead of them.
After midseason acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo led the team to a win over the Chicago Bears, their second win of the season, the 49ers are optimistic about their chances of finishing the year strong and planting the seed for a successful 2018 campaign.
The 49ers apparently aren’t alone in that thinking with oddsmakers making them only a three point underdog against the Houston Texans this week. If they defeat the Texans, expect the 49ers odds for the season to improve.
Even though they only have two wins this year, the 49ers have been competitive in all but four games this year, despite having one of the worst rosters in the league. Their competitiveness in the face of adversity is a testament to head coach Kyle Shanahan, who has in stilled a sense of pride into a team that has lacked competitive fire since the team fired Jim Harbaugh.
With Garoppolo in the lineup the 49ers are hoping to get a better feel for their new quarterback in the last four games of the season to see if he is indeed the franchise quarterback they are hoping he will be.
If Garoppolo plays as well or better than he did against the Bears, the 49ers won’t have to waste their first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on a quarterback, and can focus on addressing the other holes they have, like their offensive line.
When asked about how he got the team to continue playing hard despite their record, Shanahan said he told the players he wanted them to be proud of the way they play. He added that despite their record, he wants his players to play their best every week, so they can be proud of the effort they give, win, lose or draw.
Even when they lose, Shanahan makes sure to point out what the team did right to encourage them to continue bringing the same effort, which was evident when the team went through a stretch in which they lost five consecutive games by three points or less.
Instead of getting frustrated with the losses, the team kept playing hard and could have added a few more wins to their record if a few bounces went their way.
If they can finish the year on a strong note, Shanahan will be able to take note of what was working well for the team and what wasn’t and make some adjustment in the offseason, while bringing in more players that fit his system.
Shanahan has called this season a tough but necessary one. The team isn’t happy about losing so many games, but the lessons they learn during the tough times will be useful to them going forward. He also said when the team has an improved roster next season, he expects some of those close games that ended up being losses end up being wins.
Despite the 2-10 record, the 49ers know that things will get better next season if they put in the same effort they did this year.