By the way, the Celtics are in line to have another top-five pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
The 49ers need look no further than the team across the field from them Sunday (and last week against the Jags) to see teams can make huge leaps in one year. The Rams were 4-12 last season before rebounding to 11-4 and playoff-bound this year. There are other similarities, too �� both teams have young, offensive-oriented coaches who do a great job of scheming for opponents, a big help to young QBs. This 49ers-Rams rivalry has the makings of once again being a fun one to watch over the next several years, as does 49ers-Seahawks.
Lynch will need to fortify Garoppolo’s supporting cast through the 2018 draft and free agency in order for the 49ers to ascend to playoff contention next season. Rookie George Kittle (39 receptions) is an effective tight end, and Carlos Hyde is a good running back, but there are no elite wide receivers on the roster. Buffalo cast-off Marquis Goodwin leads the team with 54 catches for 939 yards but just one TD.
The Niners’ defense has been the focus with recent first-round draft picks, including safety Eric Reid, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and this year’s two first-round picks, defensive end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster. This group creates a nice nucleus for continued growth. The special teams are led by kicker Robbie Gould, who is having an outstanding season (37-of-39 on field goals, including 6-of-6 against Tennessee).
The Boston Celtics remain in first place in the Eastern Conference, having conceded the slot for 24 hours recently. Kyrie Irving is a surefire All-Star and dark horse MVP candidate. Jayson Tatum is a top-three Rookie of the Year candidate, which is absolutely wild for a 19-year-old who joined a really good team. Despite the catastrophic injury to star free agent pickup Gordon Hayward in Game 1, Boston actually looks capable of challenging LeBron James and the Cavaliers for a trip to the NBA Finals.
Boston traded the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick in the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to New England. But the other major trade the C’s made last summer �� sending the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future choice �� means Boston could pick in the top five for the third straight season despite making the playoffs each year.