San Francisco 49ers: Is hope on the horizon?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The once proud franchise of the San Francisco 49ers went from the team to beat in the NFL to approaching Cleveland Browns territory. The NFL is a league of ups and downs but it all happened so fast as soon as the team fired Jim Harbaugh as head coach. Then there was the Colin Kaepernick debacle and two seasons of football Niner fans would like to forget.

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But fans might be able to wear their 49er gear out in public soon. How quick can a franchise turn around with the right player? Ask Jimmy Garoppolo. Being traded from the championship New England Patriots to a team struggling to win football games had to be a bit discouraging but Jimmy G. took it in stride. The 49ers would go on to win their last 5 games of the season when the quarterback switch was made so the team might have something to build around.

The team wasn’t as bad as their record shows, but struggled to find leadership. Players were getting arrested regularly, retiring early possibly from frustration with the team, and struggling to find their purpose on the field. That’s were Garoppolo came in. One of the biggest assets he could’ve brought over from the New England Patriots wasn’t his talent but the winning culture he learned in the Patriots organization. If anyone could learn from the Patriots it was the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn’t a lack of talent that derailed the team, it was the lack of leadership and direction.

Now with a renewed sense of purpose, the team can go into free agency with a little steam in their engine and chug forward. San Fran has a long historic history and with renewed energy it might be easier to pull top-level talent back to the organization. First they need to start with a long-term deal for Garoppolo. Having a quarterback in place before the draft puts a stamp on their offseason and gives them the most wiggle room. With a deep quarterback class in this year’s draft, the team can focus on getting their position needs first and draft a quarterback to develop in later rounds.

If the 49ers can strike gold in the early round of this year’s NFL Draft after a strong free agency they might be a tough team to beat next season. Winning six of their last seven games shows a bright spot in a dark season. Now they’ll need to continue to take the same risk as the Garoppolo move. Finding a quarterback was a no-brainer, but how many New England backups have gone on to flop with other teams. Free agency holds a lot of talent this offseason and the San Francisco 49ers would benefit the most from swooping it up.

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