The 49ers entered the 2020 season with revenge in their hearts. Things haven't gone as planned.
Multiple injuries and underwhelming play have derailed what was expected to be a return to the Super Bowl and a coronation for Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo, as the 49ers enter Week 6 at 2-3 after getting embarrassed by the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.
The 49ers sit in last place in the NFC West and face an uphill climb to get back into the playoff picture. It's a climb 49ers legend Steve Young believes they can make, but it will have to be a different story than in 2019 when the defense carried the day.
"If we're going to do this, if we're going to go back to the Super Bowl, it's going to be because the offense and Jimmy are going to be able to match up with everyone in our division, and all the big teams that are coming in the next seven, eight weeks, that we're going to be able to score five touchdowns, minimum," Young told KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show,
"Five touchdowns, and that's how we're going to do it. And we're going to stay in ball games, and the defense will get better and better as we get kind of used to doing it a little bit differently. And that's how we're going to do it."
The 49ers now face a murderer's row over the next seven games when they will play the Los Angeles Rams (twice), New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills. Those teams enter Week 6 with a combined record of 22-7.
If Shanahan and Garoppolo are going to turn their season around it will have to be the offense will have shoulder a heavy burden. With injuries to Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kwon Alexander, the 49ers' defense is a shell of the dominant unit from a season ago.
"But if we're not going to score five touchdowns," Young said, "and we're not going to score four or three, then we've got a problem because the rest of the games are teams where you're going to need to be in the 30s, generally.
"Where do we go from here? Jimmy needs to get healthy, and he needs to get this team running the ball and shortening games, so it's nine possessions, or not worrying about that and being able to throw his way to five, six touchdowns."
Garoppolo returned from a high ankle sprain in Week 5 against the Dolphins but was ineffective, going seven for 17 for 77 yards and two interceptions before being benched at halftime.
Shanahan said he would not hesitate to bench Garoppolo on Sunday against the Rams if the quarterback once again struggles to get the offense on schedule.
The 49ers have to find answers fast with their season circling the drain. That burden will fall on Garoppolo. If he can't rally the troops the 49ers' season will end in disappointment and could mark the end of Garoppolo's tenure in the Bay.