By Sam McPherson
The San Francisco 49ers are just 3-7 this year as they prepare to host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. It’s been a disappointing season for the team, of course, as star players have been injured, traded and/or benched. Needless to say, the 49ers are headed toward their worst season in a decade.READ MORE: Vehicle Crashes Into Heritage Oaks Hospital In Sacramento
However, that doesn’t mean the organization and its fans should hang their heads low. Instead, the 49ers and their Faithful should be proud of the franchise for many reasons. As we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, here are five things San Francisco should be thankful for this holiday.
The 49ers opened their new, state-of-the-art football park in the middle of Silicon Valley in 2014, and Levi’s Stadium hasn’t disappointed. It’s shiny, clean and new (still) and the fans are coming in droves to watch the team play home games. Despite a mere 7-6 record in the facility, the 49ers have one of the best stadiums in the NFL.
Super Bowl 50 will be played at Levi’s Stadium in February 2016, giving the 49ers and their fans the unique opportunity of showing off the stadium and the surrounding area for an international audience. Considering how few stadiums get to host such an event, it’s going to be a real treat to experience; even if the 49ers aren’t playing in the game.
Remember the gruesome injury he suffered in the 2013 NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks on the road? Bowman missed all of 2014 recovering from that injury, but he’s been a defensive stalwart for the 49ers in 2015. He is currently second in the NFL in tackles with 97 this year.
Without Bowman, the San Francisco defense would be in shambles. So many of the great players that made this defense one of the league’s best from 2011-13 are gone, retired or injured. Bowman stands alone as the last link to those great 49ers teams that made three straight appearances in the NFC Championship Game.READ MORE: Energy Prices Are Causing Chaos In Asia. Here's Why The Rest Of The World Should Worry
Youthful Team Building Blocks
The 49ers aren’t a good team currently, but they have several building blocks on both offense and defense that will help the team recover in the near future. Running back Carlos Hyde, tight end Vance McDonald and wide receiver Torrey Smith are all young and capable players on the offense, for example.
Defensively, linebackers Aaron Lynch and Michael Wilhoite support Bowman well, and safety Eric Reid is one the league’s best young defenders. Toss in punter Bradley Pinion, and the 49ers have a solid, young foundation to rebuild around in seasons to come. The S.F. organization will need to augment this foundation, of course, but it’s not a bad place to start from all things considered.
His season-ending surgery this week likely brought his 49ers career to an early end. Even though Kaepernick struggled to win games without an elite defense behind him in 2014-15, he still was amazing to watch on the field when he played. You never knew when he was going to uncork a beautiful deep pass or scramble for a 40-yard touchdown run.
Kaepernick failed to join Joe Montana and Steve Young in the pantheon of elite 49ers’ QBs, but he certainly gave the team and its fans many memories to cherish and remember. Who can forget the playoff win over Green Bay in 2012? Even though Kaep only managed a 1-6 record against the hated Seahawks, he still will be remembered in San Francisco for a long time to come.
A Storied Past
The 49ers haven’t won the Super Bowl since the 1994 season, and the 2012 team’s Super Bowl loss is the only time the team has made it back to the big game in the years since. However, it’s better to have that glorious past than to not have it at all.MORE NEWS: WHO Says Monkeypox Is Not An International Public Health Emergency, But It Should Continue To Be Monitored
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.