Position grades, analysis from SF 49ers maddening loss to Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 4
Richie James, SF 49ers, Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Richie James (13) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers special teams and coaching grades

The SF 49ers lost this game because of turnovers and small mistakes that were too much to overcome. Special teams played a large role in that.

Special Teams: F

The SF 49ers, for the entire last decade, through head coaches Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly, and Kyle Shanahan, have failed to find even an average punt returner. Somehow, the man taking kicks has been bad.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

That continued this week.

Richie James had an inexcusable fumble on his return, Trent Taylor couldn’t make a good decision on any of his returns, constantly costing the Niners field position. Good teams win on the peripheries, and if the SF 49ers want to constantly be a good team, they need all facets of the team, defense, offense and special teams, to play well.

Something has to change in 2021.

Coaching: C

I could talk about minutia for this game and specific decisions either coach should have made. I could complain Shanahan should have pulled Nick Mullens and played C.J. Beathard sooner.

But the simple fact of the matter is coaching can’t do everything.

Both Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh are coaching with depleted rosters, they both tried to put their team in a good position, and the team struggled at times. There is nothing a coach can do when a QB hemorrhages turnovers beyond pull him for another QB who has clearly proven not to be a starter or a quality backup.

Next. SF 49ers can’t overcome turnovers in crucial loss to Cowboys. dark

Now that the SF 49ers playoff hopes are all but over, the focus turns on building for next year, seeing what young players might make a difference, and playing a game Niners fans have been all too familiar with: the draft-position game.