Why Bill Barnwell sees 49ers as playoff contenders in 2021 NFL season

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Jessica Kleinschmidt
·2 min read
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Why Barnwell sees 49ers as playoff contenders in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers’ season has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for next year’s predictions, right? Right.

San Francisco earned some love from ESPN when Bill Barnwell mentioned them as one of the 14 teams who will make it to the playoffs next season.

That is, of course, is if defensive end Nick Bosa is healthy.

"As good as Saleh has been over the last two years, every team in the league would prefer 16 games of pass-rusher Nick Bosa to a full season from a defensive coordinator," Barnwell wrote in his article. "The 49ers should look more like their 2019 selves in 2021, and that should get them back atop the NFC West."

We all remember how the 49ers' 2019 season went.

Bosa is on an ideal timeline to return to play next season after missing most of the 2020 season due to a torn ACL he sustained in Week 2. 

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Barnwell, along with Bosa's teammates, is looking forward to seeing what the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year can do when he’s fully healthy. He could be a game-changer. 

Despite losing Saleh, who accepted a head coaching position with the New York Jets, Bosa can hold his own.

The question of quarterback came up as well. Naturally, we’re not sure what the 49ers plan on doing when it comes to Jimmy Garoppolo, but Barnwell made a good point: No matter who the 49ers have in the pocket, it couldn’t be as bad as what we saw at QB in 2020.

RELATED: Could Stafford be 49ers' best option for Jimmy G upgrade?

The rumors and speculations are swirling around finding a potential upgrade from Jimmy G, who started just three games in 2020. Two different high ankle sprains kept him sidelined while the 49ers went 6-10. Still, the team wins a lot more with him on the field, so this isn’t reflected solely on him as a quarterback.

It’ll be interesting to see what the 49ers do at the position, but at the moment it appears they’re comfortable with Jimmy G.