On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs steamrolled the San Francisco 49ers 44-23 in a playoff atmosphere at Levi’s Stadium. Kyle Shanahan and DeMeco Ryans' rough days will move this team in two ways; the 49ers could be motivated or spiritless with a hungry Los Angeles Rams team up next week.
Shanahan is 1-30 when trailing 3+ points in the fourth quarter
Shanahan’s offense has been up and down, and the cause has varied each game. Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo’s miscues, blown assignments by the offensive line, receivers were dropping the ball, or Shanahan tucking his tail with a lead.
San Francisco’s offense continued to be a rollercoaster against the Chiefs. Garoppolo’s off-target throws came at crucial times. And it felt like Mike McGlinchey couldn’t block a Twitter user as the Chiefs pass-rushers had their way.
Shanahan failed to get his offensive juices going. His shameful 1-30 record when trailing 3+ points in the fourth quarter disputes his play-calling wizardry.
Defense bends and breaks
The national media will echo Ryans’ 36 points allowed in the Niner’s two recent bouts. Andy Reid’s pass-catchers separated from the 49ers’ press-man coverage all game. Ryans’ defense continued to be in conflict as receivers sat in zones.
Patrick Mahomes showed what having an above-average quarterback can do for your offense. This 49er’s defense gave up at least five passing plays of 18 yards or more. They had no answer as they gave up the second-highest yards per play (9.1) by a Niners defense since 1964, per ESPN Stats and Info.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 16-yard rushing touchdown felt like a 40-yard gain since he nearly went untouched. The defensive line needs Arik Armstead back badly. The Niners’ defense gave up three runs of 16 yards or more. I remember the times when a nine-yard gain felt like it was too much. The Niners must regain their identity of stopping the run to stay afloat as an elite defense.
Jerick McKinnon’s 34-yard gain on 3rd and 20 near the end of the third quarter changed the game. The Chiefs went up 12 points, and the 49ers answered with a touchdown on the ensuing drive, but McKinnon’s third down conversion took the air out of the defense.
It felt like Reid was trolling Shanahan with his usage of receiver Mecole Hardman. Hardman was the first receiver in the Super Bowl era to run for two touchdowns and catch another. Reid constantly featured Hardman in jet motion near the goal line, and San Francisco's defense had no answer,
If not now, then when?
Is next week’s game against the Rams a must-win game? When will the turning point come if acquiring Christian McCaffrey catapults this team to ‘Super Bowl or Bust’? The whole team has to look at themselves in the mirror and ask, ‘if not now, then when?’