The 49ers Season Recap and Where the Team Goes From Here


“49ers” by renaissancechambara is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A Slow Start

Coming off of a deep playoff run that saw the 49ers reach the NFC Championship, expectations were high entering the new season. Trey Lance had been moved into the starting quarterback role, and 49ers fans were excited to see the youngster in the position for the season’s first game. However, the game would be a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears. After Trey Lance went down with a season-ending injury in week 2, Jimmy Garapollo would be moved back into the starting role but the slow start would continue as the team sat just three and four after week seven. 

Injuries take their Toll

A season mired in injuries to the team’s starting quarterbacks gave many Niners fans a sense of hopelessness despite the immense talent on the roster. Rookie standout and the Niners’ starting running back going into the season, Elijah Mitchell, also suffered an injury in the first game of the season. Add to that a season-ending injury to Trey Lance in week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks and it seemed to some fans that it would be another season of unrealized wins with an extremely talented roster.

The defense did not suffer as much from injuries during the season as core pieces such as linebacker Fred Warner and the year’s defensive player of the season Nick Bosa stayed healthy over the course of the season. Much of the 49ers’ success over the course of the season can be attributed to their defense. Defensive Coordinator Demeco Ryans led the defense over the course of the season as it ranked first in points allowed (giving up the least) and allowed only the second-most offensive yards over the course of the season out of any team. 

Mr. Irrelevant Shines

When Jimmy Garapollo went down with a broken foot in the Niners’ week 13 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, nobody expected much from the backup Brock Purdy. Being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, even making the team’s starting roster was an achievement in its own right. However, doubters were quickly silenced once Purdy took the field to replace the injured Garapollo. In only his second time on the field that season, Purdy would go 25 for 37 with two touchdown passes and one interception. Many fans could see the talent of the young rookie. 

Following Purdy’s debut, he continued to prove scouts wrong, and finished the season on a perfect streak. Heading into the playoffs, the 49ers were fresh off a ten-game winning streak that saw the team finish the season with the second seed in the NFC. Going into the playoffs, many fans had doubts about whether or not Purdy could handle the pressure of the playoffs in his first season. In his first ever playoff game in the NFL, Purdy would throw for 18 completions on thirty attempts as well as have three touchdowns with no interceptions and lead the team to a 41 to 23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Despite only throwing for 214 yards and no touchdowns in their next playoff matchup against the Cowboys, the 49ers were still able to come away with the win and advance to the next round of the playoffs where they would face off against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Quarterback health had been a recurring issue with the team all season. It was only ironic that in the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles both Purdy and the backup, Josh Johnson went down with a UCL tear and a concussion. With one-half of a season-defining game left, the 49ers had no dedicated quarterbacks in playing condition. The season was over almost as soon as Purdy went down.  

Where Do We Go Now?

The beginning of the offseason has seen the 49ers’ coaching staff gutted once again. Former defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans left the team in order to take the head coaching position for the Houston Texans. Steve Wilks has been hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator. However, this is the second season in a row that the 49ers’ defensive coordinator has left the team to seek a head coaching job at another organization. Mo Saleh and Mike McDaniels, the team’s defensive and offensive coordinators left prior to the 2022 season respectively. 

The team will hire new coaches who are fully capable of leading the team to success as they always do. Now the team’s main focus is on Brock Purdy’s return from an elbow injury and the 2023 NFL Draft where the team holds 3 third-round picks, 4 fifth-round picks, a sixth-round pick, and 4 seventh-round picks. The team needs to fill holes in the offensive line left by free agency. With starters Mike McGlinchey and Daniel Brunskill leaving, depth at these positions would certainly help. Despite holding such late picks, the front office has shown the ability to discover talent in the later rounds such as last year when the team drafted Brock Purdy with the last pick in the draft.