The 49ers are struggling this season, to say the least. Following a Super Bowl LIV appearance, the 49ers are 4-6 this season and their big names are riddled with injuries.
Former 49ers tackle Joey Staley spent the entirety of his 13-season career with the team so when it comes to figuring out what’s wrong, he might have a decent idea. As does his former teammate, offensive guard Adam Snyder.
“The easy fix is, get out of the season as healthy as you can and go back to the drawing board,” Snyder said last week on the "4th and Gold Podcast." “I mean, Kyle [Shanahan]’s going to figure it out. I’m sure Joe’s talked about the dynamic between John Lynch and Kyle, they have it figured out.”
Although Snyder mostly looked toward next season, he did consider a rookie wide receiver to be a real bright spot for the 49ers.
“They know who they want to draft, [Brandon] Aiyuk has shown himself the last couple weeks," Snyder said. "Probably need a tailback that’s healthy, that can stay healthy and then stay the course and just not let a down season, throw all these crazy changes into it -- they know the formula. Injuries are part of the game, but they can be a detriment to the team. If you look at it, how many guys do we have that have been hurt? Like star players -- a ton, right?”
“Mine is actually the exact same,” Staley explained.
Staley said the “excuse” of injuries can only be used for so long.
Aiyuk, left tackle Trent Williams, defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Jones and Jordan Willis, linebacker Joe Walker and tight end Daniel Helm all are on the COVID-19/reserve list heading into Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. It remains unknown who, if any, will return in time for the matchup.
This, of course, is in addition to losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle and defensive end Nick Bosa to injuries at various points this season.
“Once you’ve had so many [injuries] that we’ve had -- I say ‘we,’ but I’m not even a part of the team anymore -- that they’ve had this year, it’s not an excuse anymore,” Staley said.
Shanahan’s offense is an aggressive one, and in order to maintain such a complex offensive game, you need all the help you can get. It’s really dependent on specific parts being available. That could present a problem.
“He needs those guys to be available for everything else to work, so he needs like Raheem [Mostert] for a speed guy to get to the edge for the running game to work,” Staley explained. “He really needs that speed to the edge, he needs that so he can run his play-action scheme off of that.”
Mostert returned to practice Wednesday after being sidelined with an ankle sprain. That’s at least some good news.
Both Snyder and Staley do share one thing in common: They’re very excited to see Aiyuk's future. Staley said the rookie wide receiver for sure will “be a stud.” That’s if, he can stay off the COVID-19/reserve list.
Either way, it’ll be an interesting offseason for the 49ers who could benefit from possibly a new, younger running back to enhance that Shanahan game Staley mentioned … or even a new quarterback.
Hey, I’m not the only one to say it.