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5 takeaways from Cardinals-49ers: Niners playoff hopes drop to 20%

12 missed tackles for the defense Sunday

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers were dismantled by the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Arizona dominated the Niners despite missing their MVP-caliber quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray wasn't the only Cardinal to miss this game. Neither DeAndre Hopkins nor A.J. Green suited up Sunday, and starting running back, Chase Edmonds left the game in the first quarter.

Why does Kyle Shanahan get so many excuses again?

We look at my five takeaways below.

“Playoffs... are you kidding me?”

According to FiveThirtyEight, San Francisco has a 20% chance to make the playoffs with a predicted final record of 7-11. So the infamous Jim Mora quote “playoffs..are you kidding me?” is how the 49ers will be viewed for the rest of the season.

It felt like the boys were back in town with the win over the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Bears aren’t a great football team. But the Niners’ offense threatened to score on eight out of nine drives, with the last drive ending in victory formation.

This team is past soul searching. The excuses have run dry since there are none for this team having a 3-5 record. San Francisco’s playoff hopes will evaporate if they lose their ninth home game next week. But it’s not just any game; it is a primetime Monday Night Football showdown against the 7-2 Los Angeles Rams.

Niners offense continues to shoot themselves in the foot

The offensive struggles have been a hot topic all year. Turnovers, bad quarterback play, and not being able to convert on third down have been the narrative for this offense through eight games.

George Kittle returned from injured reserve after missing three games with a calf injury. Kittle had a 19-yard reception on San Francisco’s opening drive. However, he would give Arizona good field position with a costly fumble after an 18-yard catch on the first play of the 49ers’ second drive.

Two drives later, the gifted Brandon Aiyuk fumbled. The offense was finally starting to click with three successful plays in a row until Aiyuk’s mishap. Aiyuk’s dynamic catch was overshadowed by turning the ball over on the Cardinals' 7-yard line.

The score was 14-0 early in the second quarter at this point of the game, with punt, fumble, three-and-out, and fumble drives. I forgot to mention that the 49ers were favored up to 5.5 points entering the game. Lackluster offense going into Week 10 is embarrassing. Shanahan blamed the players instead of acknowledging that he was responsible for this. I mentioned that the offensive struggles are a true reflection of Shanahan in San Francisco’s horrid performance against the Colts.

Niners defense has worst game of the season

This season's trend of bad open field tackling continued on James Conner’s 13-yard first-quarter rushing touchdown. Emmanuel Moseley had an inexcusable missed tackle as Christian Kirk chose not to block him. Kirk sealed off Tavon Wilson, leaving Moseley as the last man standing. Moseley’s whiff seemed to be the opposite of their excellent week of practice.

Colt McCoy had a 17.9 EPA per play with an average depth of target of 3.5 yards. How does that happen? The 49ers' defense missed 12, yes, 12 tackles Sunday. There were egregious examples like Dre Kirkpatrick getting trucked for a touchdown. You can’t ignore Azeez Al-Shaair’s miss on 3rd & 18. I could go on and on, like when Josh Norman missed a tackle that led to a first down.

Why did the 49ers play their worst game of the season? Well, they were without six starters for Week 1. The backups played like...backups. You can hide one starter and maybe two that are sitting. It’s impossible to hide six — especially when three are in the secondary and two are along the defensive line.

The remaining schedule is pretty tough

According to Tankathon, the 49ers have the 14th toughest strength of schedule for the remainder of the season. They also list the Vikings and Seahawks as “easy” opponents. Most websites list the strength of the schedule based on opponents winning percentage.

The Rams, Titans, and Bengals are all primed to make the playoffs. As of now, the Falcons are somehow a contender in the NFC. When you add in Seattle and Minnesota, there’s a strong chance the 49ers are underdogs in six of their final eight games.

Based on what we’ve seen from the 49ers this season, they deserve to be underdogs. Inconsistences on both sides of the ball have haunted this team in every game and don’t have any evidence saying that’ll all of a sudden stop.

Is Kyle Shanahan on the hot seat now?

Shanahan’s safety as head coach has been widely covered over the last two seasons. The 49ers are 9-15 since the Super Bowl. They’ve lost 11 of 12 games at home. It’s now been over a year since the team won a game at home.

Is Shanahan going anywhere anytime soon? Of course not. He just received an extension through the year 2025. Jed York doesn’t want to go through the head coaching search once again. Based on his previous results, why would he?

Shanahan’s seat should be hot, though. This team lacks direction, a plan, and a vision. It takes more than designing plays to be a successful head coach. You have to manage talent, get your players prepared, and hold them accountable when making mistakes. Unfortunately, it seems as though Shanahan is allowing a lot and letting things slide that shouldn’t.

It’s your job to fix those issues. So, fix them.