SF 49ers grades in heartbreaking season-finale loss to Seahawks
By Peter Panacy
SF 49ers Special Teams, Coaching Grades vs. Seahawks
Kyle Shanahan didn’t call his best game. Neither did Robert Saleh.
But Saleh certainly gets the edge for doing more with less, so to speak, when factoring in all the injuries the team has dealt with over the course of the season.
And that’s nothing to scoff at when considering Seattle entered Week 17 with the No. 7-ranked scoring offense in the NFL.
Perhaps Shanahan or Saleh, anyone, should coach up wide receiver/punt returner River Cracraft, too.
Punting and returns weren’t exactly on San Francisco’s high point in Week 17, especially with Cracraft calling for a fair catch on his first return attempt when there wasn’t a single Seahawks gunner within 20 yards of him.
Seriously, it was a bad look.
Cracraft managed some decent returns afterward, eventually averaging 9.0 yards per attempt. But that gaffe might last a while.
Street free-agent kicker Tristan Vizcaino, filling in for veteran kicker Robbie Gould (reserve/COVID-19) went a perfect 3-of-3 on his first three regular-season field-goal tries.
Why did the SF 49ers commit to Gould for the next two years again? Good for Vizcaino, though.
Again, not Shanahan’s best. Not Saleh’s best. But certainly not their worst, particularly when factoring in just how dangerous Seattle’s offense is at any point during the game.
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There was a point when the Seahawks had gone nearly two full quarters without picking up a first down, and Saleh deserves a ton of credit for frustrating Russell Wilson and doing a good enough job discouring Seattle to get back to its ground game. And for the better part of three quarters, wideouts like Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf weren’t key X-factors.
Shanahan, too, had an effective enough game plan when taking into consideration a quarterback whose pocket poise and accuracy aren’t great. More than a few times, the head coach had receiving targets wide open for C.J. Beathard to hit.
And more than once, Beathard either didn’t see them or felt compelled to go somewhere else with the ball.
Hard to pin that on the coaching staff.
Nevertheless, Shanahan will be looking forward to figuring out ways how he can get his offense both healthy and fully functioning.
Especially considering Saleh’s overall body of work this season in light of so many injuries will be good enough to likely earn him his own head-coaching job somewhere else in 2021.