SF 49ers: 5 players who must bounce back in Week 2 vs. Jets

Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /
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SF 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, Robert Saleh, coaches
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

No. 1: The SF 49ers’ coaching staff must play to win or continue to lose.

Listeners of the most recent Niner Noise Podcast know exactly how I feel about the SF 49ers’ coaching staff’s performance in Week 1. With too many mistakes to cover in substantial depth, like I attempted to do on the pod, I’ll summarize some of the staff’s most problematic mishaps.

In my instant reaction, I handed Shanahan, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and the Niners’ staff roughly 40 percent of the blame for the team’s loss. But after reviewing the game film, I believe I was too kind to the group, who had an entire offseason to prepare for Sunday’s game, yet failed miserably in that endeavor:

Shanahan’s glaring mistake was forgetting to provide his quarterback with NFL-caliber receiving options, even prior to tight end George Kittle’s injury.

This failure by the coaching staff helped produce this shocking statistic.

Prior to the Super Bowl, I outlined a few factors which would play a major role in whether the San Francisco 49ers would return to the Bay Area with their sixth Lombardi Trophy. They failed in each factor in February, and they repeated each mistake in Week 1.

Shanahan’s “all breaks, no gas” mentality was devastating to the team last Sunday. After gaining a first-quarter lead, the 49ers cut their passing attempts in half during the second and third quarters of the game, then increased their passing attempts to their normal level in the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, the SF 49ers were less productive in nearly every major statistic — both on the ground and through the air — in the second and third quarters.

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As I discussed in our latest podcast, Shanahan remains clueless when deciding what to do on fourth down, which is one of the reasons the Niners haven’t thrived in the red zone as they should. On Sunday, Shanahan faced seven fourth-down situations where a decision was required; he made the wrong call five times.

In what has become a regular occurrence, the 49ers failed in yet another end-of-half situation against the Cardinals, when a potential game-turning interception by safety Jaquaski Tartt deep in Arizona territory was wasted. Instead of running the limited amount of remaining time off the clock and putting the ball into the end zone, the SF 49ers didn’t properly run the clock, before settling for a useless 24-yard field goal.

The Cardinals promptly took advantage of Saleh’s normal lax end-of-half defense, which continued to ignore star wideout DeAndre Hopkins, by driving the field and converting a field goal of their own.

Like Shanahan, Saleh learned nothing from his 2019 failures, which included allowing every opposing offense with one “Wide Receiver 1,” but no other viable passing options, to tear his defense to shreds. Hopkins ended the game with more receptions than all other Cardinal players combined, yet continued to run free through Saleh’s defense for over 150 yards.

Now in his fourth season as a defensive coordinator, if Saleh has yet to figure out his defense must focus on an opposing team’s lone receiving option, it’s unlikely that he ever will.

dark. Next. Behind enemy lines with FanSided's Jet Press

The SF 49ers clearly have what it takes to bounce back with a strong performance against the Jets in Week 2. Look for the 49ers to do so, and even their record at 1-1.