They had it all except one thing. The San Francisco 49ers were the most complete team in the league, yet lacked a backup quarterback when it mattered most. Injuries sink another great season.
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Coming out of the conference championship games with our Super Bowl matchup, it turns out being the top seed is a good thing. Both one seeds, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, won their conference and made it to the Super Bowl. Kudos.
Maybe you want to thank having a first-round bye. Perhaps being the one seed leads to the best route throughout the playoffs. It could be as simple as the one seed is, ya know, the best team. And despite this league’s level of parity, sometimes the best teams do win. Yet we’re not completely on board with that final point, as obvious as it sounds. Hear us out. The San Francisco 49ers were the best team in the league this year, and they are not going to compete for a title.
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We don’t want to diminish the talent level of the Eagles, but we are going to diminish their accomplishments just a little bit. Philadelphia had one of the easiest strength of schedules in the entire league this regular season. It took advantage by grabbing the one seed and locking in the best record. After their playoff bye, the Eagles then encountered what had to be the easiest possible postseason track imaginable. The Giants were a faux-playoff team this year and got dismantled. Then came the Niners. Oof.
San Francisco 49ers Over Reaction
Todd Salem: 49ers Best Team In NFL
We can all agree the level of bad luck the 49ers encountered this year when it comes to the quarterback position is next level. Trey Lance and Jimmy Garappolo were lost during the regular season. Brock Purdy tore his elbow ligament during the NFC championship. Fourth-stringer Josh Johnson came in, fumbled a drive away before half, and then got removed with a concussion later in the contest. With Purdy back in but unable to throw a pass, the game was a walkover. San Francisco didn’t stand a chance.
But take a look at how the game played out. There were stupid penalties, defensive miscues, and special teams errors. It isn’t outlandish to think those guys were trying to give 110% to make up for the lack of any offensive support they were going to get. The San Fran defense, though, was the best unit on the field. Philly was gifted a number of drives and still struggled to put up points until we were on a figurative fifth-string QB for the opponent.
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With even remotely competent or simply able-armed quarterback play, the 49ers are in the Super Bowl, and I think they’d win it. Both AFC teams battled. We saw though that the Cincinnati offensive line would not be able to stand up against an elite rush. Even Kansas City took them apart. And the Chiefs go as far as Patrick Mahomes takes them. Granted, that is often farther than everyone else in the league, but this roster is not overly talented this season. It is lacking on the defensive side, cannot run the ball on offense, and doesn’t have the consistent receiving weapons either, outside of Travis Kelce.
San Francisco had pretty much everything…except a healthy quarterback. That’s just how the pieces fell this season. The Super Bowl matchup is still legitimately awesome. Either team that wins the championship is a deserving winner. After all, we have the two one-seeds facing off. I just wish we could have gotten San Francisco’s best to see how it stacked up. We spent all last week wondering how Purdy would react to the situation and the moment, and if he could hang with the big boys. That question never materialized because of injury. It’s a bummer.
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You know how ironic it is to tell a New York Jets fan that a team has pretty much everything… except a quarterback. Sing me a song on your tiny violin. But you’re right, the 49ers were great all around. Their defense was the best and the offense had tremendous playmakers. Yet the one thing that San Francisco failed to bring with them into the freaking NFC Championship was a serviceable backup quarterback. Shame.
While it’s true that the 49ers experienced worse quarterback injury luck than nearly every other team, one can easily argue that they were in the unique position to also understand how valuable it is to have an armed and ready backup available. Josh Johnson is not that man, but then he got a concussion. San Francisco had many weeks to sign another backup for the playoffs and stash him on special teams. They did not and paid the price.
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I realize hindsight is always 20/20 and the NFL has a trade deadline, but considering that San Francisco already lost two starters, they probably should have had another option besides Josh Johnson behind Brock Purdy, you know, just in case. That said, the Eagles were the best team in the NFC all season and it’s no surprise they are headed to the Super Bowl. Well deserved and well earned in my opinion. Personally, I was rooting for the 49ers versus Bengals in Super Bowl 57, but I believed Philadelphia was going to represent the NFC. Another appearance by the Chiefs is also fun, so we do have an excellent matchup nonetheless.
The real question here is, what did we learn? Defense wins championships. It was the Kansas City defense that got to Burrow and forced him to make mistakes. It was the Eagles defense that hobbled San Francisco and exposed their one weakness, no more viable backup quarterbacks. The defense also needs a superb leader at quarterback. It’s not a requirement for the QB to be great, but he must lead by example and that means making no mistakes and making some plays when it matters most. Granted, we had four pretty great quarterbacks facing off in the championship games. The two who stayed healthy enough to play and made no mistakes are the two going to the Super Bowl.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
San Francisco 49ers Photo Credits: SFChronicle.com and YardBarker.com
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