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49ers in Five: Steve Young says the team doesn’t have any grit

Everything you need to know in five minutes

In today’s 49ers in Five podcast, we took a listen to Steve Young’s latest appearance on KNBR. During the interview, Young stated what he thinks is lacking in the 49ers’ locker room right now:

“When I keep talking about a locker room, I want to make sure people understand what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a group of...certain personalities that are made up of guys that are, ‘over my dead body’ kind of guys. The guys that have the grit, that have the moral authority to turn at any time, as a group or individually, to the rest of the 50 guys and declare the truth. Or the moment. Or something that doesn’t even necessarily have to be said. Different groups we had that I was playing with, a lot of times it was just a look. Like, ‘Hey. Yeah. Now.’”

The person that Young is talking about definitely isn’t in the locker room right now. In order to that guy, I believe you’ve got to have three things: You’ve got to be vocal, you’ve got to kick ass, and you’ve got to be out there every week.

The 49ers have a lot of guys who have one or two of those things, but they don’t have one with all three.

George Kittle is vocal, and he kicks ass, but he’s always hurt.

Fred Warner kicks ass and is always out there, but he’s not vocal.

Kyle Juszczyk is vocal and usually out there, but he doesn’t really get the chance to kick that much ass because he’s a fullback.

Until you get a guy that is all three, I’m not sure anyone does have the “moral authority,” as Steve put it, to speak the truth. Maybe that’s part of the reason they had to have their general manager give a pep talk before the Bears game.

The other thing you have to consider is whether Kyle Shanahan’s message is getting tuned out. The team does seem to be making the same dumb mistakes every single week. How many times have we seen the team come out flat in the first half this year? We’ve seen stupid penalties, and blown assignments frequently in 2021. Those are the classic signs of a team that has stopped listening to what they’re being told. Even highly successful coaches have had problems reaching players deep into their tenures. After four and a half mostly losing seasons, it’s fair to wonder if the same is happening to Kyle Shanahan.