The 49ers have their backs against the wall after losing three consecutive games. The frustrating part that has to sting is knowing there were chances to win all of them.
San Francisco is now preparing for an underrated Indianapolis Colts offense. Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is not getting recognition for playing at a high level. As a result, San Francisco needs to treat this game like the most crucial game of the season to avoid losing four in a row.
Trent Williams addressed the media Monday and told them, “there is no panic from us.” There are 11 games left, so Williams somewhat has a point. Rob Guerrera made a valid point at the end of his column as he spoke about a new level of urgency. San Francisco needs to embody that determination and look like a more refined team Sunday.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the 49ers currently have a 34% chance to make the playoffs. That number will drastically drop if the Niners lose this game.
With that being said, you have to ask, “why are the 49ers in this predicament?” I have been harsh on the players dating back to training camp. Conversely, it is time to put more responsibility on the front office. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have continued to make questionable moves through their 49er tenure.
Putting Brandon Aiyuk in the doghouse and constantly calling him out is not the answer. Aiyuk has made dynamic plays damn near every time he has gotten the ball. Lynch and Shanahan have talked about their high hopes of him but continue to drag his name through the mud. What has Lynch or Shanahan done in their Niner tenure to feel comfortable enough to call him out frequently?
The 2020 season was murky because of the slew of injuries. That continued in the off-season when they lost Jeff Wilson Jr and Tarvarius Moore. They lost three of their top talents on the roster (Jason Verrett, Raheem Mostert, and George Kittle) this year. Kittle will return, but it’s frustrating to see him sidelined regularly.
I’m not anti-Shanahan nor do I think he is on the hot seat. Even though, I do think the seat should at least be a little warm. Not having a competent quarterback for five seasons is Lynch and Shanahan’s fault. This is the most talent Shanahan has had on offense, yet he has led them to 23.4 ppg (17th in the NFL.) It must be noted that teams ranked ninth through 17 are only ahead by a margin of three points, but every point counts! Points have been left off the board from stagnant drives, poor execution, and penalties. Which directly reflects Kyle Shanahan’s coaching.
Lynch has been an ok general manager in his five seasons with the 49ers. However, his drafting and contract distribution could be questioned. His draft misses started in 2017 when he opted to draft Solomon Thomas instead of the franchise quarterback they needed. Coincidently it is the same year Lynch traded for Jimmy Garoppolo midseason. Garoppolo had a hot start in San Francisco as he won five straight games. Lynch would reward him with a record-setting contract two months after his fifth game as a Niner.
Jerick McKinnon was another questionable signing as he was a back-up for the Minnesota Vikings. Lynch initially gave McKinnon a four-year, $30 million contract with minor production in Minnesota. Mckinnon would go on to tear his ACL in practice and miss the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
He took a pay cut in 2020 and finally contributed because of the detrimental injuries. Mckinnon made over $17 million and only produced 572 yards from scrimmage in his Niner tenure.
These are just two examples of Lynch’s misses. His draft selections have paid off more in the later rounds. Dante Pettis and Jalen Hurd are both Day 2 misses. DeForest Buckner was Trent Baalke’s best draft pick of his horrid 49er general manager tenure. He was a top-10 selection that made an impact from day one. Be that as it may, Lynch didn’t budge in offering anything close to what Buckner desired. If the 49ers wanted to keep Buckner they would have. Instead, they opted to trade a Hall of Fame-caliber player.
I’m still not a fan of the trade, but the 49ers got good value for Buckner. The 49ers received the 13th pick in the 2020 draft and ended up trading down one spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. San Francisco drafted Javon Kinlaw (14th) to replace Buckner and he flashed in 2020. Kinlaw is an impressive athlete. His availability could be a concern in the future though. Shanahan told reporters that Kinlaw’s knee was a “major concern” Wednesday. His injuries date back to college as several teams flagged both of Kinlaw’s knees as at a risk of arthritis. Lynch was not phased by it and said “We got to a point to where we were comfortable there. We liked the player so much.”
49er fans are still waiting on game reps from Ambry Thomas and Aaron banks. Trey Sermon looked like another miss after he was a healthy scratch in Week 1. The fact that Shanahan didn’t want to hand him the ball against the Packers brought more questions about why he was drafted. Sermon has progressed, but this team needs Jeff Wilson Jr. badly.
If the 49ers miss the playoffs, there will be serious questions that need to be answered. I’m not advocating for either to be fired. However, the expectations were high as they were set after Lynch and Shanahan went on their 2019 Super Bowl run. There are no excuses for San Francisco to miss the playoffs.
The Colts are not an easy opponent. San Francisco must win this game, or the fans could take a real heel turn. The players have to step up, but are they being put in a position to win with this front office?
Should Jed York fire John Lynch if the 49ers miss the playoffs?
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