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Shanahan on the 49ers WR drops: You can’t expect to win many games when you’re like that

Shanahan did not blame Deebo’s injury as the reason why the 49ers lost

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Before Week 14, San Francisco had one of the best drop rates in the NFL, and only 11 total drops on the season. On Sunday, the Niners had five drops. Kendrick Bourne had two, Brandon Aiyuk had one, and Jordan Reed and Jeff Wilson Jr. both added drops.

Kyle Shanahan was asked how he deals with this frustration after the game:

“We had a bad day with that. It wasn’t one person. Seemed like a number of them. That was the frustrating thing today. No matter what happened or what kept going, whether it was a bad call or when there was an open guy, whether it was a missed throw or when it wasn’t, I thought we had several more drops than we usually have. Then I thought we struggled with some big penalties, too. So, we were not clean today offensively, and regardless, I think we would have found a way to win if we don’t turn the ball over. So, there were several things today, just from an execution standpoint that I’ve got to be very hard on this week, and you can’t expect to win many games when you’re like that.”

Production outside of Aiyuk has been difficult to come by for the 49ers at receiver. Consistent production, anyway. The 49ers needed someone to step up in Deebo’s absence, and that didn’t happen.

Aiyuk on Sunday: 69 yards after the catch on ten receptions

The eight other pass-catchers: 62 yards after the catch on 15 receptions.

Aiyuk has a chance to break Jerry Rice’s 49ers rookie receiving record. Aiyuk has 660 receiving yards for three games to play and has averaged a hair under 100 yards per game over his last five games. Rice’s record is 927 yards. Aiyuk is on pace for 957 yards. I’m going to forgive Aiyuk for a couple of drops during the past two weeks.

After the game, Shanahan said this about how big an impact missing Samuel was: Yeah, pretty big. We felt pretty big about Deebo from that first play on, and then we lost a pretty big element, but it’s not why we lost today. With the way our defense played, obviously, Deebo’s a huge part of us and would have helped a ton, but no, that wasn’t why we lost.”

Samuel’s nine-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage would wind up as his only play. When you lose a Mack truck in human form, your entire gameplan goes out of the window. Now you have Bourne running routes you normally wouldn’t use him on. On the first drive, Bourne was running a deep route on a play. He’s been targeted on four passes over 20 yards all season.

The 49ers' offense had plenty of opportunities to score, and I don’t want to paint the picture as if the offense lost because Samuel wasn’t on the field. That’s not true. That doesn’t mean a guy like Samuel takes the pressure off a backup QB or a struggling offense. He helps everything from the number of RPOs the 49ers run to their misdirection. If Samuel can’t play the rest of the season, this offense will look similar to the one on Sunday, which is far from a compliment.