The San Francisco 49ers’ season came to an end in the NFC Championship Game with Kyle Shanahan’s squad losing by the score of 31-7.
The backdrop to San Francisco’s defeat was myriad injuries the team suffered in said game. That included rookie quarterback Brock Purdy going down to an elbow injury early in the first quarter. While Purdy did retun to the game, it was only in an emergency situation when backup Josh Johnson went down to a concussion.
With all of that said, excuses are excuses. San Francisco did not come to play against the Philadelphia Eagles. It committed a ton of dumb penalties, lost the turnover battle and embarrassed itself on the way out. Meanwhile, Shanahan’s in-game coaching came into question.
Likely seen as legitimate Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2023 season, there’s still some moves the 49ers must make to overcome losses in the NFC Championship Game in consecutive seasons. Below, we look at three of them.
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Upgrade from Mike McGlinchey at right tackle
The San Francisco 49ers’ offensive line performed well this past season. However, this unit was dominated by the Philadelphia Eagles pass-rush group in the NFC Championship Game. Most of the pressure was brought from Pro Bowl edge rusher Haason Reddick with Mike McGlinchey being the weakest link.
This was the case throughout the 2022 season. According to Pro Football Focus, McGlinchey graded out as the 55th-best pass-protecting offensive tackle in the NFL. There’s 64 regular starters in the league. You can do the math from there.
Instead of overpaying to retain McGlinchey in free agency, San Francisco should look for an upgrade. Isaiah Wynn of the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars veteran Jawaan Taylor come to mind as realistic options.
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San Francisco 49ers must add another pass-catching tight end
Too often over the course of the past few seasons, San Francisco has had to rely on Kittle to block. That’s primarily due to pass-protecting issues from the right side and interior of the offensive line.
Once Brock Purdy took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, things changed in this regard. Even then, the 49ers don’t have a true pass-catching option behind Kittle on the depth chart.
General manager John Lynch and Co. should address this in free agency. Veterans such as Austin Hooper, Hayden Hurts and O.J. Howard make sense.
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Sign Tom Brady, trade Trey Lance
You didn’t think we’d conclude this article without focusing on the all-important quarterback position. Jimmy Garoppolo has played his final game in a 49ers uniform. Brock Purdy put up an historical start to his career, making a believer among San Francisco’s brass despite the injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game.
Remember, the 2022 season opened with Trey Lance as QB1. He was injured early in Week 2 and replaced by Garoppolo under center. As of right now, it’s believed that Purdy has already earned the starting gig for 2023.
This brings us to our overriding point. San Francisco needs to see what type of trade market Lance would have. It is not getting anything near what the team paid to trade up for the young quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. But he should have a market.
In turn, San Francisco finally brings in Tom Brady to close out his career. Hear us out. Brady returning to his native North California has always been a goal of the seven-time Super Bowl champion. The idea would be for Brady to play one season for a championship contender with Purdy backing him up. The young quarterback would then take over as the starter in 2024. If Brady struggles in his age-46 season, Purdy would also be able to step in.