On Monday, Joe Staley said the 49ers have to turn to their leaders and highest-paid players in order to fix their problems and get the season back on track. On today’s Gold Standard podcast, however, Levin Black pointed out that those same people are part of the problem.
“That’s maybe the biggest issue. The highest paid players on this team have not been up to snuff for one reason or another. George Kittle’s had injuries. Arik Armstead has had injuries. Fred Warner has not been good. Jimmie Ward has had injuries. Jimmy Garoppolo is probably going to end up being one of the highest paid because of all his bonuses this year, but in years past, he’s had injuries. Deebo, if I’m not mistaken, leads the league in drops right now. All the highest paid people have been part of the problem, and I don’t know of any team that’s going to be able to play consistently and execute when all your top players are not doing their part of the job.
What second-contract player has been earning that second contract this year? Trent Williams, I forgot about him, he’s been injured. There isn’t one. All the biggest contracts on this team have been hurt or not playing well.”
Consistency is a key ingredient for greatness, and right now, the 49ers never appear to be the same team from week to week. If the highest paid/best players on the team are the ones that are underperforming, who is left that can call people out? Nick Bosa certainly has been playing well, despite missing time, but he isn’t the best vocal leader. He’s already giving speeches to the team on Saturdays, and they aren’t doing the trick right now.
The good news is that there’s room for growth. We know the talent with Warner, Deebo, Kittle, etc., is there. We’ve seen them all play like all-pros in the past. The key might be something else Joe Staley talked about - being honest in your assessment of your own play. If those guys can look at themselves in the mirror and admit that they need to pick it up, they can set an example that inspires the rest of the team to follow suit.
It’s also frustrating that for the second straight year, we’re sitting around wondering whether this locker room has the fiery leadership to uphold The 49ers Way, as Staley put it. Last November, we did an interview with Kyle Juszczyk where he addressed the exact same issue, and it’s eerie how much of it holds up (link should take you to the exact question).
For the second straight year, it’s do-or-die against the Rams. The 49ers have the talent and the coaching to turn this season around. Do they have the motivation for the second straight year? We’ll find out on Sunday.
Other topics in today’s show
- Do the 49ers depend too much on guys that get hurt a lot? (4:19)
- The highest paid players have let the 49ers down (9:20)
- This is the second straight year the team faces a crisis of leadership (13:27)
- Is the season on the line this week? (17:39)
- How much does McCaffrey help the offense (19:30)
- Troy Clardy joins the show - how to prepare for a national NFL broadcast (28:39)
- The real reason the Rams have struggled this year (34:20)
- Why McCaffrey will have a big impact this week (36:09)
- This game will stick with the losing team (38:23)
- Is that Shanahan stat about losing going into the 4th quarter a big deal? (39:08)
- Levin’s absurd trivia question (44:22)