It was hard not to wonder when Team 49, a team so close to winning a championship in two of the past three seasons, would be having their own party across town (or maybe through an industrial park in Santa Clara, I wonder).
The nature of the NBA and basketball in general affords more opportunities for continued success, so setting the standard for 49ers in a Warriors-type dynasty with four titles in eight seasons would likely be unrealistic. Given that the team that dominated the ’80s and early ’90s hasn’t lifted the Lombardy Trophy since 1994, it’s probably wise to start with one and cross the Dynasty Bridge if/when they get close to it.
While a Golden State run this season was mostly unlikely, they entered the year in pieces to run. San Francisco in 2022 finds itself in a similar place.
The 49ers have the chops, but a run to the championship is unlikely as they make their first quarterbacks – the most important position on the field.
Perhaps Trey Lance’s talent is so overwhelming that he offers an instant upgrade over veteran Jimmy Garoppolo and San Francisco is making the leap they were hoping to make for Lance when they traded three first-round picks to get him in the 2021 draft. The Warriors overcame their mostly absent young players. about shift. The 49ers won’t get that luxury. Kominga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman were mostly spectators at the biggest moments of the year. The spear will be front and center.
The good news for San Francisco is that they are close. In 2019, they were 10 minutes away from the red and gold confetti at Market St. (Or the unspecified South Bay Industrial Park). Last year, they were intercepted away from making the trip back to the Super Bowl.
This is where the bad news comes in. Winning trophies is difficult in any sport. It can be even more difficult in the NFL where the margins for error are very slim. They’re so skinny that the 49ers are going from a quarterback who has brought them so close to the top of the NFL mountain. They made a decision that Garoppolo was ultimately stopping them from getting to the top of the game. It’s a fine line between good and great, and the 49ers are doing everything they can to cross it.
More progress in the right direction is needed than just Lance being good. Health factor. Ongoing All-Pro and Pro Bowl performances from its top players will play a role. They have three positions initially on the offensive line and two in the secondary that must be filled. There are certainly hurdles to clear, but they are close.
The 49ers’ approach to the tournament makes it hard not to imagine Fred Warner in place of Gary Payton II shooting into a crowd of red-and-gold-clad fans as the confetti gunner welcomes there by bus with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle brawling rather than one with Draymond Green and Juan Toscano Anderson.
Until they cross that fine threshold separating the good from the wonderful, this show is only in the imagination. They’re pretty close, but that last push to the top of the mountain is the toughest, and no current team in the NFL knows that better than the 49ers.