When you lose to Colt McCoy at home, you are going to face criticism. During Monday’s conference call, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, “I know we’re a 3-5 team right now. I believe that we should be a better team than that record, and I know that starts with me.”
Well, Kyle, you have control over the 53-man roster. It has to start with you. After one question, Shanahan went out of his way to let the local media know that he has to get better:
“Failure of execution starts with me. When plays don’t work, no matter how it happens, it starts with the coaches. There’s tons of things that I can do better, so don’t get misinterpreted by that at all because that’s not even close to what I’m saying. Whether you’re running the ball or whether you’re throwing the ball, coaching your guys to execute a play, starts with coaching and then it leads to playing. So that goes hand in hand.”
It doesn’t always feel like Shanahan takes accountability publicly, so that was refreshing to hear. Unfortunately, the mental — Josh Norman committed his seventh penalty in six games — and physical mistakes (ten missed tackles and multiple drops on offense) continue to cost the 49ers at the most inopportune times.
Shanahan said he was “very disappointed” during the game and was equally as disappointed watching the film. Here’s his answer about giving up explosive plays on defense:
Just going through the film, it was frustrating, a lot of those explosives we gave up on defense going back. Going back through all the runs and stuff and there’s three in particular that I think we gave up 69 yards on three runs.
Two that got to the corners and they’ve got to make those tackles and one we got out of a gap in a zone read they hit right up the middle for about 30. Take away those three runs and we held them 2.5 a carry on 35 carries, but those three runs hurt us.
Uhh, that’s now how this works. “If you take away their good plays, they were bad” is one way to look at Sunday’s result. The 49ers gave up their longest rushing play of the season, I believe, against the Cardinals. You can thank Azeez Al-Shaair for fitting into the wrong gap, Talanoa Hufanaga being too slow coming downhill, and Dre Kirkpatrick finding out the hard way what happens when you stop your feet when you attempt to tackle.
Top-five most explosive offenses in the NFL through the air: Raiders, Rams, Bucs, Cardinals, and Ravens. Top-five most explosive offenses on the ground: Browns, Eagles, Colts, Ravens, Vikings.
How do you score in the NFL? By having explosive plays. You can’t take that away and say, “well, we did our job on the other plays.” Here’s more from Shanahan on some of the team’s mistakes:
And looking at those third-and-longs, the third-and-18 where [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] missed that tackle to get them off the field and then followed up by that third-and-nine, getting that unfortunate personal foul called that they called on [DL Arik] Armstead and then hit us with a double pass the next play. Got us really behind the eight ball and our offense had an opportunity, I believe, to score a lot of points and we didn’t get that done. Turning it over three times to their zero, you would have told me they got 40 runs. Turned it over zero times. We turned it over three times and only got 11. I think that says a lot.”
The penalty on Armstead seemed straightforward. Al-Shaair’s missed tackle was a backbreaker. How is there only one player on the entire side of the field? The tackling is a mentality. The Cardinals had a couple of tough-nosed runs, and it didn’t look like the 49ers wanted anything to do with their physicality.
What has Norman done to argue and push away teammates? Or go in the face of an opponent's head coach? What equity has he built in the locker room to go from a hot head to return to practice Wednesday? It all comes back to leadership.
Norman was never going to listen to Al-Shaair or Tavon Wilson. In his head, and judging by his actions, he didn’t have to. There’s no Richard Sherman in the locker room to talk Norman off the ledge of committing a boneheaded penalty.
Not having a leader continues to cost the 49ers.