For both the San Francisco 49ers and Giants, the past season did not come close to meeting the expectations of the team or the fans.
The Giants narrowly missed the playoffs as a result of critical injuries and a few regrettable games, but the prowess of their infield and promising off-season acquisitions look to be enough to put them in championship contention in the 2015-16 season.
Meanwhile, south in Santa Clara, the 49ers are in total disrepair. After suffering a heartbreaking off-season in 2015, the 49ers will need General Manager Trent Baalke to overlook the scorn of fans and hit a homerun in free agency and draft acquisitions.
Let’s start with the Giants. Throughout the 2014-15 season, any starting pitcher not named Madison Bumgarner caused fans to worry.
Obviously, the biggest issue the Giants needed to address coming into the off-season was their starting rotation. Needless to say, the team got busy in a hurry. After missing out on ace Zack Greinke, the Giants signed Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija and Dominican ace Johnny Cueto to a five-year $90 million deal and six-year $130 million deal, respectively.
After addressing their rotation, the Giants quickly turned to the other hole on their roster: the outfield. With the health of center fielder Angel Pagan fluctuating throughout much of last season, the Giants took a chance on signing veteran outfielder Denard Span to a three-year $31 million deal.
Meanwhile, though the 49ers addressed their need for coaching with the hiring of Chip Kelly, the team is far from complete. The most glaring problem the 49ers have is their offense, or lack thereof.
At the end of the season, it seemed pretty obvious that Blaine Gabbert is still, as we already knew, not a franchise quarterback and Colin Kaepernick had almost certainly suited up for the last time as a 49er. However, with Chip Kelly taking the reins, both Kaepernick and Gabbert seem to be viable quarterbacks considering Kelly’s spread offense system. I expect that the 49ers will retain both quarterbacks and let Kelly decide the starter.
Given that the need for a quarterback has been “addressed,” I expect the 49ers to snag either an elite wide receiver in Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell or a big offensive tackle in Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley with their first-round pick.
While the 49ers will not be able to fix their quarterback issue in free agency, they can certainly address their needs on the offensive line and pass rush with their nearly $50 million of cap space. The 49ers are no longer the Super Bowl-contending team that they were three years ago. Don’t expect next season to be much prettier than the last.
The Giants on the other hand are in an even year and look poised to go for it all.
I know which team you will be watching.