So close, yet so far. the season can’t get started soon enough, but the scheduling Gods gave us a toughie as the 49ers face the NFC Championship game losing Minnesota Vikings on the road. This is the same Vikings team that stole their previous playoff game with an improbable 60 yard TD with time expiring on the clock to beat the Saints. They were so thrilled about the state of things at QB that they let Sam Bradford go, declined Teddy Bridgewater’s 5th year option, and let playoff hero Case Keenum walk to Denver so they could throw a 3 year/$84 million deal to our once and future savior, Kirk Cousins.
The NFL makes strange bedfellows, and we were gifted (maybe) our own savior in Jimmy Garoppolo in a mid-season trade while Shanny’s choice to lead us out of the wilderness is now a Vike. Certainly a storyline that will be followed by many around the league. Cousins certainly has a much better team around him, what with that defense, but we have added some weapons ourselves. Sure, we lost Jarick McKinnon, but we lost something we haven’t had, so there isn’t anything to really miss. He would be great as a pass catcher out of the backfield, but hopefully they’ve been working with Matt Brieda to pick up some of that work.
For this team, it is all about the pass rush. Our defense will go as far as Salomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner can put pressure on the opposing QBs in the base defense. They’ve shown glimpses here and there this preseason, but Thomas looks worlds better than he did last year, and a healthy AA is imperative.
The defensive secondary has improved by a lot on paper, but we will see what happen on the field from the get-go. They face Cousins, Stafford, Mahomes, Rivers, Bradford (or Rosen), Rodgers, and Goff to start the season. Quite the who’s who of NFL QBs.
Two teams get an early kickoff to the season tomorrow as the 2017 divisional playoff game is revisited by the Atlanta Falcons and the Super Bowl Champion Philly Eagles. Should be a fun one. Foles gets the start while Wentz gets fully healthy. Atl will once again ride Matty Ice into the season.