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Shame on Shanahan; 49ers are Finished

Gilbert Brink
Dec 14, 2020 at 7:57 AM

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Ask yourself, do you truly believe this a well-coached football team? Catch yourself before you blurt out the injury excuse for the 10,000th time. We get it, a lot of players are injured. The 49ers are a pro football team, believe it or not, and it's a physical game. Injuries happen, but coaches are responsible for creating gameplans based off of the talent they have available. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin got his team to 8-8 with Duck Hodges playing QB. What is Kyle Shanahan's excuse?

Yesterday, the 49ers suffered the unofficial deathblow to their 2020 season. After getting out to an early 7-0 lead vs. the Washington Football Team, the 49ers collapsed in major fashion and watched their playoff aspirations soar out the door. This game wasn't like the 49ers' Monday Night Football loss to the Bills in Week 13. The 49ers had no chance in that game. In this one, however, the 49ers had an abundance of opportunity. In Week 13, the 49ers defense failed to show up. On Sunday, the 49ers defense looked like the force that had kept this season afloat for so long. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh brought his 'A' game as the 49ers defense allowed only 193 total yards. Neither the WFT rushing or passing game accounted for more than 100 yards. The 49ers yielded only 12 first downs and they sacked WFT twice and intercepted 1 pass. Most importantly, Saleh's staunch defense only allowed 9 points. You don't win games on paper, but if you told anyone that is how this game would go, most people would assume the 49ers would have come out of this game 6-7.

Unfortunately, games aren't won on paper, they're won on the field. On the field Sunday, the 49ers produced in 2/3 phases of the game. The defense and special teams upheld their ends of the bargain, while the 49ers offense was absolutely atrocious. There is one person responsible for that, and his name is Kyle Shanahan. His offense isn't very good. It hasn't been good for the entire season. It currently ranks 20th in ppg scored; last year it was 2nd. Injuries play a part in that, but both sides of the ball have suffered severe injuries for the 49ers in 2020. While Shanahan's unit has dropped 18 spots in points generated (2nd in 2019, 20th in 2020), Saleh's defense has only dropped 6 spots in points allowed (8th in 2019, 14th in 2020). The defense is missing its 2 best pass rushers and host of other starting players. It's pretty clear the 49ers have much better coaching on defense than they do on offense. Saleh will get a new coaching gig in 2021. Maybe we're letting the wrong guy walk out the door.

Shanahan's performance this season isn't unfamiliar. If you followed this team for the last 4 seasons, it's quite clear that Shanahan has some glaring limitations. Those limitations are all over the board, from talent evaluation, to game management, to player development. Outside of 2019, Shanahan is looking at the likely outcome that every season he has coached, he loses 10+ games. Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record is." Shanahan's record simply isn't good. It seems that Shanahan can only be successful in the perfect situation. If he has limited injuries (2019), a QB playing well (Jimmy G in 2019), and a dominant defense (2019), he can win some football games (15-4). Whenever that formula is interrupted, he's a clear-cut loser (15-30), losing twice as many games as he wins. The wizard isn't the one making the magic; it's the wand.

Not only is Shanahan having another losing season, but it seems like he has actually regressed in 2020. The 49ers offense has become stagnant. There is a severe lack of creativity, and even less of a risk-taking presence. Yes, 2020 has signaled the birth of "Cowardly Kyle." Against the Bills, the 49ers took the rare deep shot twice with passes to emerging star WR Brandon Aiyuk. So, it only makes sense the following week, there were zero deep balls thrown in a very winnable football game. It seems that Kyle only uncorked these plays when the 49ers are out of a game. How cowardly.

As Nick Mullens struggled, the 49ers trailed by 6 points heading into halftime yesterday. It was clear the 49ers needed a spark, but Kyle Shanahan stuck with Nick Mullens and watched him throw a crippling pick-6 at the end of the 3rd quarter to put the 49ers behind by 16 points. This loss is a microcosm of one of the major issues plaguing this offense. Where is the sense of urgency? How do you punt the ball on 4th and 1, down 8 with 4 minutes to go? Cowardly. Where is the creativity? Why does Kyle Shanahan believe, with the season on the line, that you must stick to your tired, old and outdated script? Stubbornly stupid.

The errors of the past may just be finally catching up to this team. It doesn't matter who plays QB in 2021, the 49ers are headed towards a difficult future. Outside of the pass catching crew, this entire offense can be called into question. For such a run-heavy team, the 49ers don't have one reliable running back. The offensive line? Perhaps it is built entirely wrong. Shanahan places such a heavy focus on the run game and it seems he has done so to the peril of the passing attack.

The 49ers drafted T Mike McGlinchey 9th overall in 2018. The assumption was that McGlinchey was the perfect tackle for the Shanahan run scheme. His pass-blocking was always a weakness, but his ability to run-block was essential to Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers passed up the following players when they drafted McGlinchey: S Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Derwin James, ILB Tremaine Edmunds, and CB Jaire Alexander. McGlinchey can't pass block to save his life. Watching the closing plays of yesterday's loss will remind you of that if you somehow forgot. A complete bust of a pick, and mainly, because he was Shanahan's perfect fit. As McGlinchey struggles to pass block, so does the majority of the offensive line. Shanahan guys, clearly. These flaws were hidden by QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The embattled Garoppolo had an incredibly quick release. When Jimmy is behind center, it seems the line gets slightly better. As usual, Garoppolo provided the makeup to cover up the 49ers' flaws.

This team will look drastically different in 2021. One thing that is certain is Kyle Shanahan will still be the head coach. This might be the case for 2021, but it's hard to imagine that his clock won't begin ticking soon, too. When the 49ers lose their best coach this offseason, it'll be completely up to Kyle Shanahan to make this thing work. If he can't, he'll be well on his way to becoming this generation's Norv Turner.
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.


  • KL
    Obviously someone thinks that the "Skip Bayless thing" is the way to go to get attention. 1st string QB pretty much non existent for the year 3 of the 4 starting defensive line gone for the year One of the top 2 tight ends in all of football gone for the year Top receiver pretty much hurt for the entire year Top running backs hurt quite a bit Top DB's hurt And more... So that "injury excuse" that you want to throw up there. They LEAD THE LEAGUE in having the most injuries so I wouldn't overlook that... Unless I guess if I ran out of ways to get attention to my column. Anybody can cry so why don't you instead realize the season is shot BECAUSE of injuries and maybe look for some bright spots that have developed that will help this team when they get the players back ? Clown..
    Dec 15, 2020 at 4:35 PM
  • Jacob
    Its a Shame... but of writer and website.
    Dec 15, 2020 at 7:53 AM
  • Frank
    Are you sure this isn't an alias for Grant Cohn? You sure sound like him. You want to blame Shanahan for everything, don't you. You say his offense isn't good. Well, it's a simplified version of what they ran last year when they had a ton of playmakers. I didn't hear any complaining then. Coach isn't perfect...nobody is, just like sportswriters and any other profession you'd care to name. He's kept this team together by spit and bailing wire. He's had inconsistent QB play all season...he's been forced to play 2nd and 3rd stringers all season. It's much easier to coach starters, that's a big reason they're starters. It's much tougher to coach the underlings. One thing Lynch needs to do during the off-season is sign an experienced vet b/u. None of us know if Jimmy's going to be the guy or not...that's just the way it is. Like all the other teams, this will be a most challenging off-season in terms of keeping as many of his experienced vets while balancing the cap. He might bring in Beathard...because Mullens has become a TO machine. He's never used injuries as an excuse for losing...he's just dealt with it however he could. So would any good HC.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:15 PM
  • dbrower
    I remain indifferent to Garoppalo, and I remind everyone that Kaepernick was available when JG went down. Lynch and Shanahan's first mistake was telling Kap to take a hik, and never revisiting that.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:01 PM
    GILBERT BRINK is courageous to tell the truth ! Talk radio is flipping out and we can clearly see that Kyle Shanahan is a poor NFL coach. You knew we were toast when Jed York gave the outlandish extension to Kyle for losing the Super Bowl . He is clearly over his head , but who is going to tell him different ? Poor Jimmy G forced to play injured ( not hurt) , poor Lynch -What can he do ? Saleh is out of here and Sherman is going with him or retiring. Most of the team is going to turn over . Why no player development of offense ? Players are regressing . But on defense they are way coached up ala Verrett and Ward ala Saleh . The clock is ticking listen to Jerry Rice , etc. Wait and acknowledge the first time you hear the term HOT SEAT ! !
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:36 PM
  • t
    WOW - Finally the TRUTH ! Kyle is a great guy and incredible OC , but an unsatifactory
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:20 PM
  • TM
    Who is this clown! Shanahan's clock is not ticking and he is going nowhere unless he wants to!
    Dec 14, 2020 at 3:39 PM
  • Scott
    Dang Gilbert picking up where Grant left off. Devils advocate glass half empty Dude.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 3:13 PM
  • The Turk
    We coulda had Deshaun Watson instead of McGlinchey. We could still have Kaepernick. I see all the wife beaters and criminals (aldon, tyreek, karim) getting to play... and Kyle always forgets that there is a second half. Put the ginger in and just hand the ball to Mostert, is it that hard?
    Dec 14, 2020 at 2:59 PM
  • chris
    dude, 9rs have 22 players on injured reserve don't give me this injury's happen it's the NFL crap. 22 of our best players out
    Dec 14, 2020 at 2:33 PM
  • Francisco
    Completely disagree. All the injuries and with 3 games left STILL have an (absurdly unlikely) chance at the playoffs. If Mullins/Beathard played with decently, we would be in the playoffs. With a difficult schedule to boot.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 12:59 PM
  • BR
    I would hope this was cathartic for you writing this, but you've been doing this every week. This is a horrible take.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 12:43 PM
  • BW
    Defense only allowed 6 points. Wilson fumbled in FG range and the defense kept it from getting worse.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:21 AM
  • keith
    Um bro we had back QB for most of the games, the starter has played 1 game healthy, our wrs been hit with injuries, rb, lost our TE, our oline has not been healthy all year. U mention def what pass rush have they had since bosa been gone 0. You are clueless
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Joseph
    Give me another NFL team that loses three of their best players, and see how far they go. So, if Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are to go, who do you propose for new GM and HC?
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:35 AM
  • PS
    You mean the same genius D coordinator that left a practice squad CB all alone against Miami and let him get torched for a huge, tone setting early season loss? The reality is our defense is a paper tiger, we have been destroyed by mobile/top QB's and Saleh has zero answers. Shanahan has his issues, he's definitely stubborn with his play calling but these players run through walls for him. Also offense is a lot more complex and coordinated than defense, you can't just plug a guy in after six weeks off and run the offense smoothly. If anything I look at our GM who keeps adding injury prone players to this roster. At a certain point these injuries aren't all random; many of these guys got injured in college a lot or in the pros, but we keep hoping they will change their stripes with the Niners. This was a 'what can go wrong will go wrong season', here is hoping we lose out, get a top 10 pick to either strengthen our D (CB or DE) or find our QB of the future. That's the best outcome at this point. Keep all the coaches if we can (except Special teams who are nothing close to 'special').
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:33 AM
  • Patrick
    Typical "30 49ers experience". Last year riding high on the 49ers hype train when we were en route to the super bowl and now to this..
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:12 AM
  • Boise49er
    Once again, Gilbert Brink shows us that he shouldn’t be a football analyst.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:00 AM
  • Raul
    Bad comparison with the Steelers last year. The Steelers had a relatively healthy very good defense all year. The Steelers beat zero playoff bound teams. They beat Cincinnati twice. Except for Big Ben what was the major injury. Do you think the Steelers would have been 8-8 with TJ Watt out for 15 games, Haden missing 12 games, and Cam Heyward missing 15 games? The Steelers went 8-8 not 12-4. Also, in the Packers game they couldn't play people that hadn't tested positive, but were contact of someone that had a false positive. The offensive line is fairly healthy so Kyle deserves a lot of blame for that.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:50 AM
  • Nick
    I don't understand why you're a writer for a football team that you dislike so badly. Only two teams make it to the super bowl each year and this year it won't be us, it happens. The injuries were too much, but Shanahan never made it a point to us that as an excuse. Yes the offense looked terrible yesterday but I would be willing to bet if we had anyone under center besides Mullens we would have won, I have faith. You sound more like a SEA or KC fan, maybe you should go wrote for them
    Dec 14, 2020 at 9:45 AM
  • Todd Pyhtila
    Brink’s hit pieces are utter trash, the fact he gets space here makes me want to leave this sight entirely. In fact I think I will start looking for a new sight.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:51 AM
  • Graham
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:39 AM
  • Matt
    You are just another Troll.
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:28 AM

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