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Let’s argue: Kyle Shanahan is the reason the 49ers aren’t undefeated

Taking the most unpopular opinions about San Francisco

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We’ve done this twice now. Once, we argued for your opinion, and the other time we argued against it. Today, we’ll do the latter again. As injuries rack up for the San Francisco 49ers, it’s a perfect spot to tie that into the discussion. Let’s get into some of your hottest, most unpopular takes on the Niners.

@GoldBlooded44 We need Dee Ford more than most people seem to think

@JoeGilbert1992 The 49ers should try and trade dee ford after this year to clear up space for AA.

What makes sports so enjoyable is that you can ask ten people the same question and get ten different answers. To me, both of these can be true. Ford’s speed of the edge will be critical in the playoffs to get key stops on passing downs, especially when the opposing offense is in 49ers’ territory. Ford coming around the edge, opened things up for the other three rushers. The difference of winning in the playoffs is holding teams to a field goal and not letting them score six. A healthy Ford can be a difference-maker.

That said, it’s evident that Ford may never be fully healthy. His injuries have been lingering for the majority of his career. San Francisco took a gamble and bet Ford would be able to hold up for a season, and that hasn’t happened. Ford’s cap number will be $16 million in 2020. It’ll be difficult to trade him knowing he hasn’t played much this season unless he has a dominant playoff run. If the 49ers wait until after June 1, they eat $1.6 million in dead money, but save a whopping $14.5 million in cap savings. If I’m San Francisco, I try and replace Ford this offseason and use that money on Armstead.

@OilDoug Kyle Shanahan is the reason this team isn’t 13-0

On Thursday, we spoke to Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, and he was still talking about Shanahan’s Super Bowl play-calling. We did the same with the Ravens, and a few other games. It’s always easy to point a finger when a play doesn’t work. If the handful of trick plays Shanahan ran during the Saints game don’t work, we’re likely spending this week asking why he got “too cute.”

No, Shanahan isn’t the reason the 49ers have lost two games. He is a big reason why they have won 11, though. Baltimore is really good. It’s okay to admit that. San Francisco’s other loss swung on a sack-fumble and a missed kick at the end of the game. Both games the Niners gifted the opponent points, and that was the difference. The Niners are a great team, but not good enough to give a playoff team seven points and expect to overcome that. Who is?

@SpeeForThree I’ll never accept Sherman as one of us. He’ll always be a Seahawk to me.

On a macro, big-picture scale, I get where you are coming from. Sherman was with Seattle all of those years, and you’ve been trained to hate the man. Sherman brought leadership and accountability to the 49ers. When you hear him speak, you can tell he’s all in with San Francisco. After the Cardinals win on Halloween, I’ve never seen a player so upset after a victory. Sherman knew the defense didn’t play up to their standards, but most importantly, he took the blame. That’s what leaders do. He’s constantly praising his teammates and sticking up for them, not to mention toughing it out through injuries.

Sherman was the 49ers’ nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year. In November, Sherman helped raise enough money for a youth football team from Compton, where he’s from, raise enough money to participate in a national tournament in Florida. He donated 5,000, but he’s been hands-on with helping so many people. Sherman has been recognized for helping restock shelves at three food banks in Washington. Sherman donated $27,000 to cover student lunch debts at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara and Tacoma Public Schools District.

And you don’t like him because he played for another team? Come on.

@33643pts Healthy 2019 49ers > 2012 49ers

Uh oh. Nostalgia is everything. Offensively, the 2012 49ers were nine percentage points better than this years version, per DVOA. The ‘12 team was better against the pass slightly, but significantly better on the ground. If I had to narrow it down to three stats, are you moving the ball, are you scoring, and are your drives successful. This year, the 49ers are averaging 33.5 yards per drive (12th), 2.49 points per drive (3rd), 72% drive success rate (11th). In 2012, San Francisco averaged 32.7 yards per drive, 2.16 points per drive, and were successful on 70.9% of their drives. The game has obviously changed, but, by those numbers, this years offense is slightly better.

2012’s run defense was significantly better, but the pass defense doesn’t hold a candle to this year’s team. 2012 was predicated on physicality on both sides of the ball. There are no Mike Iupati’s or Justin Smith’s on this year’s team. 2019’s team is predicated on speed and smarts, which is perfect for today’s NFL. The running backs could be a relay team in track and field. The contrast in rosters is fun to look at. That ‘12 team’s front seven was a cheat code. I feel like we were robbed this year due to health.

@MFE80 Signing Sanders to a new deal would be bad as soon as the ink is dry.

This is one of the most intriguing storylines heading into the offseason. Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent once the season ends. The 49ers will likely bring him back, but what will the contract look like? The Niners have always written team-friendly contracts so they can get out of the deal if things aren’t working out, and that should remain the same with Sanders. He’s been great on and off the field.

I can see the hesitation, knowing that you could run into possible injuries, and you don’t want to allocate money to an aging receiver who probably will play no more than three years maximum. But there is an emotional side to football that we often ignore, and Sanders fit in the locker room, and what he brings to the table will be worth the deal he receives.