There has been no shortage of criticism of Kyle Shanahan in recent weeks, and the NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger jumped on the pile during his latest appearance on 95.7 The Game this week.
“I would say, in a word, the whole operation looks stale. It just looks stale. I don’t see anything new or creative. I know Kliff [Kingsbury] a lot better than I know Kyle, I know how Kliff thinks, I know the formations that he comes up with and the ideas - it never stops. Now I’m not saying Kyle can’t do that or doesn’t do that, I’m just saying the operation looks stale right now. That’s how the sideline looks. That’s why they keep falling behind.
To me, and I’ve been saying it for weeks, they look like a team that’s just waiting for something good to happen. You could wait until February for something good to happen and ain’t nothing happening. You've got to make this stuff happen...Once you can get that belief going, you can stir it up, but I just think the operation looks stale and they’re just waiting around for something good to happen.”
As I said in today’s 49ers in Five podcast, I disagree that the offense itself is stale. An offense doesn’t go stale in a week, and it certainly looked fine when they scored 33 points against the Bears two weeks ago. They had a streak of seven straight plays in that Bears game with either a first down or a touchdown. That’s plenty fresh.
Where I think Baldinger has a point, however, is that I do think there is an over-arching feeling on the 49ers sideline. It’s just not the one he described. The players aren’t waiting for something good to happen. They’re dreading that something bad is about to happen. The 49ers have given the ball away 14 times this season, tied for fifth-most in the league. They have a -44 turnover differential under Kyle Shanahan. Why wouldn’t they expect something bad to happen at this point?
Whatever the problems are, the time left to fix them is quickly running out. Hopefully, an extra day to prepare for a team they’ve had a lot of success against recently will lead to a victory, but it sure doesn’t look like it right now.