The 49ers played a game they had a decent shot to win today. They turned the ball over, they committed crushing penalties, and they wasted a fine defensive effort. Wash, rinse, repeat. What was different about today’s loss, is what the players said after it was over. In today’s Instant Reaction podcast, I explain why I think Kyle Shanahan could be facing his first real locker room issue as coach of the team.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Nick Mullens killed the team today. His three turnovers pushed his total up to 25 in his 16 career starts, a simply unacceptable number by any measure. While we as fans have had enough for quite some time, are we now starting to see the 49ers players say the same thing publicly?
Here was Trent Williams after the game:
“It’s extremely tough to win when you’re out-leveraged in the turnover margin. The league might be undefeated with a four to zero turnover ratio. That’s where it starts and that’s where it stops.”
Here was Fred Warner:
“It sucks to lose. I hate losing. We’ve got to change something. You’ve got to look at yourself first and foremost because you can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result.”
Now I want to say right away that Warner also put the responsibility for the game on the defenses’ shoulders, and he also said he expects the defense to force two to three turnovers a game.
But let’s be realistic. Except for the Bills game when Josh Allen just went nuts, this defense has been playing really well down the stretch. Why exactly would they need to change that?
In my opinion, I think the 49ers players have had enough of Nick Mullens. We already heard whispers of discontent from the wide receivers. Is it really that hard to believe the other players on the team aren’t feeling it as well?
(You can hear me explain more of my thinking in today’s Instant Reaction podcast)
Kyle said after the game that he replaced Mullens because the quarterback lost feeling in his arm. That would also be all the excuse he needed to make the switch to Beathard and avoid some potential unrest in the locker room this week.
Shanahan is smart enough to read the room, and he’s never lost the team in previous losing seasons. I don’t imagine he intends to start now.