On a New Year’s Day filled with college football, the San Francisco 49ers closed out the 2017 season, cleaning out their lockers and heading to the offseason. Before they went, the team met and announced its 2017 team award winners.
And now, they part way for a few months; well, some of them.
Many of the players will take some time off and then get back into training. C.J. Beathard will join tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Trent Taylor for training in Nashville: “I can’t get away from them,” Beathard said with a smile.
DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead will work with a trainer in San Francisco, and Jimmy Garoppolo will most likely continue his tradition of training in Southern California.
For Garoppolo, a free January is a new thing, as there is always postseason football in New England.
“This is the earliest I’ve been one in my NFL career,” said Garoppolo. “Hopefully we don’t get used to this feeling. Hopefully it will change next year.”
Looks Like They Found It. The Offense Connection.
From the looks of the last five games, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan’s offense are a match made in heaven. So much so, that even though Garoppolo did wear the wristband full of plays in each of his games, he totally had this.
“Fun fact for you guys, we never used the wristband,” said Garoppolo.
So just what is it about this offense that works so well for Tom Brady’s former backup?
“It’s a little bit of everything, honestly,” said Garoppolo. “It’s not just a spread offense or a run heavy offense. We mix in just about everything that you could, and it keeps the defense on their toes, keeps them guessing. I really like that.”
In terms of a long term deal, Garoppolo said he likes where he’s at and he’s set to speak to his agent, Don Yee, in the next couple days.
The Center of Everything
Center Daniel Kilgore is set to be a free agent. He has spent his career thus far with the 49ers. He was awarded this season’s Bobb McKittrick Award, voted on by the offensive line.
Left tackle Joe Staley had high praise for his teammate.
“He’s someone all the guys in the room trust,” said Staley. “No one’s ever second guessing whatever he has to say. He gets everyone lined up. He’s kind of the captain of the O-line there in the middle, kind of sets the table for everybody as far as protections and the run game…I pride myself on being knowledgeable and a hard-working guy, but [Kilgore] outworks me. He’s always studying…All the work he’s put in, hopefully, they’re able to see that and keep him here.”
Kilgore’s quarterback would definitely be happy if the center returned in 2018.
“I think that’s a special relationship between center and quarterback,” said Garoppolo. “You spend so much time together. Me and him, we got on the same page, I mean, almost instantly when I got here, helping me with the run game and all that stuff. I think we complement each other very well, so hopefully, we’ll work something out.”
The Coach and His Locker Room
“When I first came in, they didn’t have any wins, but it was still a very tight knit group,” said Garoppolo. “…To have that is rare, especially…bad things happen, people want to start pointing the finger, but there was not of that in here. Everyone had each other’s back, looking out for a each other, and it made for a good group.”
And that is very much a tribute to head coach Kyle Shanahan and his team’s belief in him.
“He was able to build a locker room that was 2-14 the previous year, and going through an 0-9 start,” Staley said. “[He] still had us believing. You saw that through the second half of the season, when the locker room comes together and really believes in their head coach and what we’re doing here, what we can do. That’s why this year was so special. 6-10 at the end of the season, but I don’t think there’s in the team in the NFL that would want to see us in the playoffs.”
Hottest team in football.
Much has been made of the success of the 49ers’ rookies, many of whom had to step in before they were ready, and all of whom have made an impact.
“I feel like we all played well; we came together and contributed equally on offense and defense,” said free safety and Thomas Herrion Memorial Award winner, Adrian Colbert. “When we first came in, we automatically clicked pretty well.”
Staley has been in the NFL a long time, and he admits this class of rookies is special.
“In my 11 years, I haven’t see a draft class like this,” the left tackle said. “…Just a bunch of hard working guys. They didn’t come in with any entitlement from college of what they did previously that, unfortunately, we kind of see a lot…These guys have just come in an really bought in and worked really hard. I like to use Adrian Colbert as a prime example of…the draft class as a whole. A guy that was drafted seventh round…Came in every single day. First guy in, last guy out…His opportunity came to play and he really stepped up and took advantage of it. The whole entire draft class is filled with guys like that. Guys who really love football, love working. It’s just really exciting to see that base being built here with guys like that.”
Jaquiski Tartt described Colbert’s play as “possessed, while DeForest Buckner credits much of the defense’s improvement to Colbert and other rookies.
“The whole defense started to gel a lot better, especially stopping the run,” said Buckner. “We had a lot of injuries on the way, and we had young guys like AC stepping up, playing at a high level…It’s just exciting to go into the next year knowing that we got something going.”
It wasn’t always easy, but that’s what made the end of the season so much sweeter.
“I think the best thing about adversity, it shows the true colors of a person,” said Kittle. “Going 0-9, it’s hard. Some players or some guys, they want to quit or point fingers…There wasn’t a single guy on the team that I think did that. It was really fun to see. I think it just kind of brought us together and made all the victories towards the end of the season so much better.”
Colbert was picked late in the draft, so he knew he was going to have to work harder to make it.
“It’s a process,” said Colbert. “You’re not just going to come into the NFL and start. You’ve got to go through it. Theirs trials and tribulations you have to go through throughout the season, especially coming in that late…Seventh round, 229th pick. You’re not just going to be given anything. You’ve got to work for it…You’ve got to stay ready.”
And ready he was, as Colbert looks like he’ll be a star for this defense for a long time.
So there you have it. One season ends and another one begins in just a few short months. On to 2018! Go Niners!Don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly podcast and YouTube channel. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @49ersfangirl. Go Niners!