When Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in September of 2018, it scuttled the season for the 49ers. But it also made them stronger in 2019 and helped bring them to within a game of Super Bowl LIV. That’s because by winning just four games they were able to secure the second overall pick in the draft in April and selected defensive end Nick Bosa.
"Things have a way of working out," Garoppolo said this week. "I always told myself it was a blessing in disguise, the ACL. We got Bosa out of it. That's a pretty good trade-off, I guess. But yeah, things have a way of working out I guess. This ride is crazy.”
Which brings us to the Giants, who, like the 49ers of a year ago, won four games in this most recent season. And like those 49ers, their demise was in some regard due to injuries to young offensive stars (Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones both missed time with high ankle sprains). The four-win Giants will have the fourth selection in the upcoming draft, the third year in a row they’ll have a top-6 pick.
A year from now, could they be where the 49ers are?
It’s not impossible. In fact, the league is trending toward such a turnaround becoming a norm. Since 1990, there have been just five teams to win four games or fewer and reach the conference title round the following year, but two of those five have happened in the last three years. These 49ers, and the Jaguars in 2017.
It takes a lot to make that kind of a jump, certainly more than a single high draft pick. There needs to be shrewd decision-making, strong coaching, and other smart draft picks along the way to make it work. But it is possible. Just look at the 49ers.
They basically traded a year of Garoppolo’s on-field development for Bosa, who will be the defensive rookie of the year and could be an important piece in their run toward a Super Bowl trophy.
“It's definitely helped,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of adding Bosa. “Everything happens for a reason, and you need to get good players in, some difference-makers, and Bosa has definitely been a difference-maker. I'm very glad we have him.
“I don't wish 4-12 on anybody,” Shanahan added, “but after going through it, it was nice what it brought us.”
What will 4-12 bring the Giants in 2020?
Check back a year from now.