SF 49ers Special Teams, Coaching Grades
Whatever Kyle Shanahan’s game plan was for Sunday, the results went about as opposite as they could have gone.
Perhaps Shanahan and Co. were still reeling from the upset loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in Week 4. Perhaps they didn’t take Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co. seriously after the Dolphins entered the game with just one win.
Or, perhaps, Shanahan and Robert Saleh were looking forward to what’s going to be an even tougher matchup in Week 6 against the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams.
Whatever the case is, Shanahan didn’t have his team prepared.
Punter Mitch Wishnowsky was busy enough, punting three times while averaging 44.3 yards per boot. And he could have been much busier, too, considering Jimmy Garoppolo’s two interceptions thrown and one of the 49ers’ turnovers on downs.
At least kicker Robbie Gould converted his lone field-goal try and two extra-point attempts.
What was kick returner Kevin White thinking taking out his lone kickoff return from 5 yards deep within the end zone to get to the 15-yard line? And what about falling for that fake Dolphins punt?
Mistakes like that killed San Francisco.
While the players on the field bear a lot of the blame, Shanahan and Saleh deserve the majority of the finger-pointing for all that went wrong on Sunday.
For starters, the self-inflicted wounds were bad enough. Currently, amid the injuries and disjointed efforts elsewhere, the SF 49ers can’t afford to be flagged seven times for 75 yards. Compounding the issues, Brian Allen shouldn’t have been starting and shouldn’t have kept playing after being burned by Miami early.
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Why Saleh didn’t go to Ahkello Witherspoon earlier, or at least putting Jimmie Ward at corner and inserting Tarvarius Moore at free safety, is a massive question mark.
Likewise, Garoppolo shouldn’t have been starting if he was still hobbled during practice leading up to the game. His ankle was clearly bothering him early, and that could partially explain the two interceptions thrown before halftime.
Yet some of those in-game adjustments were problematic. Case in point, Saleh tried to cover up the lack of a pass rush by blitzing more. But with the troubles the SF 49ers are having at cornerback, this approach wasn’t working and allowed Fitzpatrick to pick apart the Niners defense with ease and regularity.
Any adjustments to that? No.
There haven’t been many adjustments from Shanahan’s perspective, either, alleviating the woes the offensive line is having five weeks into 2020.
San Francisco is 2-3 on the season as a result, its only two wins coming against the New York Jets and New York Giants, arguably the two worst teams in the NFL five weeks into the season.