John Madden once said that winning is the greatest deodorant for an NFL team. At 3-5, plenty stinks in San Francisco right now. On today’s Oh, Hey There! podcast, Javier Vega pinpointed the biggest problem he sees with the 49ers through nine weeks of the season.
“Where is this team’s leadership? They don’t have it. Where’s Fred [Warner] on this one? Fred, what’s up? Arik Armstead, where you at? The guys who got big money - where are you? They don’t have leadership on the field and on the sidelines. That’s Kyle [Shanahan], too...This team is void of leadership on both sides of the ball and in its coaching staff. Robert Saleh used to be the ying to Kyle Shanahan’s yang, and this is what it is. This Niners team is uber-talented, but has an accountability problem.”
Kyle Shanahan refusing to cut Josh Norman after his terrible play and boneheaded penalty this week certainly supports Vega’s claim about accountability.
The point about Robert Saleh is worth examining. We can all remember his incredible celebrations on the sidelines when things were going well. The Robert Saleh reaction shot became a staple of 49ers' games after a big defensive play. Is it fair to wonder if the 49ers lost some of their intensity once Saleh left to become the head coach of the New York Jets?
While this year’s defense isn’t as talented as the ones Robert Saleh oversaw while he was here, the issues do seem to go beyond simply a lack of talent on the field. There’s no swagger with this year’s defense. It always seems like teams are dictating what happens on the field to them instead of having to adjust to something the defense is doing against them.
There’s still half a season to go, and things could change, but the first step to growth is admitting that there’s a problem. Hopefully, the 49ers can admit this to themselves, and players in the locker room hold themselves accountable for what we’ve seen so far.
Hear the whole conversation in today’s Oh, Hey There! Podcast.
Other topics in today’s episode
- How the team’s decisions in the offseason are affecting them now
- Do we buy Kyle Shanahan’s explanation for not playing this year’s draft picks?
- How to adjust against the Rams