Imagine going 13-4 with three different starting Quarterbacks. Imagine making the playoffs in the first year of a rebuild with a bunch of rookies. Welcome to your 2-7 matchup in the NFC Wild Card round. It's the Niners hosting the Seahawks featuring two very worthy Coach of the Year contenders.
We thought this 49er team was in trouble leading up to this season. The roster was LOADED, yes, but the keys to the car were given to a quarterback we believed was unready to handle the challenge. A season-ending injury to said quarterback, Trey Lance, in Week 2 dealt head coach Kyle Shanahan the first blow of a long year.
Then in walked Pretty Jimmy, a man who had said his goodbyes to the team not eight months prior. A man who did not participate in training camp. A man who was benched for the younger model. Clearly, the man for the job. Jimmy steadied the ship until a foot injury in Week 13 put him on the shelf, too.
Then Shanahan turned to Mr. Irrelevant — a rookie from Iowa State named Brock Purdy, who is as lovable as he is green. First game vs. Tom Brady? No sweat. In fact, let's rattle off a 5-0 record to secure the No. 2 seed and enter the playoffs hotter than Hades.
The 49ers were 1-2 to start the year with losses to the Bears and Broncos. They lost by two touchdowns to Marcus Mariota. To turn that around WITH all this QB trouble proves Shanahan is the top of the iceberg when it comes to NFL coaches.
Speaking of icebergs, Pete Carroll has been rocking the Touch of Grey look since 1992 and he STILL is proving folks wrong at the NFL level. The Seahawks started this year with the third worst odds to win the Super Bowl at +15000. A $100 bet on them to lift the Lombardi would net you $1,500. Aka they were projected to stink.
And why not? They had just traded away the best QB the franchise had ever seen and were planning to start rookies all over the field including at BOTH offensive tackle positions.
Lastly, there was a training camp battle to determine who would be the starting QB for the season. Twas a battle between New York Jets cast-off Geno Smith and Denver Broncos dancer Drew Lock. Mina Kimes was in shambles.
Lo and behold, Carroll got the troops ready. Geno leads the field for Comeback Player of the Year and played like a pro bowler. The rookies on the Offensive Line are being considered for All-Rookie teams as they paved the way for a Rookie of the Year candidate in running back Kenneth Walker III. Finally, rookie Tariq Woolen tied All-Pros like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Justin Simmons for the most INTs in the NFL. Remarkable.
The Seahawks snuck into the playoffs in a year they were meant to wobble for Wemby, and Pete Carroll's leadership and guidance is a huge reason why.
In my opinion, Pete Carroll nudges out Kyle Shanahan for Coach of the Year but the 49ers roll to the Divisional Round with ease.
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