Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports



A number of San Francisco 49ers players appeared to be discouraged and frustrated following the team's fourth-straight loss of the season. The winless 49ers are young but there are veterans on the roster who were part of the team's previous losing seasons. Going through another one is likely more difficult for those players.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media on Wednesday and isn't as discouraged as others might be. While he admits the 49ers are inconsistent, Shanahan is encouraged by several aspects of the team's progress and isn't focusing on the winless record it possesses.

"If you look at the tape, there's lots of things to be encouraged about," Shanahan told reporters. "There is. It's tough as a coach to ever turn it on and feel like you're not doing anything good, but I haven't felt that way really once after any of the four games. I know we've got to do better and we've got to clean a lot of stuff up, but that's the goal – to get better each week."

What are some of the things that encourage Shanahan when it comes to the 49ers' play in 2017? The head coach believes special teams have been more consistent than either of the other two units. However, he is not ready to admit that the offense and defense cannot catch up.

"I really don't come to conclusions until the year is over," Shanahan said. "There's a lot of ebbs and flows throughout a year. Each game is different depending on the matchups, what type of people you're going against. You always rate a team, but it's also different, the battles inside a game, what's the matchup, the offense versus their defense? The defense versus their offense and the special teams. Each week is a little bit different. I think our special teams has definitely been the most consistent and done the best so far, but we'll see when the year is over."

Another aspect which encourages Shanahan lies on the offensive side of the football. The head coach has been encouraged by the 49ers' pass protection despite quarterback Brian Hoyer having been sacked 13 times through just four games, which is tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Only Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals (17), Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs (16), Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers (15), and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals (14) have been brought down more.

"I think the pass protection has been pretty good," Shanahan said. "I think our strengths are tackles outside. I think they've done a good job. I thought they did a decent job last week. When guys pressure, you can't hold onto the ball. We've got to pick those blitzes up and get rid of it. I thought we did a pretty good job of that for the most part. We missed a couple blitzing safeties with their backs in the game, which hurt us a couple times, but I've been pretty pleased with our protection."

Speaking of tackles, Shanahan was asked to evaluate Trent Brown.

"I think he's just working to get more consistent and I think he has," Shanahan said. "Trent's strength is his protection. He's a very big, long guy who's hard to get around. He can put together some very impressive clips and I think he's done a pretty good job for us this year and I thought he did a pretty good job for the team last year just watching him on tape. His whole deal is just trying to get better and more consistent. I think one hard thing about O-Linemen is people don't really notice you until you miss. You can play a perfect game, but you have one bad mistake at the end of the game and it's a crucial sack and then you played bad.

"The more consistent you can be, which I think he will be the more he plays, the more he's in this scheme, the more he can just be decisive in everything he does because he's a very talented guy. What I've been impressed with Trent since I've been here is I believe he's working at it and I believe he's going for it."

Shanahan was asked how he keeps his players – especially the veterans who are frustrated – encouraged amid the 49ers' 0-4 start to the season.

"You watch tape together," Shanahan said. "I mean, everyone after a loss is frustrated. You try not to lose perspective and just sit and focus on 0-4. If I sit and think about 0-4 and just constantly harp on the results, I'll get the same way. And I think that's human nature and I think everyone feels that way after a loss.

"But, then you go back and you watch the tape and you coach and you study and you try to get better. I do strongly believe that when you lose three games by a total of eight points that you very easily could have won those games just by one or two plays going different. If one or two plays would have gone different, we'd be 3-1 and people would probably be hyping us up telling us that we're something maybe more than we are.

"And then you've got to put that in perspective. You didn't make those plays and you're 0-4 and people might be telling you that maybe you're worse than you are. It all depends on what you see on the tape, which is why you try to keep it real and keep perspective. You focus on the process. What I can say is I do see some good things on tape and that's why I think we've had a chance to win all those three games.

"But, it hasn't been good enough and that's why we didn't get it done and we've got to finish. We've had opportunities in these last three games to win at the end and we haven't finished. That goes from the coaching staff to all the players and we've got to make those plays in the moment of truth that are the difference of winning and losing. And when you don't, you don't overcome those mistakes."