5 changes 49ers must implement over second half of 2021

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan talks to quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan talks to quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

At 3-5, the 49ers’ 2021 campaign is going nowhere fast, meaning Kyle Shanahan has to implement these five key changes for the rest of the year.

With each passing loss on the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 season, the focus grows less on trying to make the playoffs and more on what needs to happen in 2022 and beyond.

At 3-5, head coach Kyle Shanahan is getting away from the proverbial “no man’s land” of trying to discover a hot streak that’ll push the Niners back into playoff contention. Up until San Francisco’s Week 9 home loss to a depleted Arizona Cardinals team, it did make some sense why Shanahan was sticking with veterans over many first- and second-year players with the hopes experience would pan out over raw talent.

But that formula isn’t working. And with a 7-2 Los Angeles Rams squad coming to town in Week 10, the harsh reality of the 49ers settling in with a 3-6 record beyond the halfway point of the year is staring Shanahan and Co. squarely in the face.

Continuing to play underperforming players, many of whom are free agents in 2022, has no merit at this point. There are play-calling decisions Shanahan has to shake up, too.

Those are just some of the strategic changes the Niners must make over their final nine games of the year, highlighted by these five.

No. 5: 49ers must always go for 2 when trailing in games

There’s an argument to be made it’s more beneficial in the long run to go for two points instead of kicking extra-point conversions after touchdowns, namely in the light of leaguewide struggles facing kickers this year and the notion the points ultimately balance themselves out in the long run anyway.

For a scuffling team like San Francisco, though, this carries some merit.

Granted, the caveat of going for two probably doesn’t have to always apply in the rare instances the 49ers are leading, as smart situational football generally plays out there.

But when the Niners are trailing, Shanahan should almost automatically call for a two-point try instead of the extra point, something he could have done in Week 9 against Arizona but elected not to.

Interestingly enough, San Francisco is a perfect 2-of-2 on two-point conversions this season. The rest of the year doesn’t need to focus on giving kicker Robbie Gould more extra-point attempts, no, but those crucial goal-line situations surely would help the actual 49ers offense develop a scoring rhythm it largely lacks this season.

And if they don’t convert, at least one can’t fault Shanahan for not being aggressive.