Illustration by Fintan O’Sullivan
The end of the 2017 National Football League (NFL) season marked another disgruntled year for Bay Area football fans. Both teams finished with an underwhelming 6-10 record. Both teams had their ups and downs in a season that seemed to further the notion that no coach could bring these two teams back to their former best. But along with the frustration fans are feeling there is hope that each team can drastically improve next season.
Heading into this season, hope was especially high for Raiders’ fans. The Raiders were coming off a 12-4 season, their best record since 2000. Fans were confident the new season could overwrite the bitter ending of the previous season. Carr never rediscovered the form he had last season, and with his drop in production came a drop in wins for the Raiders. This led to the second biggest drop in wins in NFL history, with only the Chargers drop from an 11-5 record in 2002 to a 4-12 record in 2003 representing a bigger drop in wins. This drastic regression led to the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio, who’s departure paved way for a reunion with famed former coach Jon Gruden. Gruden’s history of success with the team has instilled hope in fans for next season.
The season started very badly for the 49ers, with a nine game winless streak leading to frustration with new head coach Kyle Shanahan. During this run, the team was very unlucky. They became the first team in NFL history to lose five consecutive games by three points or less. The team was able to win their last five games of the season, largely due to the play of exciting new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers acquired him in a trade mid season and he led the team to victory every game he played in. This has 49ers fans and football fans alike thinking Garoppolo could be the man to bring the 49ers back to their dominant best.
The changes made in key positions by the teams on each side of the Bay have led to a new sense of hope for each franchise. The Raiders acquired a fantastic new coach to bring success back to Oakland before their impending move to Las Vegas. The 49ers seemingly solved their long term issue at one of the most important positions in football, and the team are predicted by many to be a playoff team next year. Fans on both sides of the Bay have lots of hope that a strong 2018 season from each team will erase any bad memories of this year’s losing teams.