The San Francisco 49ers lost an ugly one on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, and frustrations started to boil over. There was jawing at different times, and considering how the first two months of the season have gone, it was not entirely surprising to see people snapping at each other. There was not much in the way of pushing and shoving, but there was plenty of attitude.
Kyle Shanahan is facing plenty of challenges in his first year as head coach, and it makes sense he’d have to deal with some team frustrations. After the game, Shanahan said he had not seen the jawing. On Monday, media asked some follow-up questions about. He was initially asked if he found out anything about it, and if there was anything to be concerned with moving forward.
“I didn't see it, like I said, but I talked to our coaches first about it who told me some of the stuff you were talking about, talked to some of the players also. A lot of what it sounded to me like was kind of typical stuff, when you are getting embarrassed like we were. Guys do get frustrated. And I do think we've got a lot of guys, just speaking with them, we’ve got a lot of passion. Guys want to win as much as you possibly can. And when that stuff does happen, I've been on a lot of sidelines before that you see that type of stuff. But, that by no means is that stuff that I want. I'm looking for guys to make differences on the field. And what I did was happy with what I did hear from the guys that there were times that they were doing that stuff, but guys recovered from it. Guys were able to call each other up, a few players addressed it, got guys to cool down a little bit, and they went back and finished their jobs. I was glad they recovered from it. Talking to them today, there were no big issues, but that's definitely stuff that I'm looking for. I always say I see better than I hear. And I want, you find out about a lot of people through adversity. It doesn't mean everyone's going to be perfect, but it's very important to me the type of people that we have in our locker room, the type of leaders we have in the locker room, how they respond to situations like this.”
Matt Barrows raised a good point that I think most of you probably recognize. The team is getting younger and younger, and that means less veteran leadership. The team has players it is counting on to develop into cornerstone players, but they also need players that can take on the leadership mantel that is missing. You get rid of guys like NaVorro Bowman, you not only have to replace talent, you have to replace the leadership.
Part of this season is about finding cornerstone players, and also figuring out which players won’t fit in. A guy like DeForest Buckner is looking like a cornerstone defensive lineman, but will he also be a leader for the defense? These are some of the questions John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan will be looking to get answered over the remaining nine weeks.