"Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige"."
--Michael Cain, The Prestige (2006)
I'm not going to say all of us, but I'm sure most of us love magic. The mystery, the suspense, the danger. It's always the unknown that grabs our attention. Are there really aliens on other planets, are ghosts real? Unless you're a Patriots fan ... yuck ... j/k ... no really yuck, there is a certain unknown with an upcoming season.
Five rookie quarterbacks drafted in the first round, how long before they all start. We all knew Tyrod Taylor was the starting quarterback for the Browns, the unknown was how long before Baker Mayfield becomes the starter. We all knew Patrick Mahomes was a very talented and gifted quarterback, the unknown was will the Chiefs offense experience growing pains trading away Alex Smith. And we all knew the hype train for the 49ers was a barrelling locomotive with "All Gas, No Brakes" playing in five primetime games for the whole world to see, the unknown was would it derail before the end of the season. But did the train really derail itself?
The 49ers, an ordinary team with no hope for the future, and a dysfunctional front office firing coaches fast than they can bring them in. Someone on the inside leaking information to the media creating even more friction from the owner down to the janitor. I remember watching this team and feeling absolutely disgusted with what they were putting out there as a product and knowing the front office was doing everything in its power to keep the team from succeeding only made matters worse.
The front office changes, the coaching staff changes. They start to turn over the roster. They bring over a franchise quarterback with only a 2nd round pick, tell me that's not magic. As I said up above, the hype train was full speed ahead in the offseason. The five primetime games, after starting the season 0-9 and finishing at 6-10 in 2017. The NFL knew something was special with this team. The injuries started to pile up and that was the end of it for 2018. But, as much as it sucked to lose Garoppolo, his loss is putting huge spotlights on the other weaknesses of this team, like an edge rusher.
Remember when Michael Cain said the prestige was the hardest part. Rebuilding an NFL franchise from the bottom up is the hardest thing to do, but so rewarding in the end. When the final product is complete is it something magical to behold. I wrote in my last 49ers recap they are now playing for a high draft pick. There are still needs on this team and as much as it sucks to have to endure another season like last year, there are definite signs of improvement. There are reasons to be optimistic about the 49ers moving forward in the future. We haven't had many reasons to be optimistic in recent years, but I am right now.
The 49ers have a top five offensive line according to PPF. They could arguably have one of the best linebacker duos in Reuben Foster and Fred Warner. George Kittle is becoming one of the best tight ends in the league. DeForest Buckner is an absolute monster on the defensive line. Richard Sherman is still playing at a high level. Quarterbacks are completely avoiding throwing his way. He's been target eight times and has only given up one reception, for 18 yards. There are pieces in place in creating a contender and even if the 49ers go 1-15 in 2018, I still view 2019 as our Prestige.
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