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Why Your Team Sucks 2019: San Francisco 49ers

Photo: Tony Avelar (AP)

Some people are fans of the San Francisco 49ers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the San Francisco 49ers. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: San Francisco 49ers.

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Your 2018 record: 4-12. They gave Jimmy Garoppolo a huge contract based off a handful of games and then his leg fell off. Same with Jerick McKinnon. Even Matt Breida couldn’t stay healthy. It’s like this team is run by Elizabeth Holmes, AND MAYBE IT IS. Last season’s lone highlight for this team was Nick Mullens destroying the Raiders on a Thursday night. Everything else was a writeoff.

They did nearly beat the Packers at Lambeau. Until, that is, Aaron Rodgers went into God mode to tie the game with under two minutes remaining, followed by the Niners stupidly turning the ball over on the ensuing possession, followed by Rodgers coolly maneuvering his team into position to kick the winning field goal at the gun, on a final drive where the Packers weaseled out of a 4th-and-19 thanks to a flag on now-obvious Seahawks sleeper cell agent Richard Sherman.

What else? Ah yes, Reuben Foster got dropped for a second DV arrest. They memory-holed Colin Kaepernick from a team website photo gallery. They got sent to play that Oakland game in a suffocating haze of smoke from the Camp Fire that was unsafe for all citizens but, as expected, deemed perfectly safe for NFL football. Their best pass-catcher was George Kittle. Their defense was 13th in yards allowed and yet gave up over 27 points a game. Here’s a team that’s going to be the “dark horse” for five years and never win more than nine games in any of them.

Your coach: Football Beto O’Rourke. Looks presentable. Says reasonable things. Possibly into The Minutemen. Never wins a fucking thing. Kyle Shanahan just received two grace years thanks to trading for Garoppolo and subsequently watching his knee turn to panko crumbs, but he doesn’t deserve a third. You can only blame outside influences so much before fans and management realize you aren’t good enough to overcome any of them. For me, Kyle Shanahan will always be the supposedly forward-thinking offensive guru who forgot to run the ball with a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl.

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Your new offensive quality control coach is Miles Austin. Remember Miles Austin and his big ol’ choppers?

Baraka... FINISH HIM
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They’re here now! DeMeco Ryans is also on this staff. If the Mike Singletary era taught the York family anything, it’s that prominent former players always make for outstanding additions to your coaching stable. With any luck, one of these dudes will become interim head coach in November and pull his pants down in the locker room to motivate his charges at the half. “Men, this is poop. That’s us right now: poop.”

Your quarterback: Pizza boy! There’s no telling if Jimmy Garoppolo will fully rebound from tearing his ACL last year. I personally believe that when Garoppolo got treatment at TB12 back in New England, Alex Guerrero implanted a series of microscopic detonators throughout his circulatory system, many of them still dormant but ready to be triggered at any second. Regardless, I’m ready for a full summer of hearing about how Garoppolo is moving around great and how he feels better than ever, followed by Ndamukong Suh personally rupturing his QCL and transverse orxxyx in Week 1.

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FUN FACT: Nick Mullens has now started as many games for this franchise as Jimmy Garoppolo. Career-wise, he has a better yards-per-attempt average, an equal TD percentage, and a similar completion percentage. There’s still a chance that Jimmy Garoppolo will turn out to be the shitstomper who so threatened Tom Brady’s status as big dog in New England that Brady demanded Bob Kraft trade him away whenever Kraft happened to be between handjob appointments. But given the Niners’ organizational credibility, I know how this’ll all play out. You know how the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill and then spent seven years chronically deluded that THIS would be his breakout year? That’s you. That’s the nightmare you’re now embarking upon. And this is the exciting part. Wait till Shanny gives up and imports Kirk Cousins for $500 million in 2021.

What’s new that sucks: Nick Bosa!

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Such a fine young man. By law, if the President personally congratulates you on Twitter, it means you’re a terrible person. I’m sure Bosa will just adore having an Arab-American defensive coordinator. The Bosa brothers are like the Gronkowskis if the Gronkowskis liked racism more than partying. This spring, Bosa told reporters that he swore off firing out spicy tweets in case he got drafted by San Francisco, apparently unaware that it takes the average fan in San Francisco proper three hours and four separate public transport agencies to get to the stadium. The Niners play in the Cobb County of the Bay Area. Besides, in so many ways, Bosa is a perfect fit for a city that purports to be ground zero for progressivism but is, in fact, an intolerant and dystopian wasteland where tech bros demand a new ballot measure if they see a homeless person come within 70 feet of their Model S. Bosa never had a thing to worry about to begin with. He’ll be back to retweeting Ben Shapiro in no time. THANK CHRIST.

Elsewhere on defense, the team signed Kwon Alexander and then traded for Dee Ford and gave him $34 million guaranteed. I know Dee Ford seemed like a bright spot on that Chiefs defense last year, what with his 13 sacks and all. But trust me, that defense sucked for a reason. Ford harassing the other team’s QB once a game won’t stop that QB from racking up a 50-burger.

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On offense, the Niners splurged on former Falcon and glorified scatback Tevin Coleman to trade off catastrophic leg injuries with McKinnon. Andy Benoit of SI said Coleman was the best free agent RB available this offseason. Andy Benoit drinks Glidden paint.

What has always sucked: Once again, there’s no one to throw the ball to. It’s like Garoppolo never left Foxboro. Jordan Matthews, who gets passed around like a regifted housewarming present, is now one of the starting wideouts. He’s joined by second-year burner Dante Pettis, alongside rookies Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel, who is NOT the Clemson guy.

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Will that stop people from projecting the Niners to be a wild card contender? It will not. The Niners perfectly fit the Bay Area because they’ve got a shitty, expensive product that they like to hype to the skies without ever actually fixing. “Our new NINR app replaces the sports of football with a sustainable free-range contact freeplay simulation!” They’ve got perfect avatars for their product in Shanny and Garoppolo, who can pass as young and fresh and DISRUPTIVE while being damaged versions of a product you’re already well familiar with.

This franchise is withering away in their tin roof of a stadium, and the current personnel they have in place are only there to temporarily mask the decay. They should envy the Raiders. I mean it. More Raiders fans are going to go to Vegas than the number of Niners fans currently trekking out to Santa Clara. The Raiders are a complete fucking disaster run by a man who eats alone at restaurant bars and is coached by a demented tape goblin, but at least they’ll be somewhere. The Niners are a franchise that has willingly confined itself to a hospice. I’m told the WiFi there is decent.

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What might not suck: Field-level recliners at the JeanHole! It’s like you never left your double-wide.

HEAR IT FROM NINERS FANS!

Paul:

A few years back, I realized that I stopped using “we” when talking about the teams I follow, like most sports fans do. It was only recently that I figured out why: the fucking 49ers.

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Chris:

Our best player’s a fucking fullback.

Sean:

The Niners serve as incontrovertible proof that I fucking hate myself.

Jason:

Our ceiling is 8-8 this season, and I am somehow excited about it.

Joey:

This team is never winning another Super Bowl.

Bobby:

Sherman ran upfield to cover a fade route on the first drive of week 1 last year and hasn’t been seen since.

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Sean:

Someone said in last year’s WYTS that Jed York and Trent Baalke dragged the Niners through the ground and into the Earth’s fucking core.

Well, as we head into year three of the Lynchahan era, I have to conclude: the Niners are still stuck in the Earth’s fucking core.

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David:

Jimmy Garoppolo is done. He isn’t coming back from this. He’ll get hurt again by the third week, disintegrating into a cloud of dust like some useless Avenger. He was the only hope and now that’s done. Don’t even want to talk about shitty ownership, and stadium, and how super smart John Lynch is. It’s all useless.

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Kyle:

Our highest paid receiver’s (Goodwin) contract falls neatly behind our fullback’s (Juszczyk) and ahead of our kicker’s (Gould). Per ESPN: The 49ers are successful on offense by Expected Points Added for 41.9 percent of their snaps with Juszczyk on the field. Without him, they’ve been successful on 41.8 percent of their snaps. Gotta pay those difference makers.

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Jon:

Even if our Super Bowl window had rattled shut years ago, at least I could take some measure of undeserved pride in the team’s association with the one Football Guy who actually, er, stood up for something important. It felt like that, along with the precious memory of Clay Matthews being juked to frozen Lambeau hell, could have sustained me through years of ambivalent Sundays.

Now, our most notable players are a racist Twitter egg and immediately pre-paralysis Millennial Christopher Reeve. Fuck.

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Greg:

Did you know Jordan Matthews had 300 yards receiving last year? Neither did our GM apparently.

Jimmy G’s other knee is going to explode, Jed York is going to fire everyone and Harbaugh will get hired by the Cardinals in a year to mercilessly curbstomp us into another decade of mediocrity.

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Patrick:

I’m a 49ers fan living near Toronto, Canada. I have never seen my favourite team play live. I’ve come to the realization recently that I’d rather see them play in nearby Detroit or Buffalo than travel to Santa Clara.

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Bobby:

The sound of Jimmy’s ACL snapping in week 3 was like an alarm clock waking us from a pipe dream to remind us that 1) the rest of the roster is still hot garbage, and 2) our GM is an ex-player who had zero front office or coaching experience until our man-baby owner gave him a six-year contract to run the team - probably because no actual NFL GM candidates would return Jed York’s calls. The rest of the roster farted their way to a 4-12 season which our franchise QB spent in a leg cast getting blown by a porn star old enough to be his mom.

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Martin:

Who knows how long it will be until Bose makes some dumb MAGA statement that alienates a huge chunk of the area but delights the secretly large contingent of racist bullshit in the fanbase (Usually Fresno residents that weren’t introspective enough to just root for the Raiders)?

The whole season depends on whether our promising young quarterback can “return to form” except that “form” was literally a handful of good games, an offseason, and then exploding his knee in the first game of last season.

I feel like I’ve mentioned this in each of the last ones of these I’ve done but holy balls is the new stadium terrible. I was there for a soccer game this summer and I swear the driving design thought must have been “how can we give as many people sunburns at once as possible?”

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Joey:

Not only are the 49ers bad, they’re terminally uninteresting. No one should ever have to watch this team. I stop giving a shit after they win their first game and avoid going winless, which really sucked two years ago when they didn’t win one until like early November. The Niners should have to play the same time slot as the University of Hawaii’s games so only hardcore fans and drunks will ever actually see this wretched team.

When the team updated their Facebook profile pic to a rainbow version of the team logo for Pride Month, our moron fanbase took it with all the grace and poise one would expect from a bunch of people who can name more women currently dating UFC fighters than they can sitting US Senators.

Our dumbass quarterback ripped his leg apart a game and a half into the year on a juke so phony and ill-advised it made Beto O’Rourke’s dog’s twitter account seem meaningful and authentic by comparison.

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Pascal:

It was the 1994 season and 11-year-old me saw American Football for the first time on German television when some TV station showed a recap of the Super Bowl between the 49ers and the Chargers. 36-year-old me curses my decision to watch that game because I’ve been a fan of that God forsaken gold and red thrash heap ever since. I imagine myself discovering the sport two years later and falling in love with the Patriots instead. Other people think about going back in time in order to save the world from Hitler, I’d go back to kick younger me in the balls so I don’t become a fan of the team which lost the Super Bowl in its best season in the last two decades to Ray Rice.

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Alex:

Bosa gave the classic non-apology apology, which was laundered through the official NFL propaganda machine, and included the following passage: “His voice, soft and low, trembled at times, and his hands clenched together on occasion. This was the last place he wanted to be, and yet it was the only place he wanted to be. He had created the controversy, and he wanted to address it. Alone.” How fucking brave.

Everyone’s favorite wide-assed sundowning twitterbot loved the pick, at least.

Travis:

Verrett is built of bubblegum and duct tape while Ahkello Witherspoon couldn’t cover a dead body with a white sheet.

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Sean:

My wife had brain surgery earlier this year. Six weeks later, our then-18-month-old had emergency surgery to remove pieces of food that he had inhaled into lung (a thing that is possible, apparently!). Three weeks after that, said child had to have the SAME surgery to get the pieces that they missed the first time around. All of this is to say that I have had more than enough anger, depression, calamity, stress, and sense of overwhelm and dread to keep my mental health ledger in the red for years to come (for the record, everyone is fine).

And yet. And yet, in another 54 days I am going to voluntarily allow my children to become absolute hellbeasts by the end of the night from watching too much TV in the other room, while the wife (also a lifelong Niners fan, unless the surgery benevolently cured her...) and I subjugate ourselves to this shitbox franchise that continues to hang its hopes on the concept that maybe time really is circular, and 1981 might come back around at any minute now.

While no one could be faulted for railing on the issues about the stadium, ranging from “being nowhere near San Francisco” to “potential flight path hazard at night”, the fanbase being worse than the neighboring Raiders, or that this team last won a Super Bowl during the Clinton administration, there’s no need to dwell on the supporting acts when the headliner of this turdfest, the roster, is sitting right there. Jimmy Garoppolo may or may not suck (who knows, he’s played in 8 games since we traded for him!), but even if he does stay on the field this offensive line will almost assuredly get him killed. Which means we either get Bobby Beathard’s corn-fed grandkid, or more likely an undrafted Charlie Whitehurst knock-off for significant portions of the season.

Even if you didn’t know that running back was the most devalued and interchangeable position in football, you’d immediately get that sense from a team that has four competing for the starting job, each of whom is shitty in his unique way. Wide Receivers? Sure we got them. One is fast and can’t catch, one is a promising second year player with unconventional (awful) footwork, and the others are...well, they’re here. George Kittle had a record breaking year, which means that when defenses double and triple him this year, they will quickly wonder why no one thought of it before. The offense will dry up quicker than a woman touched by Trump.

On defense we drafted MAGA Ndamukong Suh, and gave a decent linebacker a two-year partially guaranteed deal only to cut him three weeks later, and have him sign with our ostensible rival. Also still looking for that elusive second corner to pair with the formerly elite first corner who got beat so badly so many times last year that the ‘08 Lions felt bad for him.

Fuck, in a very particular order: Jed York (now and eternally), John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan, Robert Saleh, the remainder of the coaching staff, the city of Santa Clara, and me for continuing to give this team any of my time, energy, and money.

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Chris:

The 49ers are not a San Francisco team anymore. Santa Clara is a town far away from San Francisco that has its own merits, but the 49ers are just another guy on the peninsula who says when asked that they live in SF, then when pressed as to which neighborhood, admit Santa Clara. Santa Clara is not San Francisco.

How will the 49ers do in 2019? Since the franchise I grew up with has moved to Santa Clara, I don’t enjoy the cynical ways in which the York family ownership has been managing the team. Never forget and never forgive that this is the once-proud franchise that polled its season ticket holders as to whether or not “winning football games is important to them.” Bill Walsh never had to consider whether or not his potential audience cared about winning, and now the 49ers are a team so divorced from their previous identity in San Francisco that they disgracefully need to have 49ERS nameplates emblazoned on their jerseys just remember or prove who they used to be.

Under Jed’s Tommen-esque leadership, the 49ers have become the west coast’s version of the Cincinnati Bengals – enjoying the money from the NFL’s revenue streams and their stadium, and what happens on the field matters less to them than bottom line economics. You don’t get to pick owners, and sometimes that’s what happens. That’s of no consolation to me.

I dearly miss those 49ers who competed even when they sucked like I miss a long-passed family pet. I miss Bill Walsh. I miss Ronnie Lott. I miss Harry Sydney. I miss Guy McIntyre. I miss Harris Barton. I miss Brent Jones, who could take a hit as masterfully as Harrison Ford takes a punch. I miss the fire in the eyes of Steve Young. I miss Tom Rathman, my hero. I miss Roger Craig. I miss Jesse Sapolu. I miss Tim McDonald. I miss Merton Hanks and his joyous post-interception chicken dance. I miss Bryant Young. I even miss Junior Bryant. I miss Derrick Deese. I miss Gilroy’s-own Jeff Garcia. I miss Vernon Davis both on the field and in Madden. I miss the incandescent brilliance of Patrick Willis. I miss the determination of Frank Gore. I miss Colin Kaepernick. I miss Justin Smith and his tattoo. I miss Eric Reid and his leadership. I miss looking forward to Sundays with my father and with my friends.

That feeling is gone, those traditions and rituals are gone. I miss something that meant so much to me and now is gone.

So, for cheapening the San Francisco 49ers, were I to say anything that would reach Jed York’s ears, it would be fuck you, Jed. Fuck Jed York for cheapening something that once brought me such fierce joy. Fuck Eddie D for needing that river boat casino license so badly, fuck every NFL franchise too frightened to consider signing Colin Kaepernick to their team, fuck the offseason between 2014 and 2015, fuck Denise DeBartolo York for letting her husband and son run the franchise into the ground, fuck Bill Romanowski, fuck Joe Montana for needlessly being an ass in-person and making my friend cry, fuck Kentwan Balmer, fuck anyone who would dare stand against the raw power of Bay Area treasure Ray Ratto, fuck Ricky Watters for leaving early and fucking up the good thing that he had, fuck Santa Clara for pulling off their plan to lure in the 49ers, fuck Gavin Newsom for letting Santa Clara walk all over him to claim the 49ers and for being a chickenshit SF mayor and for fucking his mayoral campaign manager’s wife, fuck Richie Incognito and super-fuck what’s left of the Raiders for giving Incognito a contract, fuck Aldon Smith, super-fuck Bruce Miller, fuck Ray McDonald, fuck Chris Culliver for being a homophobe, fuck Garrison Hearst for being a homophobe, fuck Nick Bosa for his racist and homophobic bullshit, fuck the entire current 49er front office for selecting Nick Bosa and that includes John Lynch who has made an entire career out of being overrated, fuck Donald Trump for praising Nick Bosa, fuck everyone who said anything along the lines of “Oh, they’ll be fine without Jim Harbaugh,” fuck saying “San Fran,” fuck saying “Frisco,” fuck Lawrence Phillips, and fuck me. Fuck me particularly. Fuck me.

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Richard:

The tragedy of the 49ers shitstorm, isn’t just that it makes unwatchable football, it’s how it poisons every football adjacent thing it touches. My “football” conversations with my father have gone from discussing the roster and game highlights to, “What does he expect to accomplish by disrespecting the troops?” to, “How do we even know she’s telling the truth about domestic abuse?” I fully expect the focus of the 2019 season to involve at least one member of the defense to come out as a Holocaust denier.

Speaking of which, the 49ers had SEVEN takeaways in 2018, obliterating the previous record low of 11 (finishing with a -25 turnover differential). And yet, they started 2018 by dropping starting Safety Eric Reid for reasons that were definitely not, “Because he knelt during the anthem,” and kicked off 2019 by drafting the answer to, “What if Joey Bosa really liked the N-word?”

I can’t wait to watch an entire season of Jimmy Garapallo [sic] completely missing one of their 35 different running backs on any pass that travels more than 10 yards (But my god, the speed on that release! *wank motion*), before Nick Bosa can tweet out, “Nothing but respect for MY president” in response to some BLM activist tweeting for cops to not shoot an eight-year-old kid.

At least they managed to end the tense and prolonged holdout with *checks notes* Robbie fucking Gould?! With any luck everyone will blow their ACL in the preseason and we can just cancel this year.

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Alex:

It was 2012 and the Niners had just lost a heartbreaker to the Giants in the Super Bowl (Kyle Williams fumbled two punt returns...) and it was devastating. My friend and I decide to drown our sorrows at the nearby KFC. Ahead of us a dude decked out in red Niners gear is stumbling around with a thousand yard stare in his eyes.

A kid on a bike asks him for a cigarette and the dude just knocks him out in one punch, steals his bike, and calmly bikes down Santa Clara St.

We run to the kid and ask if he’s ok and if he wants us to call the cops. He says no and he kind of freaks out and he tells us he has “a bunch of pills hidden in his shoe” and he doesn’t want to go to jail. He says he’s cool and calmly walks home as if he nothing happened.

Fuck Jed York, bring back Tomsula

Submissions for the NFL previews are now closed. Next up: New York Jets.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.