When the San Francisco 49ers take the field on Sunday, they will appear in their third NFC championship game in the last four seasons. That’s not by accident, as the franchise has constructed a sustainable blueprint that allows them to contend year in and year out.
They haven’t (yet) won any Super Bowls during this run of excellence, but their slightly unorthodox methodology has allowed them to remain relevant year in and year out.
We’ll take a closer look at why the 49ers can be considered the league’s model franchise.
Building Around The Quarterback
The vast majority of teams in the NFL start by looking at who is under center for them, and assessing whether they’re the right player to lead the team to a championship. The 49ers do this as well, but they’re also cognizant of bringing players in at other positions who can make a difference. San Francisco realizes the important of putting together a well-rounded, talented group throughout the roster, rather than putting all of the onus on the quarterback.
A quick scan of the players on the current team reveals a trove of elite-level players, and none of them play quarterback. Christian McCaffery, George Kittle, Trent Williams, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Talanoa Hufanga all make a huge difference at their respective positions, and this consistently puts the 49ers in a spot to come away with victories.
Leadership On The Same Page
As the NFL playoffs continue to progress, other league news centers around teams bringing in new leadership, whether that’s at the front office level or at head coach. Their goal is to establish a winning formula, and a camaraderie between those two leaders that the 49ers have struck gold with in their organization.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have done a remarkable job bringing talent into San Francisco, and putting those players in an optimal situation to succeed. It feels like their partnership is as coordinated and harmonious as any tandem in the NFL, and it shows when looking at the total body of work they’ve put together.
When teams have success, competitors circle their personnel like vultures, looking to pluck their success secrets and bring them to their own franchises. The 49ers have lost a lot of talented coaches over the years, as former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is now the head coach of the New York Jets, and former offensive assistant Mike McDaniel is the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. A whole host of others have been hired away as well, and current defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans appears in line to be next on that list.
Despite that institutional knowledge departing for promotions elsewhere in the NFL, the 49ers never seem to skip a beat. Other coaches on the staff pick up where the other teachers of the game left off, and the acumen involved in cultivating a gameplan seems to remain at a level higher than most of San Francisco’s opponents. It’s a testament to the way Shanahan runs his staff.