Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Worst-case Scenario for the 2021 49ers

Chris Beno
Nov 7, 2021 at 8:05 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9. This loss could arguably be the worst of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era, since they assumed the head coach and general manager positions in 2017.

Since that time, they have only had one winning season — a Super Bowl run in 2019. Although the 49ers are 3-5 on the season, they still remain one game back in the playoff race. While hopes remain high for the current season, the inability to sustain success goes back much further than the current front office.

In fact, since 2000, the 49ers have only had six seasons with a winning record. That also happens to be the year that the York family took over as owners of the franchise, and Paraag Marathe became the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. According to his biography on 49ers.com, Paraag "works alongside general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan on all aspects of the club's football operations."

Throughout the last 21 years, the 49ers have had nine different head coaches. If the team is looking for reasons why they cannot sustain success for more than three years in a row (Jim Harbaugh era), then they only need to look at the common denominator throughout the last two decades. But let's save our tinfoil hats for another time. Instead, let's focus on this season, particularly the end of that game against Arizona.

With the clock ticking down in the fourth quarter and the game already out of hand, Kyle Shanahan chose to keep his starters on the field instead of using that opportunity to develop their young talent. Questionable decisions like playing veteran offensive lineman Tom Compton instead of promising rookie Jaylon Moore further added to the confusion. Compton gave up two sacks on the night and numerous pressures on the quarterback. Rookies, such as the future leader of the franchise, quarterback Trey Lance, have had little to no quality reps with the starters this season, aside from starting one game for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

The biggest mistake Shanahan and Lynch can make is to look at the fact that the team is still one game out of a Wild Card spot in the playoffs and not use these remaining games to develop the young talent on the team. It is inexcusable not to take their development more seriously and allow veterans to continue struggling on the field. Make no mistake, Garoppolo will not be a 49er next year. It would behoove the team to get Lance as many live game reps as possible going forward to avoid prolonging his development and eventual rookie mistakes in the game.

That decision to roll with the veterans only clarifies Shanahan's biggest fear … another losing season. This team is all out of excuses this year. Fans, coaches, and players can't point to a new front office, complex offense, or injuries on this season's failures. In a way, the coaches are claiming that this team is good enough, that they can afford to redshirt their rookies a year, and that the team is still competitive enough to win. But the clock has been ticking for 21 years, and the Faithful demand better from one of the best franchises in all of sports.

However, after trading two future first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up in the 2021 draft for Lance, Shanahan and Lynch have bought themselves at least another year. With over 30 players entering free agency this off-season, the time to develop their young talent is now. Don't wait to do it with an unknown roster, or that head coach and general manager seat will surely start to get hot if the losses continue and their future star struggles.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focused on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I didn't realize it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but am now focused on doing just that. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles people put out there.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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