Nobody can refute the fact that any professional team needs their front line players to win. Injuries are part of the game, especially in football. However, the degree of decimation by injuries to the Niner team is simply astounding and is the main reason for their 5-9 season. When 50% of starters are injured, the “next man up” mentality can go only so far. Just ask the GS Warriors. They made it to the NBA Finals in 2018 mostly without Kevin Durant who suffered a lower leg injury during the latter part of their season. In the Finals, KD came back in game 5 and immediately drained 3 3’s, then the unimaginable happened as he ruptured his Achilles. Later in that same game, Klay tore his ACL. Finals over !!! In the following season, KD decided to sign with the Nets while Klay rehabbed his ACL. Early in the 2019 season, Steph broke his wrist and played only 5 games. In a COVID shortened season, the Dubs went 15-50 (without KD, Klay and Steph) and did not qualify for the Playoffs after reaching the Finals in 5 consecutive years winning 3 Titles. This year’s Niner season is eerily similar to the 2019 Dubs season.
The Dubs suffered another devastating injury this year before this season even starts when Klay ruptured his Achilles while practicing. Out for two years in a row is so sad for Klay on an individual level as basketball has been and will always be his entire life. His dedication to the sport has made him the best 2-way player in the NBA. He will be missed by all Dubs fans but more importantly by his team. The Dubs did not dwell on his loss and re-tooled immediately. With their lost 2019 season, they were able to draft #2 overall and got their BIG man, James Wiseman. They also did a remarkable job by trading for Kelly Oubre and acquiring Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore. They had to go well over the salary cap and pay a premium in luxury taxes but the Dubs have a winning culture which takes priority over money. While they will not be as good if Klay were healthy, they will still be a very good team and will be back to prominence next year when Klay returns. The team chemistry will gel during this year and the Dubs will again be the team to beat the following year when Klay returns.
As disappointing as this year has been for the Niners and Niner fans, they still have one of the best rosters in the NFL. They will be a force again next year. Similar to Bob Myers and Steve Kerr, Niner fans must remain faithful and trust John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. Whether they stick with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB next year, one thing is certain. They must upgrade their backup QB’s. The Niners have a 22-8 record when Jimmy G starts and a losing 5-24 record when Mullens or Beathard starts. They are currently in the #12 draft position and can upgrade their QB, CB and Interior OL positions going into the 2021 season whether it be by the draft or by acquisitions. The Niners too have a salary cap challenge but if they can deal with it as well as Bob Myers and Steve Kerr, watch out as they will be on top of the NFC again.