The San Francisco 49ers overcame multiple flaws within their team to go from a 4-12 record in 2018 to reach the Super Bowl this past season. The 49ers have shown that the underachieving teams in previous seasons can become elite in one off-season. Several teams have the potential to become instant playoff contenders with a great off-season. The Los Angeles Chargers need one off-season to sort through their weaknesses that dragged them down to an underwhelming 5-11 record in the previous season. The Chargers can be like the San Francisco 49ers by solving their weaknesses from the previous season. Their record last season doesn’t show the potential and positive traits the Chargers. Out of all the teams that were severely under .500 in wins, the Chargers are the team to watch for a potential Super Bowl run in 2020.
The Los Angeles Chargers Are Capable of Making a San Francisco 49ers-Style Run in 2020
1. Derwin James Will Be Back From Injury
The Chargers were eager to have one of the top defenses in the league this past season. Second-year safety Derwin James suffered a foot fracture that forced him to miss three months of games. The loss of his impact on the defensive side of the ball was the most significant downside to the season. James only played in five total games this past season where he accounted for 34 total tackles and three tackles for loss. The loss of his playmaking abilities wasn’t the only attribute that the Chargers missed. In just two seasons, James has turned into one of the most versatile players and leaders on the field. James will return to a Chargers defense that was ranked 14th in points allowed per game (21.6). His return will be one of the most significant comebacks this upcoming 2020-2021 NFL season.
2. Melvin Gordon Will No Longer Be a Distraction
Since the beginning of training camp, Gordon has been a headache for the Chargers’ team on-and-off the field. Gordon’s holdout comes at a difficult point for the Chargers because they missed his offensive impact, but he wasn’t worth the same money as Ezekiel Elliot for the Dallas Cowboys. Although Gordon only missed four games, his lack of presence proved his lack of devotion to the team. Gordon will be a free agent and it will be smart for the Chargers to move on. The Chargers are at a point in the 2020 NFL Draft where they can select a valuable running back in the second round. Prospects like Georgia’s D’Andre Swift or Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins could become available in the second round.
3. Chargers’ Trust and Extension for Anthony Lynn
The first two years under coach Lynn saw the Chargers improved with a record of 21-11. This past season showed the Chargers at their worst with injuries, contract holdouts, and regressing players. Coach Lynn held the team together enough so that the Chargers are fully motivated for a full off-season of work for the upcoming season. This upcoming season was going to be the fourth and final year of his contract with the Chargers. The team ultimately decided to extend Lynn with a multi-year contract past the 2020-2021 NFL season. This was a move that the Chargers felt they needed to make in terms of longevity. Letting a coach like Lynn walk out after a potential rebound season will bring the franchise down more.
4. Replacement of Philip Rivers With a Valuable Rookie or Free Agent
This past season proved to be a difficult point for the Chargers and 38-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers was fourth in the league in passing yards thrown (4,615) but he regressed significantly by throwing 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. When the pressure was on Rivers due to the lack of significant running game, Rivers could not fully deliver to his Pro-Bowl days. The Chargers decided to let Rivers walk and start their search for a new franchise quarterback. Many insiders are wanting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to come over. The Chargers have the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL, which would be convenient for a quarterback. A pick on a quarterback prospect like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert would be more efficient on the Chargers for building on a long sustainable future.
5. Kennan Allen and Mike Williams Will Lead an Elite Passing Offense
A new quarterback can make any team anxious due to their unknown potential on the team. Whether the Los Angeles Chargers bring in a free agent or rookie at quarterback, they will have an arsenal of explosive weapons. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams compose one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. This past season, Allen caught 104 receptions for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns. Williams caught 49 receptions for 1,001 yards and two touchdowns. Both receivers are the biggest reason why the Chargers had the sixth-rated passing offense (276.6 passing yards per game) in the league. They accumulated high-volume of stats with a regressing quarterback in Rivers. Both receivers have a dynamic purpose and can play in multiple different systems.