Throughout the 49ers four game losing streak many people have wondered what the hell is going on with this team that’s caused them to look so rudderless at times. As you’ll hear in today’s 49ers in Five podcast, Nick Bosa may have given everyone a clue during his press conference yesterday.
“I think we’re missing Kittle out there with his vocal leadership, and Raheem was a really good vocal leader. Trent, another vocal guy. So yeah, it does help to have some guys that are more vocal and will get on other guys about certain things. But we’ve got to work with what we’ve got, and we definitely have enough leaders out there that we should be able to do our job on offense and defense.”
Leadership was a big topic of conversation after Joe Staley admitted his first choice to take that torch was DeForest Buckner. I wish someone had asked him who his next call went to once he found out Buckner wasn’t going to be an option, because leadership does matter.
Ideally that leadership comes from the team’s best players, but it just so happens that most of San Francisco’s best players aren’t vocal leaders. Nick Bosa is amazing, but no one would call him very vocal. Fred Warner is incredible, but he doesn’t strike me as someone that’s going to publicly call out a teammate that’s not working up to the standard of greatness.
As much criticism as we have lobbed Kyle Shanahan’s way, some of the onus for the team’s internal struggles does fall on the veteran players in the locker room. Yesterday, DeMeco Ryans said one of the reasons Deommodore Lenoir hasn’t been getting playing time is because, “He still has to continue to maintain that sense of urgency to go out and compete and be his best every week.” The veteran players in the locker room, especially at his position, need to take him under their wing and show him what it means to be a professional.
Someone also should take a look at why “urgency” has continued to be an issue for multiple 49ers players, across multiple seasons. Kyle Shanahan has publicly called out Deebo Samuel for showing a lack of urgency for coming into his second year out of shape. Brandon Aiyuk has been called out for not showing enough urgency this year. Now Ryans used that work again with Lenoir.
What is happening (or not happening) at 49ers headquarters that has everyone so relaxed?
Maybe it all goes back to what Nick Bosa was talking about. It could be that this particular group of players just doesn’t have the right balance in the locker room to create a real sense of accountability. The question is, how do they get that balance? It probably won’t happen this season, as people’s personalities aren’t going to magically change overnight. It could happen when Trey Lance becomes the starting quarterback, but unless he’s an absolute rock star, it’s hard for a 21 year old rookie quarterback to be the vocal leader of a team.
There is no one issue that explains all of San Francisco’s issues this season, but the first step to solving any problem is acknowledging that a problem exists. Perhaps Nick Bosa did that yesterday, and hopefully it’s an issue to team can address moving forward.
For more on the leadership issue as well as what DeMeco Ryans is doing to fix the problems at defensive back, check out today’s 49ers in Five podcast!