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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young explains why lack of trust between Shanahan and Garoppolo is leading to second half issues and why he’s still high on the 49ers

Oct 26, 2022 at 7:42 PM--

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There were a number of areas of concern to pop up in the 49ers' 44-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, with one of them being the continuation of a disappointing trend where the team struggles to overcome second half deficits under head coach Kyle Shanahan. Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young thinks there are still some trust issues that need to be worked out between Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo before that problem can be fixed, but even if it isn't solved, Young believes the 49ers are still very much in the thick of things in the NFC, and on Wednesday he explained why.

Young joined KNBR's Tolbert & Copes Podcast Wednesday for his weekly radio appearance and looked back on the dismal loss to the Chiefs, during which the 49ers dug themselves into a double-digit hole in the second half and couldn't recover. The loss to the Chiefs moved the 49ers to 1-30 under Shanahan in games where they are trailing by three or more points heading into the fourth quarter, leading many fans to wonder why this team isn't better when it comes to rallying from those types of deficits.

Young pointed at trust as the reason -- specifically, a lack of trust between Shanahan and Garoppolo that makes Shanahan hesitant to let loose with his play calling, which in turn makes it harder for the 49ers to notch come-from-behind victories.

"There is, and when I say lack of trust between Jimmy and Kyle, what I'm saying is, and I repeat this all the time -- Mike (Shanahan) said this to me," Young said. "I know that (Bills head coach) Sean McDermott has said it to Josh Allen. I know that Patrick Mahomes has heard this because Andy (Chiefs head coach Andy Reid) told me this -- but turning to those guys and saying 'I am going to be aggressive for four quarters. You protect me.' And that's that trust level. I don't think we're there.

"People start to see your game plan. You've got to kind of be iterative. And then I think either Kyle has to go all in and say, 'I'm just going to do it. I'm going to let it rip the way I want to and take it where it comes,' or 'I'm going to continue to manage through the second halves.' And that would speak to why we're not coming back in the fourth quarter and all of that."

Young continued on to say that the issue was on Garoppolo and Shanahan to fix, and that they're the only ones who can eliminate the problem.

"It's both of them and they've got to figure out how to make those adjustments for each other so they can be more aggressive and create more opportunities and not kick field goals against the best teams," Young said.

Whether or not the 49ers can make strides in that area remains to be seen, but Young is still confident in this team's ability to compete for a Super Bowl berth, even after the lopsided loss to the Chiefs. He admitted he wouldn't be as optimistic if the 49ers were in the AFC ("If you had to play the Chiefs every week, that would not make me happy," Young said), but because the NFC isn't as intimidating, Young feels the 49ers still have a good shot.

"Nothing's really changed in my mind in the NFC. Let's just play it out," Young said.

One reason Young has faith in the 49ers is a core of players that proved itself in the past and has the football acumen to do so again, even though they're heading into the last week of October with only a 3-4 mark. Young compared the current group to some of his former teammates in how they were able to combine their understanding of what was at hand with their elite abilities.

"Tom Rathman, he freakin' got football," Young said. "Brent Jones, John Taylor, Jerry (Rice), they get the game. In that way, when you have great supreme athletes and you kind of get it? The 2019 team, I really felt that locker room was just a bunch of guys that get it. And I feel we still have that. We still have that core that's going to come through in the end. Why we're going to be good at the end of the season is we have a core of guys who really get it, still."

Young also believes the 49ers will be helped by the addition of running back Christian McCaffrey. Young was among those impressed with McCaffrey's ability to make positive contributions in his 49ers debut against the Chiefs despite being traded from the Carolina Panthers just three days earlier, and he believes the 49ers will present significant problems for opposing defenses once all their top playmakers reach a full understanding of how Shanahan wants them to function together on offense.

"You can tell that he stepped off the plane already having spent five hours on the plane memorizing stuff," Young said of McCaffrey. "And he had the intellectual capability to do that, so that's pretty impressive. But what I really love too is that he handled things in and out of the huddle. He had to be reminded of a couple things -- you could see Jimmy turn to him and kind of remind him what to do -- but no false starts, knew where he was headed, no big mistakes, no gaffes.

"You show up on Friday and roll through and play and do something productive? ...That's a sign for the future because if Kyle can design things that put Deebo (Samuel) and him and Brandon (Aiyuk) and George (Kittle) in places where they can start to help each other and understand the spatial relationship amongst each other and what we're trying to accomplish, with three of them, you can say 'Wow, that's a problem.' But four of them? You can put people in a bind every play if everybody is on the same page. That's I think why they paid them the price that they did, because you can start to abuse people with the people you're throwing at them."

If they can come together on offense and stay healthier than they were over the past two months, the 49ers have a second half slate that could line them up for success. They have a crucial road game this week against the Los Angeles Rams before heading into a bye, then they have seven of their final nine games at home. Three of those games are against teams from the AFC (Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders), but the rest of them are against the NFC (Seahawks, Buccaneers, Saints, Commanders, and two against the Cardinals). Add it all up and Young expects the 49ers to once again be in the thick of things at the end.

"We should hold our own or beat down most teams in the NFC going forward," Young said.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.

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