After every loss, Kyle Shanahan trots up to the podium after the game and lists off the mistakes that the 49ers committed during the game that he believed led to the loss.
It’ll usually range from penalties to third-down execution to missed tackling to drops to missed throws to turnovers.
It makes sense, right? When the team loses, usually it’s pretty easy to point to why they lose and try to correct that headed into the following week.
What if the mistakes differ from loss to loss, but they continue to happen, and it prevents them from winning football games?
On Sunday, Shanahan stepped up to the post-game podium and lamented the 49ers’ defensive effort (giving up two big third downs) and the 49ers’ red-zone offense (putting up three field goals instead of three touchdowns).
Every week, it seems to be something new with this 49ers’ team. Last week, the defense couldn’t stop the Falcons’ rushing attack, and the offense had some pivotal drops. In the loss against the Broncos, the 49ers’ offense couldn’t move the ball all game long.
This week, the 49ers’ defense gave up 9.1 yards per play (second-highest by a team this season) while committing eight costly penalties that gave the Chiefs chance after chance to bury them.
The last two weeks are the first time I’ve wondered if the 49ers have a coaching problem in the Kyle Shanahan era. In their four losses this season, they’ve consistently found a different way to beat themselves. You can hold the players accountable every Monday, but ultimately if it’s a different unit that is flawed, then the responsibility has to fall on the coaching staff.
Look at the two teams that played on Sunday. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers never seemed to have control of that game (after the first quarter), throwing a back-breaking end-of-half interception, giving up big play after big play, and committing penalty after penalty.
Meanwhile, Andy Reid’s Chiefs seemed on their P’s and Q’s from the get-go, and even though they committed a few mistakes, they never seemed to waver from their game plan. All of their players executed on both sides of the ball, and they hammered the 49ers en route to a 44-23 stomping.
I also think the 49ers have a philosophical problem with the construction and mindset of their team. They’re currently built to win one way: run the ball, play exceptional defense, hit explosive plays, and play complementary offense.
When Kyle Shanahan (and his 49ers) don’t have control of the game flow, they seem to have no identity on both sides of the ball. In the last two weeks, opponents have come out and punched the 49ers in the mouth, and they haven’t responded well.
Atlanta jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and the currently-constructed 49ers couldn’t play from behind. Kansas City was throwing haymakers after falling behind 10-0, but the 49ers’ offense couldn’t keep up tit-for-tat with Patrick Mahomes in a shootout.
When the 49ers play their brand of football — bruising, physical, run-heavy, defense-oriented — they’re as good as anyone in the NFL. When things veer off that script, this season’s 49ers’ team tends to wilt under the pressure.
It hasn’t quite gotten to the point where I think the 49ers should consider a coaching change because I still believe in what Kyle Shanahan and DeMeco Ryans are trying to implement in San Francisco. That being said, the last two weeks have been as ugly of a stretch for these two men since they joined forces last season.