No. 1: SF 49ers simply don’t have the ‘it’ factor
In 2017 and 2018, the Niners were in a lot of games but ultimately wound up on the losing end of most of them.
In 2019, San Francisco was dominant over less-impressive teams, sans the “trap” loss at home late in the season to the Atlanta Falcons, and even its losses to the Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens last year during the regular season were nail-biting close games that came down to the wire.
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Putting it bluntly, the SF 49ers had that “it” factor last season. In 2020, they don’t.
San Francisco has already lost to two teams it would have dominated a year ago, the Eagles and Dolphins. And it could have managed to stave off those pesky Arizona Cardinals, too.
Perhaps some of the blame, or a lot of it, falls on Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Granted, they’re working with rosters far weaker than what they enjoyed last season, and one could make an argument they’ve steered the team through proverbial waters that would have sunk lesser franchises.
At the same time, though, some of the questionable play-calling decisions and lack of in-game adjustments have been frustrating to watch and have inevitably led to the .500 record halfway through the season.
Still, for a team to make it to the Super Bowl, plenty of those “it” X-factors have to go its way. That was the case in 2019, and it’s proving to be otherwise this season.
For an SF 49ers squad expected to be back in the championship picture, it’s disappointing to realize it probably won’t happen this year.