The San Francisco 49ers have one of the biggest fan bases in the NFL due to having had major success in the 80s with Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Steve Young. But after this purple patch, they have had on and off struggles for most of the last couple of decades.
They did have another good run under Jim Harbaugh from 2011 to 2013 but haven’t had a winning record since. Last season then ended with a 4-12 record. So, to see them 8-1 and top of the NFC in the season so far is heart-warming for the long-suffering fans.
In Madden 20, the latest updates have started to
reflect this emergence as a dominant team. But what pieces do you need to add
to make sure you bring glory back to the Golden State?
UNDERVALUED: Despite a strong record Madden gives SF an 81 OVR
The 49ers start life in Madden rated 81 overall. With an offensive powerhouse rated 84, and the defense lagging a little on 79. They have a lot of talent in the team, with a focus on X-Factor Superstars TE George Kittle (90 OVR) and CB Richard Sherman (93 OVR).
They also have great depth at HB, with Tevin Coleman (83 OVR), Matt Breida and Jared McKinnon (both 82 OVR). This is supported with a Star QB in Jimmy Garroppolo (78 OVR), FB Kyle Juszczyk (85 OVR) and a deep WR group led by Marquise Goodwin (84 OVR) and Dante Pettis (80 OVR).
On defense, the line is stacked. Stud DT Deforest Buckner (87 OVR) leads the way, supported by star rookie LE Nick Bosa (78 OVR) and LE Dee Ford (84 OVR).
Linebacker is a little light on talent, but ROLB Kwon Alexander (79 OVR) is an amazing player to have in your Madden team.
So how can you improve this team to fight for a Lombardi trophy?
The big problems you should be looking to address are focused around the offensive line and the linebacker corps.
To be successful on offensive you are going to need a better center than Weston Richburg (71 run block, 72 pass block). RG Mike Person (76 run block, 78 pass block) isn’t the worst fill in, but he’s 31 and will start regressing soon.
The major issues are on defense. Rookie LOLB Dre Greenlaw (67 overall, 65 block shed, 65 zone cover) has speed, but I need more quality in my starting LBs. Next to him is MLB Fred Warner (73 overall, 80 Hit power, 79 tackle) who has Star development so will improve quickly – but again he needs support and there's a huge drop off to all other players in this area of the team.
The first thing to do with this roster is target the areas that have wasted talent that won't see the field.
Having 3 top HB’s is too much, even with injuries you wouldn’t be expecting to have much collateral tied up in your 3rd HB. McKinnon and Coleman both have a big penalty for trading or cutting so I would be looking to shift Breida in return for a 3rd rounder.
Likewise, we are stacked at DE and I would rather move Dee Ford to RE so that Bosa can start. This will allow us to deal Arik Armstead. Whilst he’s a good player, he has a $9m saving without penalty which is an opportunity too good to ignore.
He got me a 1st and 7th rounder from the Patriots that goes into the bank.
HAUL: Getting picks back is crucial
At OLB there is a real lack of talent in the league and in FA. So I would target these players using your 1st rounder, and the additional picks you got from the players above.
Leighton Vander Esch, Right Outside Linebacker (86 OVR)
Best Stats: Acceleration (91), Pursuit (91), Tackle (87), Speed (86), Play Rec (84), Block Shed (82), Awareness (82), Hit Power (81)
A leading talent at the position of need, do whatever you can to get the Cowboys to give him to you. You won't be able to draft a player with this much upside at the age of 23.
He has elite acceleration (91) and tackling (87). His play recognition (84) is way beyond his years and he will hunt the ball carrier down with pursuit (91). The scary thing is that being young he has plenty of scope to use the Superstar status to get loads of XP and improve.
Za'Darius Smith, Left Outside Linebacker (84 OVR)
Best Stats: Awareness (89), Play Rec (88), Power Moves (87), Pursuit (87), Acceleration (85), Tackle (84), Hit Power (83), Speed (81)
A slightly more affordable option, and at age 27 - what you see is what you get. But for a slightly more efficient run stopper and pass rusher, Smith is a fantastic option with power moves (87) and play recognition (88).
He gets to the ball with pursuit (87) and wraps up tackles (84). He is a really solid starter you'd have in your team for up to 5 seasons.
Free Agency Targets
These guys won't cost you draft picks, but you'll need some cap space to sign them.
Nick Perry, Right Outside Linebacker (80
Best Stats: Acceleration
(87), Hit Power (86), Pursuit (86), Speed (85), Block Shed (83), Play Rec (82),
Strength (82), Tackle (81)
Not the best player at the position, and not necessarily the best fit. But with a complete lack of depth in the NFL at this position – beggars can’t be choosers. I would snap up Perry to be an instant starter.
With fair acceleration (87) and speed (85), he won’t be a liability at the position. And with hit power (86) and tackle (81) I would expect him to be a solid run defender for the team. Flip him to LOLB to fill the gap.
Clint Boling, Right Guard (76 OVR)
Best Stats: Strength (87),
Lead Block (86), Impact Block (86), Awareness (85), Run Block (76), Pass Block
Another position that has issues with depth is the offensive line. To really get going on offense you need this unglamourous position to be filled with stars.
We don’t really have much access to any so I would acquire Boling and then edit him to being a center. He doesn’t lose too much (75 OVR) and he has good strength (87) to deal with big DTs. His run block (76) and pass block (75) is well balanced, and he runs a power offense well.
The draft should focus on offensive line and trying to find a LT replacement for Superstar Joe Staley (94 run block, 89 pass block) who is 35 and likely to retire soon.
Any other starters on the offensive line would be valuable before then reverting to best player available.