Ratto: A season that faded the longer it lasted


Some time around mid-July, San Francisco 49er fans will be excited about the team they follow again, mostly because it will represent a dramatic change from the way this season ended –– with a series of wet thuds concluding in a pyrospectacular of meh.

They were 6-10, with a 26-23 loss to Seattle that revealed nothing to conclude a lost season. Then principal narrative was injury, which tends to stop conversation in its tracks before it has time to leave any. The great takeaway is that their second string is half as good as an elite team's first string, and since there is no metric that can prove this one way or another. Because there is no law of averages to establish that 2021 will be significantly healthier, let alone imagining a 2021 that could be worse than this, you're stuck realizing that this was a 6-10 year with no context other than that.

If you find that to be frustrating, it is only in keeping with the season itself. There was never a real point of catharsis although some wanted to point to the Miami game, a 43-16 beatdown that should have told us that the season was finished. The problem with that narrative is that the 49ers won their next two games, thus revivifyng hope that was killed immediately thereafter by successive losses to the top three seeds in the NFC, the Seahawks (3), Packers(1) and Saints (2). There was simply no momentum to be derived anywhere, not even the Trade Jimmy Garoppolo movement which died on the vine when the realistic chances of replacing him with someone better never materialized.

In short, this was a season that will be swiftly forgotten not because it was terrible, but because it was persistently mediocre and lacked a consistent villain, unless you think there is some lasting value in impotently shaking your fist at the Santa Clara County medical and political structures. Even the Falcons, Lions and Jets got to fire their coach, the Panthers and Jaguars their general manager, and the Texans both with one chop. For 49er fans, there was simply no there there –– kind of like the entire year.

So maybe that's the lesson here. The 49ers saw 2020 for what it was, something to get past as quickly as possible. If it seemed like it lasted forever for them, it's because it lasted forever for everyone else, too. They were the year and the year was them. Not much of a metaphor, we know, but it wasn't much of a year now, was it?