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Five years later, the San Francisco 49ers are back in the big time

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The NFC West has had one team consistently contending, meanwhile all three of the other teams have to been to the NFC Championship Game in the past decade as well.

The San Francisco 49ers are back after five consecutive seasons at or below .500.

It was not overnight and there were four head coaches in that timeframe, the end of the Harbaugh era, a year of Jim Tomsula and Brian Kelly, with Kyle Shanahan the last three seasons.

That’s been a key, they sucked and turned things over quick, but they gave Shanahan the time to see through his vision.

How did it get built?

QB - Jimmy Garoppolo (2014 2nd round pick Patriots, traded during 2017 season for 2nd round pick, signed 5-year $137.5 million contract in 2018 offseason).

RB - Raheem Mostert (2015 UDFA Eagles, signed late 2016 to 49ers PS, signed 3-year extension in 2019) Matt Breida (2017 UDFA), Tevin Coleman (2015 3rd round pick Falcons, signed 2-year $10 million contract in 2019)

FB - Kyle Juszczyk (2013 4th round pick Ravens, signed 4-year $21 million contract in 2017)

TE - George Kittle (2017 5th round pick)

LT - Joe Staley (2007 1st round pick)

LG - Laken Tomlinson (2015 1st round pick Lions, traded for in 2017 for a 5th round pick, free agent this offseason)

C - Ben Garland (2010 UDFA, signed one-year contract in 2019)

RG - Mike Person (2011 7th round pick by 49ers, stops in Sea/StL/Atl/Ind, signed in 2019, extended 3-year for $9 million)

RT - Mike McGlinchey (2018 1st round pick)

WR - Emmanuel Sanders (2010 3rd round pick Steelers, traded for in 2019)

WR - Deebo Samuel (2019 2nd round pick)

WR - Kendrick Bourne (2017 UDFA)

WR - Dante Pettis (2018 2nd round pick)

Offense Overall - The 49ers have basically hit on no first round picks on offense since 2010 (Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati). Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey make a nice bookends but were drafted 12 seasons apart along with Davis in the middle there. At wide receiver they’ve invested a ton of picks and still traded for Emmanuel Sanders. They’ve paid a ton to RBs (don’t forget they’re paying Jerrick McKinnon right now too) and Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert are their top backs. It’s basically Kittle, Staley, McGlinchey and Samuel as their draft picks on offense (Pettis was 4th in snaps at WR).

RDE - Arik Armstead (2015 1st round pick)

DT - DeForest Buckner (2016 1st round pick)

DT - Solomon Thomas (2017 1st round pick)

DT - Sheldon Day (2016 4th round pick Jaguars, claimed 2017 on waivers)

DE - Nick Bosa (2019 1st round pick)

DE - Dee Ford (2014 1st round pick Chiefs, traded for 2nd round pick, signed 5-year $87.5 million contract extension in 2019)

LB - Kwon Alexander (2015 4th round pick Bucs, signed 4-year $54 million contract)

LB - Fred Warner (2018 3rd round pick)

LB - Dre Greenlaw (2019 5th round pick)

CB - Richard Sherman (2011 5th round pick, signed 3-year $39 million contract in 2018)

CB - K’Waun Williams (2014 UDFA Browns, signed in 2017 w/ 49ers, signed 3-year extension late 2017)

CB - Emmanuel Moseley (2018 UDFA)

CB - Ahkello Witherspoon (2017 3rd round pick)

SS - Jaquiski Tartt (2015 2nd round pick, signed 2-year $13 million extension in 2018)

FS - Jimmie Ward (2014 1st round pick, signed one-year $4.5 million extension in 2019)

Defense Overall - The 49ers spent five first round picks in five seasons to get one season of good defense (don’t forget the fateful 2017 where they took defensive cornerstones Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster). The 49ers defensive DVOA since taking Armstead:

2015 - 27
2016 - 28
2017 - 26
2018 - 23

Now the question is, can they retain and maintain a great defense?

If the Cardinals follow the 49ers lead, their defense will be ready to compete in 2024 when they finally trade for wide receiver help.