Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


The 49ers are Broken, Shanahan Must Fix Them

Gilbert Brink
Oct 13, 2020 at 9:33 AM


That championship window closed fast. In January, I wrote a piece about how the 49ers were facing a must-win Super Bowl. It wasn't a popular opinion at the time, but sitting at 2-3 the 49ers have made me look like a sage with boundless wisdom. After getting demolished by Ryan Fitzpatrick this past Sunday, the 49ers look more lost than they ever have under the guidance of head coach Kyle Shanahan. With no identity and no passion, the 49ers have become the stereotypical Super Bowl hangover story.

As it often does, failure begins with a handful of bad decisions. After losing 2 team captains, the 49ers replaced them with a rookie and a veteran who hasn't played since 2018. As DT DeForest Buckner dominates in Indianapolis and LT Joe Staley tweets from his couch, their replacements are struggling to fill the void left in their absences. The 49ers essentially traded DeForest Bucker for the rights to pick DT Javon Kinlaw, a player who was clearly a project and is now grading out at 61.5 according to Pro Football Focus. In 5 games, Kinlaw hasn't registered a sack, tackle-for-loss or a forced fumble. Meanwhile, the 49ers passed up WR Ceedee Lamb (29 receptions, 433 yards 2 TDs) to select Kinlaw when they had a glaring need for a top WR. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers traded for LT Trent Williams to replace 49ers legend Joe Staley. Williams started out well, but has become a turnstile over the past 2 games. It shouldn't be so surpring that the 49ers have been wandering around Levi's Stadium aimlessly in their first 3 home games, maybe DeFo and Staley meant a lot more than anyone could have imagined.

Blaming this downfall entirely on injuries is a cheap excuse that loser organizations employ. The 2018 49ers had that platform to lean on, and it seems Kyle Shanahan is cozying up to the "well, what can you expect?" ideology again. This team was 7 minutes away from a Super Bowl victory and these coaches were a big part of that success. In 2020, they are the biggest contributor to the 49ers' 2-3 record. The 49ers lost on Sunday strictly due to poor coaching. Their failure to identify CB Brian Allen as a fatal flaw and their even bigger failure to adjust were the main reasons the Dolphins were able to embarrass the on-the-ropes NFC champions. When the coaches spot the opponent multiple touchdowns, the players cannot be expected to save the asses of the incompetent leadership that led them to the slaughter. Blame a hobbled QB if that makes it easier, but the head coach has never won a damn thing without that QB and it doesn't seem like he has any ability to do so going forward.

QB C.J. Beathard's whole career has been a bad decision that Kyle Shanahan cannot admit to. Therefore, he has a good chance of starting on Sunday night against a Rams team that is sure to devour the 49ers offensive line. Beathard was Shanahan's first QB selection. Nick Mullens is the QB who made Shanahan begrudgingly place him on the practice squad. In Nick Mullens' first start this season, he played so well, some people preferred that he stay around and Garoppolo sit the bench. Then the Eagles came to town, steamrolled the 49ers o-line, and Shanahan used the opportunity to reinsert his guy as the backup after 1 bad game from Mullens. Another bad decision. Beathard's greatest flaws are his lack of pocket presence and a consistency in turning over the ball. Why in the hell does Kyle Shanahan believe a player with those struggles is the best option behind the worst offensive line in football? The same reason RB Tevin Coleman and WR Trent Taylor are still lingering around this roster: they're Kyle guys.

Kyle falls hard for certain players for whatever reason. He fell so hard for QB Kirk Cousins he neglected scouting the QB who took his Super Bowl away from him, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. In 2017, when the 49ers had the #2 overall selection, Kyle Shanahan liked QB Mitch Trubisky more than both Mahomes and Texans QB Dashaun Watson, two players who he didn't study because he always just wanted his guy.

This stubbornness may just sink the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers Super Bowl window is closed for all intents and purposes. The roster will lose many key contributors in 2021, and right now the team seems completely directionless with questions swirling around the quarterback and head coach. Kyle Shanahan has to evolve, he cannot embrace the comfort of excuses and the poor me philosophy. Whether it be changing up the offensive line, tweaking his schemes or flat-out re-inventing his whole damn concept of approaching football, something has to change. On Sunday night, the 49ers will be facing the LA Rams and it may be the biggest Week 6 game of Kyle Shanahan's career. Another dud in prime time could completely lose the team, while a win over a division rival could galvanize a downtrodden group of men to push forward and find a way out of this mess. What will it be, coach?
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.


1 Comment

  • Paul
    You never allow comments to get posted, but I'll give it one last try. It has been a horrible injury riddled season, and they should have had enough to be 4-1 right now. Luckily, the schedule was so weak they aren't win less right now. I never thought Saleh was very good. Can you imagine what the Patriot's coaches would have done with that defense last year? A major flaw with the 49ers coaching is they are stubborn. Saleh can't or won't adjust to other teams. Shanahan sometimes needs to reduce the complication of his plays, and also be less stubborn. The Patriots lost Brady and went 11-5 years ago. The non-mobile QB is a dying breed, and the 49ers have 3. With all the injuries in a horrible pandemic year (except for Pat Mahomes whose year keeps getting better) an off season isn't a shock. Championship windows can close and new ones can open really quick with the right moves. Stop overspending on suspect free agents. Reggie White isn't available.
    Oct 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM
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