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Why Kyle Shanahan’s teams have historically struggled to come back from second half a deficit

More context on the stat you’ve been hearing about all week

After last week’s loss to the Chiefs, one Kyle Shanahan stat started making the rounds that has been talked about more than any other over the past seven days.

That looks bad, sure, but we needed more information to know whether Shanahan’s teams were losing close games or whether they were losing a lot of blowouts. We have more data thanks to NFL Network researcher and Niners Nation podcast host Michelle Magdziuk.

It’s worse than you think.

When Kyle Shanahan is trailing by one score at any point in the second half, he is 13-34. That is the most losses in that situation of any coach since 2017, when he was hired.

Let’s dig a little deeper. When Kyle Shanahan is trailing by three points or less at any point in the second half, he is 12-23. That is the most losses in that situation of any coach since 2017. The only coaches that were worse in that spot were Doug Marrone (who was fired), Dan Quinn (who was fired), Zac Taylor, and Kliff Kingsbury.

Let’s dig even deeper than that. When Kyle Shanahan is trailing by three points or less at any point in the fourth quarter, he is 8-20. As you might have guessed by now, that is the most such losses out of any coach since he was hired in 2017. There are only 11 coaches in that time frame that have a worse winning percentage in that situation: Matt Rhule (who was fired), Hue Jackson (fired), Matt Patricia (fired), Vic Fangio (fired), Dirk Koetter (fired), Todd Bowles (was fired before getting the Bucs job this year), Pat Shurmur (fired), Doug Marrone (fired), Zac Taylor, Kevin Stefanski, and Kliff Kingsbury.

I can already hear the context police coming. His quarterback was hurt a lot. It’s all Jimmy Garoppolo’s fault. This guy dropped a pass, this guy missed a field goal, and yada, yada, yada. I understand all of that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of context, I truly am. Those things happen to other teams, too, however, and at some point, the head coach of the 49ers has to bear the responsibility for his team’s shortcomings.

This isn’t to say that Kyle Shanahan should be fired. What I am saying is that in a league that is engineered toward parity, where one score decides most of the games, Kyle Shanahan’s game management has to change. What he’s been doing clearly is not working. Not only is it not working, but it’s also actually been worse than anyone else in his position since he got the job. Continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not only insane, but at this point, it’s coaching malpractice.

Other topics in today’s show

  • Kyle Shanahan is the biggest problem with the offense (2:56)
  • The Niners aren’t throwing the ball down the field (6:19)
  • Kyle Shanahan has been worse when trailing than anyone since he was hired (12:35)
  • Will Christian McCaffrey actually help the offense? (20:51)
  • Ray-Ray McCloud has been terrible at kick returns (23:01)
  • Why the 49ers could be much better after the bye week (26:21)
  • Best bet #1: Cooper Kupp receiving yards (34:00)
  • Best bet #2: Christian McCaffrey yards from scrimmage (35:48)
  • Best bet #3: Matt Stafford’s interceptions (38:58)