Three leaps of faith brought the 49ers to the edge of the Super Bowl berth


SANTA CLARA, California. – This project started three years ago and nobody really knew how it would go since the project was unconventional and started from scratch.

How could anyone have predicted that the 49ers would be No. 1 in the NFC and due to the dominant 27-10 playoff win against the Vikings at Levi & # 39; s Stadium, the franchise's first post-season game since 2013, to the NFC – championship game will rise? ?

After the 2014 season, when her coach Jim Harbaugh flew to Michigan, this scenario seemed as likely as no fog in the San Francisco air for the next three years.

John Lynch was initially hired as General Manager, although he had never worked or trained in an NFL front office before. Lynch, a former NFL player, went straight to the radio after his gaming career ended.

Lynch hired Kyle Shanahan as his head coach, although Shanahan was 37 years old and had never been a head coach.

These were leaps of faith that were taken over by 49ers.

This was also the third major step that changed the franchise and brought eight games (all losses) in Shanahan's first season in 2017 when Lynch somehow took the quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo off for a draft pick in the second round.

Still, taking over Garoppolo was as risky as hiring Lynch and then Shanahan because he came with him and had little to no experience – just 94 passports in three years with the patriots.

Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and John Lynch
Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo and John LynchGetty Images (2); EPA

These three steps – the hiring of Lynch, Shanahan and the trade for Garoppolo – form the basis for the 14-3 49ers. These are the moves that led the 49ers to the NFC title game against the winner of the Packers-Seahawks game on Sunday – at home next Sunday.

Left-wing tackle Joe Staley, the senior statesman on the list of 49ers, was considering retiring when Lynch and Shanahan were hired. He stopped thinking as soon as he sat down and listened to their plan.

"I was at a crossroads in my career and was wondering if I would like to do another conversion," said Staley after the win. "But being with Kyle and John when they got here and saw their vision and listened to what they believed, what kind of players they would bring in here – high quality characters who were in a bad mood on the soccer field – they do what they preach and it was exciting to see the building here. & # 39; & # 39;

The blueprint for Saturday's win for the 49ers was as certain as the blueprint Lynch and Shanahan had for building this team, as it was a positive textbook.

The main task of the 49ers in this game was to prevent the Vikings from pushing Dalvin Cook back, and to force quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​to try to beat them.

Cook was wonderfully neutralized by a swarming defense in San Francisco and landed just 18 yards away with nine runs. And cousins ​​who completed 21 out of 29 for 172 yards (much of it in garbage time) with a TD and interception were unable to improve his game or the players around him.

The Vikings had four first losses in the first half and ended the game with seven.

The 49ers ran the ball 47 times for 186 yards and broke the Vikings who only ran 10 times for 21 yards.

Garoppolo graduated 11 out of 19 for 131 yards with a TD and an INT. He got the 49ers offense started on the first trip, 5-of-6 for 56 meters and a TD pass to Kendrick Bourne. But he wasn't the star of the game. He didn't have to be, because that's how Lynch built this team so brilliantly.

"Kyle and John do such a good job of relying on the decisions they make without being disturbed by outside noise," said 49-year-old full-back Kyle Juszczyk.

"Kyle understands how he wants to build and manage things and which players match what he wants to do," said Mike McGlinchey. "[Team ownership] They saw that when they brought them in and trusted them. It's rare for head coaches and GMs to get contracts of six or seven years in the first year, but that's exactly what they did here because they believe in who they are as evaluators and coaches. Thank god they rolled the right dice. "