Kyle Shanahan is feeling the heat amid 49ers struggles

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers have underperformed in a number of ways this season, and Kyle Shanahan is beginning to look like the primary constant amid the troubles.

No, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t going to go with a kneejerk reaction and fire head coach Kyle Shanahan in the wake of what happened in Week 7’s debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs.

For starters, if they were going to do that, it would have happened already.

About the only thing that could get Shanahan fired this season would be his Niners essentially losing out for their remaining games on the calendar, and San Francisco’s roster is simply too talented for that to take place.

However, right there is something that points out a critique of Shanahan that needs to be addressed.

The 49ers have a roster laden with talent on both sides of the ball. Think of the All-Pros alone: linebacker Fred Warner, tight end George Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and now running back Christian McCaffrey. Tack on other Pro Bowl-caliber players like EDGE Nick Bosa, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and others who could be in the running for such accolades, the Niners should be better than 3-4.

But they’re not. And in the wise words of Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are.”

San Francisco is a sub-.500 team, and those teams aren’t playoff teams.

Kyle Shanahan is getting less out of 49ers roster than he should

A rather shocking contrast to Shanahan and a San Francisco squad that’s still averaging just 20.7 points per game, 20th in the NFL, is just how good a job Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has done.

His Hawks, now 4-3 after beating the Los Angeles Chargers, surprisingly sit atop the NFC West despite entering the year in the post-quarterback Russell Wilson turmoil and boasting a roster many thought would be one of the worst within the conference.

That’s called “doing more with less.” Shanahan might be guilty of “doing less with more.”

With the roster at hand, the 49ers should be noticeably better on offense. Sure, Shanahan’s offenses are complex, and it can take a number of games before players wind up hitting a stride uniformly.

Instead, the Niners have seemingly found new ways to beat themselves, especially on offense, in each of their four defeats as Niners Nation’s Akash Anavarathan pointed out:

"Every week, it seems to be something new with this 49ers’ team. Last week, the defense couldn’t stop the Falcons’ rushing attack, and the offense had some pivotal drops. In the loss against the Broncos, the 49ers’ offense couldn’t move the ball all game long.This week, the 49ers’ defense gave up 9.1 yards per play (second-highest by a team this season) while committing eight costly penalties that gave the Chiefs chance after chance to bury them.The last two weeks are the first time I’ve wondered if the 49ers have a coaching problem in the Kyle Shanahan era. In their four losses this season, they’ve consistently found a different way to beat themselves."

That’s troubling. And it’s hard to argue, too.

Kyle Shanahan isn’t on the hot seat, but he could be by year’s end

Remember, San Francisco started off 3-5 a season ago, and it wasn’t the only time during his head-coaching tenure that fans were calling for Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to be dismissed.

Ryans ultimately turned what was an underachieving 49ers defense around into one of the better defenses in the NFL over the second half of 2021, despite having some serious problems at cornerback, while Shanahan got creative enough with his offense to use Samuel as a multipurpose weapon to keep opponents off balance.

The results worked, and the Niners rebounded from that 3-5 start to getting within minutes of winning the NFC Championship game, albeit they had to get some lucky bounces along the way here and there.

Shanahan figured it out, yes. But this year’s San Francisco squad, on both offense and defense, was supposed to be better than what was rolled out a year ago.

Instead, the first seven games have seen arguably more inconsistency and frustration than what happened a year ago.

If Shanahan doesn’t correct it again this time, yes, his seat could get a lot warmer by the time January rolls around.

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