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49ers overreactions: Has Shanahan lost his coaching touch?

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Kyle Shanahan

Let’s not even take a look at the NFC playoff picture, OK?

We do not want to create any false sense of hope for the 49ers’ fan base.

After all, the 49ers have lost four consecutive games. And before we even begin to look at the big picture and the odds of the 49ers making it into the postseason, the team has to first show the capability of winning a game — just one game — to get out of this month-plus hydroplane.

(So, we will not mention in this space that the 49ers are only one game behind in the race for the last wild-card spot with 11 weeks remaining in the season.)

And, with that, let’s loft this installment of 49ers Overreactions far down the field and see if we can draw another penalty on the defensive backfield:

Overreaction? No.

I have no idea where to begin.

Offense, defense, special teams, coaching, personnel ... there is not enough time in the day to hit every topic that concerns 49ers fans.

Overreaction? Yes.

I cannot speak for others, but I know for sure there is not 100 percent agreement that Kyle Shanahan is a bad coach.

I, for one, can tell you that I think he is one of the better coaches I have covered during my time around the organization.

I can also tell you that I don’t think he is having a good season.

Shanahan pushes the buttons, and the buttons have simply not been working during this four-game losing streak.

 

Any time something does not work, the easiest thing in the world to do is to second-guess the strategy.

“That play failed, so why didn’t they do something different?”

There are examples from Sunday night when the ball went one place, and another receiver in the pattern was running uncovered down the field. Shanahan still called the play that got someone wide open. There was one play that made the rounds on social media on which Mohamed Sanu had no defender around him as he ran down the middle of the field.

Of course, there is no reason to give anyone credit for a play that did not happen. That's not how this works.

I do not get the sense there is anything amiss with the organization in addition to the losing.

This was going to be a difficult situation to navigate with a veteran quarterback remaining as the starter while the rookie is groomed to eventually take over. It will be particularly interesting to see the dynamics at work for the remainder of the season if the struggles continue.

I’ve seen bad. And this is not there, yet.

The final year of Jim Harbaugh was the worst locker room I’ve been around. Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly were not able to build the coaching staffs or systems to be successful in the NFL.

This feels a lot different than those situations.

Shanahan is not inept. And his book with the 49ers is nowhere near its conclusion. His time with the 49ers will ultimately be judged on how the team plays in the seasons after Trey Lance takes over.

Overreaction? No.

Shanahan’s statement Monday that Garoppolo would start against the Chicago Bears was probably not met with wide approval.

I stated on 49ers Talk and in a column that Lance should take over as the starter once he’s healthy.

The problem, of course, is that Lance has not practiced in two weeks due to a left knee sprain.

I fully understand why there was no change announced at quarterback for this week. Lance should be elevated at a time when he is healthy, practiced and has his best chance at success. This week is not that week, as the 49ers hope he can take part in limited practice Wednesday.

Shanahan said that he did not go into the Colts game thinking Garoppolo was one bad game away from losing his starting job.

Now, I think he should be there.

Overreaction? Yes, but ...

You might be correct. But we will probably not know for years.

The 49ers had the No. 12 overall draft pick. They knew they wanted to take a quarterback to replace Garoppolo. They could not get up to No. 1 or 2. And they did not want to sit back and let 10 more teams determine which quarterback fell to them at No. 12.

 

Therefore, they made the decision to trade their first-round picks in the next two drafts (and a third) to control their own destiny. I have no problem with that.

The idea was never that the quarterback chosen No. 3 overall was going to push the team over the top in 2021. No, this trade was made for the next decade.

The only proven way to sustain success in the NFL is with great play at quarterback. Teams can jump up and have a good season here and there, but only teams with Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks are able to contend every season.

The 49ers swung for the fence, hoping to get that kind of franchise-directing talent with Lance.

They wanted the third QB selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, not a consolation prize.

Overreaction? Yes.

The main path for the 49ers to get better is with a dynamic, playmaker at the most important position in all of sports.

See above.

Overreaction? No.

Nobody is unexpendable. For the right price, sure, anyone could be traded.

But tight end George Kittle is signed through the 2025 season. He has dealt with injuries, but he is expected back at some point shortly after this week for the final two months of the season.

RELATED: Staley thinks it might be time for Lance to take over at QB

Kittle is such a big part of what the 49ers want to do on offense. He and Deebo Samuel are far-and-away the two best options in the passing game. And Kittle is a key force as a blocker in the run game.

So while the 49ers should not have anyone on the roster who is untouchable, the price in return for Kittle would have to be too good to pass up. 

Overreaction? Yes.

Overall, Robert Saleh did a fine job as defensive coordinator during his time with the 49ers. But I do not believe the 49ers have fallen off dramatically because of DeMeco Ryans as the coordinator.

I’m assuming you’re referring to the pass interference penalties. The 49ers have given up 250 yards with 11 pass-interference penalties. (Three other calls were declined or offsetting.)

Now, let’s look at the players responsible for those 14 flags:

Josh Norman (5)

Emmanuel Moseley (3)

Deommodore Lenoir (2)

Jaquiski Tartt (1)

K’Waun Williams (1)

Fred Warner (1)

Dre Kirkpatrick (1)

Dontae Johnson (1)

Aside from Lenoir, a rookie, these penalties were committed by veteran players. Norman is a 10-year veteran who joined the 49ers after training camp.

My point is that these players have been doing this long enough that it's not the coaching. These mistakes are on them, individually.

Ryans’ defense looked good against Seattle and Arizona in back-to-back weeks. The 49ers' defense played well enough to come out of those games with victories.

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