No. 5: Coaching staff needs to be better
It was a trap game for the 49ers. They said all week they knew what Atlanta would bring, and yet here we are. San Francisco shouldn’t have allowed the Falcons to be in this game, let alone walk away with a victory. There were some questionable calls from head coach Kyle Shanahan, and the main mistake was kicking a field goal on 4th-and-1 late in the final quarter.
This wasn’t the type of game to “play it safe.” When a team with seven wins less than yours is matching punch-for-punch, you have to throw knockout blows given the opportunity.
Just like in the Niners’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
As time ticked down in the fourth quarter, the 49ers had their chance to finally throw the knockout punch to the Falcons. It was 4th-and-1 with less than two minutes left. Rather than ride the hottest player in football, running back Raheem Mostert who we’ll talk about later, Shanahan opted to go for the field goal.
Now, hindsight is always 20/20. If tight end George Kittle didn’t fumble on third down and was able to turn upfield, it would have been a first down with the outcome much more favorable for the red and gold. However, they were still within striking range of the first down. Coming into the game, the Niners were successful on six fourth-down conversions out of 11. They went 1-of-1 Sunday and it could have been 2-of-2.
Turning away from the final two minutes, it seemed like the 49ers players were playing uninspired football. They lacked pizzaz. Motivation. Juice. Whatever you want to call it, they just didn’t have it. Some of the inspiration should come from the coaching staff, whether it’s Shanahan, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh or the receivers coach, someone needed to light a fire under the team.
The focus is now on to the Rams, and I’m willing to bet the coaches will have their team focused and ready to compete for more than just a playoff spot on Saturday night.