There was one problem, though: They didn’t have their franchise quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo‘s torn ACL essentially torpedoed San Francisco’s 2018 campaign, resulting in a 4-12 finish (with a few exciting C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens moments sprinkled in). It was disheartening, sure, but also secured the 49ers the No. 2 pick of the 2019 draft.
They spent it on Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who went on to serve as a game-changing force for the 49ers, recording nine sacks, 47 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception and earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie. Maybe that struggle-filled 2018 season wasn’t so bad after all.
“Things have a way of working out,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “I always told myself it was a blessing in disguise, the ACL.
“We got (Nick) Bosa out of it. That’s a pretty good trade-off, I guess. But yeah, things have a way of working out I guess. This ride is crazy.”
Bosa was one of the final pieces (rookie receiver Deebo Samuel being another) to the San Francisco turnaround masterpiece orchestrated by general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Instead of staring at double-digit losses, the Niners celebrated double-digit victories, an NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs in 2019.
“It definitely helped,” Shanahan said. “I mean, everything happens for a reason, and you need to get good players in, some difference-makers, and Bosa has definitely been a difference-maker. I’m very glad we have him. I don’t wish 4-12 on anybody, but after going through it, it’s nice what it brought us.”
Now they’re hoping those same contributors can team up to earn the franchise its first Super Bowl berth since the days of Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick.