The San Francisco 49ers executed a quick rebuild and quickly returned to the Super Bowl. Can the San Francisco Giants follow suit?
The San Francisco 49ers were one of the worst teams in the NFL as recently as 2016 when they went 2-14, and just last year they were 4-12. Now they are in the Super Bowl. Is a similar turnaround possible for the San Francisco Giants as they embark on their own rebuild?
Giants CEO Larry Baer was in attendance at the NFC Championship Game on Sunday and was asked by a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle about the 49ers success. After praising the work of coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, he said: "Who knows? Maybe a baseball team will be turning it around just like the 49ers in a couple of years."
Is Baer being realistic? Could the Giants really turn things around in three seasons like the 49ers did?
Of course they could, with some important caveats.
The big thing that 49ers owner Jed York got right was giving Shanahan and Lynch the time and space to rebuild the team essentially from the ground up. Baer seems content to give president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris that same freedom to rebuild.
The organization and fans alike seem to understand that the Giants are going to have to stink for a few years before they can be playoff contenders again. That means there is not unfair pressure on Zaidi and Harris to field a playoff contender in 2020 or 2021, mainly because it would be nearly impossible.
The other key factor is that York seems to have found a good match in Lynch and Shanahan. Those two guys seem to trust one another.
Zaidi and new Giants manager Gabe Kapler seem to have that same mutual trust from their time together in the Dodgers organization, so we will see if their partnership reaps similar rewards.
At the end of the day, the most important thing of all is putting together the necessary talent on the field.
The 49ers were able to do that via trade, free agency, and a number of high draft picks. The Giants will have to do the same if they're to field a respectable team going forward.
The two situations are not completely analogous, but the 49ers went from 2-14 just four seasons ago to now being the best team in their conference. The Giants would do well to take notice and try to replicate some of the things that the 49ers were able to do to get back to contention.