With just three months until the new NFL season kicks off, I asked Mike White, a reporter for BBC Radio 5 Live, what he most looks forward to this coming season:
I’m intrigued to see what impact the new 49ers leadership combo of Kyle Shanahan & John Lynch can do to a franchise that’s been sinking for too long now. 3 consecutive NFC Championship games with one, ultimately disappointing, Super Bowl appearance seems a mere blip on a 15+ year radar of underachievement.
Shanahan obviously comes with a reputation very much on the up from his sterling work in Atlanta whilst Lynch’s appointment was originally met with howls of derision in some quarters. That wasn’t helped when Niners owner Jed York explained one of the deciding factors was because of how prepared Lynch was in his previous role as a TV analyst.
However, the early signs of an organisation set to learn from the errors of its painful past are positive. The canny management in the recent Draft left many eating humble pie that maybe, just maybe, this GM lark wasn’t too big a stretch for Lynch after all.
Now don’t get me wrong, one good draft & handful of positive sound bytes isn’t a formula for the next Patriots-esque dynasty to be born. It’s pretty clear nobody should be getting their hopes up of immediately reversing a 2-14 season and provide Coach Shanahan with a second successive appearance in the February showcase.
There are still big question marks surrounding the quarterback position. Nobody is buying Brian Hoyer as the saviour but as they strive for their next franchise QB, he’ll offer a level of stability (*for ‘level of stability’, see also ‘stop gap’). Matt Barkley & CJ Beathard are mere secondary characters in a production where the next chapter is yet to be written.
Until then, Niners fans can enjoy the next three months with all the blind faith & optimism that accompanies most sports fans’ off-seasons. When September rolls around, we’ll see just how justified – or misplaced – it all was.
Mike White is a Broadcast Journalist/commentator for BBC Radio Humberside. He also covers the NFL for BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra). You can follow Mike on Twitter at @mikewhitesport.
Photograph: Mike White and 49ers legend, Joe Montana.