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Let’s argue: Taking a look at the most unpopular 49ers take through five games

We’re back with a new edition of ‘Let’s argue,’ where we take a look at Saleh, Shanahan, Buckner, the NFC West, and if the Niners are a rebuilding team.

Miami Dolphins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Last season, we did a weekly segment called “Let’s argue,” where we asked San Francisco 49ers their most unpopular thoughts on the team and decided how true they were. We’re back a little bit earlier this season thanks to an underwhelming record by the Niners. Without further ado, let’s discuss your takes.

Robert Saleh, overall, is coaching pretty well outside of leaving Brian Allen in and giving him no help. Through 5 weeks, the 49ers are the 10th ranked defense in DVOA without Sherman, Bosa, Ford, Moseley, etc. - Rich

As Sunday was the second time in five games where the 49ers played a talented receiver, the schedule has helped. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Tarvarius Moore isn’t on the field over Jamar Taylor since Moore took reps at nickel during training camp and played well there. Also, that position, in this defense, is essentially a safety.

With that said, Saleh has the defense prepared. He made the Eagles play left-handed and took away what Philadelphia wanted to do. It won’t be easy, but Saleh will have to continue to make teams uncomfortable moving forward. The 49ers no longer have a pass rusher that can end drives for them, and Saleh has done a great job of manufacturing pressure to make quarterbacks uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t bothered by that pressure. The same cannot be said for Jared Goff. Fans want to give up on every coach and player after one bad outing, but Saleh has not coached poorly this season.

Kyle Shanahan doesn’t have anyone to tell him when he’s wrong. When you’re everyone’s boss, no one tells you when you’re making a mistake. - Rob

I took this job because I’m an unapologetic Kyle Shanahan stan. I think he’s the greatest offensive mind in the sport, but Rob is on the money here, and it shows. Too often, Shanahan refuses to swallow his pride and get out of his own way. We’ve seen it with specific draft picks, but I’ll use Ahkello Witherspoon as an example. Kyle has been as harsh, if not harsher, on Spoon than on Dante Pettis. This past Sunday is a great example.

Witherspoon was healthy enough to play, but Shanahan refused to put him in the game. This “feud” dates back to 2018. Shanahan has gone out of his way to call out Witherspoon, oftentimes in front of teammates. Against the Dolphins, league spies said that Witherspoon was healthy enough to play, but Kyle wouldn’t let him go in. The “hamstring” was a cover up for Witherspoon being benched. It took Brian Allen getting torched in coverage for Shanahan to acknowledge putting Spoon in the game. Ahkello had to go to Saleh begging, pleading to go in the game, but Saleh had to get Shanahan’s approval. I’m not sure who the person is, but someone has to save Kyle from himself in these situations.

49ers are a rebuilding team. Need minimum 4 new OL starters, entire secondary is FAs, likely need an EDGE because Ford’s deal is untenable ... And then there’s the QB conundrum. It can be a quick rebuild but still a rebuild. - Levin

Dang. A rebuild following a Super Bowl appearance where you went 13-3 and ran through the NFC? Four new starters are steep. Trent Williams has played well this season, and I know that’s not going to be a popular take. Weston Richburg being out has been a big blow. Daniel Brunskill isn’t a guard. Perhaps the Niners should try him at tackle again, where he excelled last season.

Levin’s not wrong about needing an edge rusher. Jimmie Ward isn’t going anywhere, but those same league spies told me that the team tried to move Jaquiski Tartt during training camp, but teams only offered a fifth-rounder. Tartt will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Add safety to the list of needs, and it’s unlikely we see Richard Sherman anytime soon. Pair that with K’Wuan Williams and Jason Verrett being free agents next offseason and the 49ers will have their hands full to fill holes. Those lack of draft picks from the Emmanuel Sanders and Dee Ford trades are coming back to bite the team in the you know what. Who could have possibly seen this coming? That’s before we even talk about what to do at quarterback.

They go 0-6 in the NFC West just a year after winning the division. - John

Oh boy. Oddly enough, I give the 49ers a good shot to win Sunday against the Rams. The results haven’t been great, and there is no hiding from the poor execution, but San Francisco is not a bad team, and there is still far more talent on this roster than the majority of teams in the NFL. Throw out the betting lines when it comes to divisional games. They are all coin flips. Look no further than last week when the Raiders, who were 11.5-point underdogs, beat the Chiefs by eight points. The Giants were also double-digit underdogs and lost to the Cowboys by three points.

Based on how the Niners roster is constructed, they’re set up to beat the NFC West teams. I doubt we see them go 5-1, but it’s far more likely San Francisco goes 3-3 than 0-6. If the team does go winless in the division, then a rebuild is on the way.

DeForest Buckner was by far the best player on the team, and management was too arrogant to realize it, thereby cutting short a dynasty and ruining the immediate future of the franchise. - AJ

It does seem that Buckner was slightly undervalued, but it feels like hindsight to say that the 49ers should have kept him now. DeForest wanted Aaron Donald money, and that wasn’t going to happen with the Niners. The team had to choose between Buckner or extending Armstead and Kittle. There is an alternate universe where San Francisco holds onto Buckner and deals Kittle, but when you can get the No. 13 overall pick for a player, that makes the decision easier and opens up a ton of cap space in the now and the future.

Buckner is PFF’s seventh-highest graded interior defensive lineman. He’s third in pressures, second in QB hits, and first in run stops. He’s a dominant force, but we all knew that. If Javon Kinlaw had produced anywhere near that type of production, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Through five games, Kinlaw has zero sacks and two QB hits. That makes the immediate loss of Buckner sting, but the decision to move on from Buck was always a long-term move.