The play of Jimmy Garoppolo has been nothing short of incredible and it has given the 49ers the best holiday gift possible: hope. The front office, fans and players on the roster believe in the future.
"Minus our record, we're a really good football team," Hyde said, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. "Next year we're going to win the Super Bowl."
Hyde is scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason. He has no interest in leaving.
"I feel we've got a chance to go the Super Bowl next year and I don't want to go to another team," Hyde added.
What makes this even more interesting is that Hyde has not been fed like a workhorse this year. He got the ball 21 times against the Jaguars in the 49ers' latest win, but that was just his second 20-carry game of the season. There were also rumors about the 49ers' lack of interest in Hyde all offseason and leading into the year, plus the emergence of Matt Brieda as a threat out of the backfield. It would be perfectly reasonable if Hyde was not interested in returning to the 49ers next year.
And yet, he clearly finds himself attracted to the idea of continuing to play with Jimmy G -- this is a four-win team in the middle of a late-season heater, unearthing a gem of a quarterback in Garoppolo who has drawn rave reviews since his arrival in San Francisco.
From the moment that Garoppolo stepped on the field for the 49ers, Tom Brady. Dudes are .. When you go behind the scenes, his buddy
His coach, Kyle Shanahan, told Mike Silver of NFL Media that he's "rubbed off on everyone" and that the team, despite having one of the five worst records in football, doesn't want the season to end.
"He's doing everything we hoped for, and more," Shanahan said. "And all the guys around him -- I can't even explain to you how much better everyone is playing since he got here. He has rubbed off on everyone. It's too bad we have to take a break here soon."
Left tackle Joe Staley said Garoppolo has a "different aura" than most quarterbacks. Staley's been with the 49ers since he was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He's seen a lot of good times (almost a Super Bowl win) and a lot of bad times (four coaches in the last half decade or so).
"He is very calm, collected and focused," Staley said before Week 16. "Not to say that wasn't here before, but it definitely has a different aura around him. We are really excited about him. It is fun to block for him."
Watch Garoppolo's best throws and it's easy to understand. He can do things a lot of other quarterbacks can't, as he showed when he threw a sidearm touchdown bullet to Trent Taylor while running to his left.
One might think that Staley would be ready for the season to end, but he's already feeling pressure for next year.
"It's exciting, man," Staley said after beating the Jaguars. "I was telling our offensive line coach, I wish it was Week 6. I can't wait -- next year's gonna be pretty special. Now the pressure's on the rest of us: We can't [screw] it up!"
The expectations are going to be remarkably high for a team coming off a bad campaign. With the Seahawks in decline and potentially seeing lots of changes next year and the Rams being a newcomer to the contender scene, expect people to pick Garoppolo and the 49ers to make noise in their second year under Shanahan.
And, yet, when it comes to Garoppolo, nothing feels out of control. That's how good he has been and how much he's reset expectations.