This is why 49ers got off to such a slow start this season

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The 49ers shouldn’t be content with a 5-4 start to the 2022 season, and here’s why they didn’t exactly shoot out of the gate red hot this year.

The San Francisco 49ers had a rather dull victory in their Week 10 matchup versus the Los Angeles Chargers. Sure, the second half was exciting, but it was also ugly and disjointed up to that point.

Simply put, it wasn’t quite the performance many were expecting, especially after coming out of the bye week, but it does shed some light on the reasons why the Niners are off to a so-so start in 2022.

Considering the talent San Francisco has on both sides of the ball, a 5-4 first-half effort this year is questionable at best.

49ers’ play-calling and execution have been problematic

The 49ers offense needs all the great field position it can get since it has been so wildly inconsistent this season.

Whether it’s due to poor player execution or uninspiring play-calling, the Niners have notoriously gotten off to slow starts in games. This can become an extremely dangerous trend when competing against some of the upper-echelon teams in the league, and that ugly Week 7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in which head coach Kyle Shanahan was trading field goals for touchdowns was quite the example.

If San Francisco is serious about contending for a title this year, something systematically has to change for the better. Ever since the Niners traded for running back Christian McCaffrey, it’s been constant chatter about the plethora of offensive weapons they now possess.

However, they still haven’t quite hit their stride yet, nor have they begun to deploy their full arsenal of talent. And with rookie running backs like Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason waiting in the wings, one has to wonder when Shanahan inserts them into action more frequently.

49ers dealt with too many penalties and defensive breakdowns

Another reason for the Niners’ so-so start is the rash of penalties they incurred during the course of a game.

Since Week 1, San Francisco has tallied 56 penalties for 410 yards, which led to 14 first downs as a result. In contrast, the 49ers’ opponents racked up 42 penalties for 377 yards while giving up 16 first downs via penalties.

It’s difficult enough to score points in the NFL without the added pressure from self-inflicted wounds, but it’s even more difficult when drives are cut short, and the offense has to come off the field in the midst of establishing a rhythm.

Perhaps it’s one of the main factors for the team only scoring 30 or more points just twice this season (Weeks 5 and 8). Sure, the Niners have been fairly decent at moving the ball up and down the field but have struggled to convert those opportunities into touchdowns.

With so many offensive options at Shanahan’s disposal, one can only hope his team gets rolling as the regular season winds down.

Before San Francisco can even think about post-season play, it has one more piece of business to tend to: defensive breakdowns.

Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers have had a top-three defensive unit since the start of the season, but it also has sporadic mental lapses. This side of the ball is still a formidable group, though, and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has done a solid job with making in-game adjustments, but he knows there’s still much to clean up before regaining their championship form.

And perhaps that championship-caliber form comes into play over the second half of the season when the Niners play up to their full potential.

Next. Predicting each 49ers game, outcome over 2nd half of season. dark