Kyle Shanahan officially has a fourth-quarter playoff problem

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan  Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second time in three years, Kyle Shanahan watched his 49ers cough up a 10-point lead in the NFL playoffs, suggesting there’s a real problem.

Let’s get this out of the way: San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is a good one, and anyone who thinks otherwise should reflect back on the most recent low point of the franchise under one-and-done head coaches, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, when considering a reference point.

Or, just look around the league at teams consistently going through coaching tumult.

Shanahan was as big a reason as any why the Niners overcame a 3-5 record earlier during the regular season yet managed to get into the NFL playoffs, ultimately coming up short in the 2022 NFC Championship game in the 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

That loss, however, pointed out one of Shanahan’s glaring weaknesses, though: He struggles to execute offensive prowess late in playoff games.

Shanahan deserves a lot of praise for how he navigated his team’s earlier struggles. Yet he’s not immune to the criticisms either. While there were plenty of reasons behind San Francisco’s defeat at the hands of LA, the fact the 49ers led 17-7 in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement of Shanahan’s handling of fourth-quarter situations. Particularly those in the postseason

And, sadly, it’s a trend we’ve seen before.

For reference, the Niners weren’t particularly good, offensively, during the regular season either, averaging 6.0 points in the final frame, which ranked 21st in the league.

But let’s focus on the NFL playoffs only and see why Shanahan’s struggles here in the NFC Championship game weren’t anything new.