Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan airs frustration at turnovers, is open to considering Brandon Aiyuk on punt returns

Nov 15, 2020 at 6:10 PM--

The effort was certainly where it needed to be for the San Francisco 49ers to pull an upset over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but a series of costly turnovers caused the 49ers to fall short and left head coach Kyle Shanahan with a feeling of missed opportunity.

The 49ers were ten-point underdogs coming into the game against the Saints following a 34-17 loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers on November 5. But while the game against the Packers never felt close, the 49ers were competitive in the 27-13 loss to the Saints and may have even been able to create a different result had they been able to take better care of the football.

Instead, the 49ers gave away the ball four times against the Saints, and in the end, the result was what can usually be expected under those circumstances.

"As a whole, a bright spot is I thought our guys were fighting their ass off," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "There's no moral victories here, but I knew there was a big challenge going in. I'm sick at how hard they fought and that we had a chance to win that game, and I think it really came down to turnovers. That was the thing that was most disheartening. I think we take care of that ball with the effort that all those guys gave, I think it could have been a much different result."

Two of the 49ers' giveaways came on punts, with one coming when the ball hit the turf and bounced off defensive back Ken Webster after receiver Trent Taylor decided against making a fair catch and the other coming via a muff from receiver Richie James. Both mistakes set up the Saints with a short field and resulted in touchdowns.

"Our special teams has to be better than that as far as a turnover standpoint," Shanahan said.

James was inserted as the punt returner after Taylor's miscue but didn't inspire confidence after he failed to field his punt. Shanahan was asked after the game if the 49ers might consider giving a look at rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who returned kicks and punts during his college days at Arizona State and had an impressive 16.1 average on punt returns with one touchdown as a senior in 2019.

"He's been out, trying to get back healthy and (we're) trying to get him started at receiver first, but it's something we've definitely got to look to after what happened today," Shanahan said.

The other two 49ers turnovers came on interceptions by quarterback Nick Mullens -- one by safety Malcolm Jenkins at the Saints' 24-yard line in the second quarter and one by cornerback Patrick Robinson in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Mullens took responsibility for the interceptions after the game and admitted the turnovers were particularly costly given how little room for error the 49ers had against the Saints.

"I feel like we needed a really good game and I thought we did some good things," Mullens said. "But when you're playing a good team like that, the mistakes are going to be that much more crucial. It proved that today. We need a disciplined, sound football game, and it's really frustrating when you don't get that."

The 49ers now head into their bye week at 4-6, knowing that things could have been much different this season had the team been able to avoid the heavy amount of injuries it's experienced to this point. But there's also some knowledge that the 4-6 record would be better had the team been able to play more cleanly in the games it lost. After Sunday's defeat in New Orleans, it seems clear that hanging onto the football will be a priority for the 49ers over the final six games of the season.

"I look back at I believe our four wins, I think we were like plus five or plus eight in turnovers -- one of the two," Shanahan said. "Then in our five losses, this being our sixth, I think we're like minus ten or something. So, huge difference there. I know we're missing some people, but I think if we took care of the ball today we would have had a very good chance of being in that game. But we didn't and blew an opportunity there."

Related News

More San Francisco 49ers News

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk says his son can be anything except a fan of this one team

By David Bonilla
Feb 24, 2021

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk's mother is a San Francisco 49ers fan. She was a fan even before her favorite team drafted her son. "My mom has been a huge 49ers fan her whole life," Aiyuk told reporters shortly after being drafted, "so that kind of bled on me a little bit when I was younger." Aiyuk was asked if that fandom stuck with him throughout his childhood. "So, I wouldn't say a fan throughout," he responded. "I just kind of just move with players. But, definitely, when I was younger, I was rolling with the 49ers because of my mom." Aiyuk and his girlfriend, Rochelle, had a son, Braylon, in September. Now that Aiyuk is a father,

10 impactful 49ers March moves in the Lynch-Shanahan era

By Kirk Larrabee
Feb 21, 2021

The month of March is just over a week away, which means the 49ers may soon do something that will have a profound impact on their team for years to come. It's not much of a stretch to expect that to happen, at least based on what the team has done during the month of March in the four years that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have been together. The 49ers have made a slew of March roster moves in that time, some of which made major headlines across the NFL. A few of those moves paid off for the 49ers, while others have had little or no impact -- or have even been impactful in a negative way. Here's a look back at ten March moves in particular that left a positive or negative mark (or both). 10. Signing defensive end

Simms wonders if 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is changing how he views QBs

By David Bonilla
Feb 24, 2021

Last year, Kyle Shanahan watched as Patrick Mahomes rallied his team late in the Super Bowl to dash the San Francisco 49ers' hopes of a sixth championship. With Deshaun Watson wanting out of Houston and interested teams contemplating what it might take to acquire the quarterback, should he force a trade, the coach has to look back at 2017 with at least a little regret. The 49ers could have had Watson — or Mahomes for that matter — and perhaps never would have had to wonder "what if?" The 49ers passed on both quarterbacks because the plan was to acquire Kirk Cousins during the rebuilding process. So Shanahan and general manager John Lynch used their first-ever draft pick as a duo on defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. It's been assumed that Shanahan is

New 49ers OC Mike McDaniel explains the thinking behind a Kyle Shanahan offense

By David Bonilla
Mar 1, 2021

Before landing with the San Francisco 49ers, the longest Mike McDaniel had spent with an NFL team was three years. That came with the Houston Texans between 2006 and 2008. That's also where he started working with Kyle Shanahan. Then-Texans head coach Gary Kubiak gave Shanahan his first shot as a position coach and McDaniel his first shot as a paid assistant. Then Kubiak threw the two in a room together. That's where the relationship started, McDaniel shared with NBC Sports Bay Area. The two went on to work together in Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta. Shanahan built so much trust in McDaniel that he brought the assistant to San Francisco when Shanahan was named the head coach in 2017. McDaniel has been with the 49ers since — his longest tenure with one


Trending News

Share 49erswebzone