Who’s at fault for 49ers’ mess? They should look in mirror

The 49ers did this to themselves. Created a mess.

They had opportunities to win each of the past four games and blew them. Now they’re 0-5, and no team that started a season with five consecutive losses has ever made the playoffs.

A series of bad moves led to this dreadful start for the 49ers. In chronological order, here are the five biggest football sins the Niners have committed in 2017.

Click here to read my Thursday column.

This article has 116 Comments

  1. The single biggest reason for the 0-5 record (more than 80% if I were to quantify the reason) is the expansion team-level talent that Shanalynch inherited. The rest 20% discussed here is typical Grant second-guessing, nitpicking and MMQBing. Pick 3 should have been Jamal Adams …. until it became Lattimore, and will probably “should have been” some other player in the future as the injury situation changes. Saleh is doing a decent job with the talent he has, striving to hide his talent-depleted and injury-depleted secondary. I’d ascribe half of the offensive penalties to Shanny implementing a complex offense with players of whom only 4-5 display starter-level talent, and have not played with each other for long. Comparing with McVay’s situation is plain silly considering the talent gap between Rams and Niners. I agree with Grant that Shanny would benefit from a OC and I think he eventually and offensive assistant with sufficient talent to take that role.What I like is the rookies who have played so far (except Witherspoon) appear to be foundational pieces, which is encouraging.

    1. Pretty much a garbage article. It was fun reading Cohn during all the York bashing because we all felt that pain. But the guy is really reaching now. Prior to the mess York created firing Harbaugh and after Shanahan’s hire, any time I am scrolling through the articles posted on the 49ers Webzone, if I see an elementary titled article like “Who’s at fault for 49ers’ mess? They should look in mirror,” I just scroll past it. Sometimes I will click on it because the PD has different writers and I’ll go, “Yep, Grant Cohn,” chuckle and move on to Maiocco, Barrows or Lynch.

      1. Agreed.,this ? should be banned from niner facility . Mr Nostradamus isn’t looking too bright with that 9 win prediction . I wonder if we could all apply to the press Democrat and become a Beat writer . I’m annoyed ? lol

      2. Bah, the Matts and Lynch bring nothing to the table. They state the obvious and are unrelenting homers. Sure, they get the plum interviews, but say little and provoke little interest to me.
        Grant has been spot on on many things. Bowman looks slow, and Hyde, with his 11 yards last game, does not look like a good fit with this system. Grant ripped many of the draft choices, and he is being proven right.
        It is very telling that you not only read the article, but had the time to comment on it. You should just ignore Grant, if that was the way you felt. By commenting on it, it just shows how much importance Grant has.

        1. Matt Barrows is hardly an unrelenting homer, he just doesn’t rush to judgement.
          I think MM has become more of one since moving to csnbayarea… but overall I dont think their isn’t a need to rip one, to raise anothers star.
          Hyde hasn’t been bad, he is top 10 in the nfl in rushing despite last week and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
          Those are very good numbers. Hydes issue is the same as always, he is a big, tough, china doll who is always injured. And a hip injury is a terrible one to have in this scheme, they ruin lateral mobility.

          He has been right on Bowman, but a lot of this is covered up if Foster stays healthy.
          Who did Grant rip in the draft? He gave the following players a grade of (below average) c- or less, Reuben Foster,C.J. Beathard,Pita Taumoepenu,Adrian Colbert
          His grades of players in the above average range A through B- were Ahkello Witherspoon, Joe Williams(a+), D.J. Jones
          His average graded players were Solomon Thomas, Trent Taylor

    2. Why anyone would take anything Cohn Jr. says seriously is beyond me. This entire blog is self indulgent tripe full of musings from a kid who knew nothing about football when he took it over and believes he’s an expert after reading strategy articles online and playing video games. It’s obvious he has no clue how things work inside a locker room or how Coaches develop a game plan from week to week.

      This is nothing more than an attempt to deflect from the fact he has been wrong about every prediction and observation he made for this team. If you just want a place to come whine and complain ignorantly, this is your spot.

    3. PFF has the 49ers pressuring quarterbacks 40% of the time, 4th best in the league, and that’s been predominately done with just 4 guys….

    4. Couldn’t agree more. And even if you wanted to dwell on Saleh not being a household name, the fact that they had to wait until after the Superbowl to hire Shanny put him behind in terms of putting together a staff. But I agree that he is doing a good job all things considered.

  2. Grant, your comments would make sense for a team that was more established and trying to make the playoffs but that isn’t this team. This is the first year of a total rebuild. It’s only game 5 in the first year. It’s way too early to to dump on Thomas. It’s way to,early to dump on anybody. This is a process to install his offense, to evaluate the talent, to bring in young guys and find out what they have. It’s time to let these young guys play and learn which will pay dividends in the future. At the end of the year they will have a much better idea of what they need in the way of players and coaches. I know you predicted a 9-7 record but it’s times to get on the band wagon with Shanahan and Lynch. I feel they have a great plan that will take a couple of years.

  3. Any one or two of the five sins you pointed out and corrected would have resulted in at least a 3-2 record. I think of all the issues you pointed out, Kyle taking on the, HC/OC, dual role was most damaging. The exceptional amount of time he spends coordinating should have been spent on leadership duties like performance evaluation and effective action plans for his assistant coaches to put into place to correct the myriad of mistakes in scheme and assignment duties that are at the very root of their defeats.. There is talent at the QB position, at RB, at WR. The Defense is ranked 19 in the league improving from 29 last season. They certainly have enough horses to be far better than 0-5..

  4. Didn’t the 49ers go after more experienced defensive coordinators (Bradley and Fangio)? The problem is, they had to do this while they officially did not have a head coach as the hire could not be finalized until after the Super Bowl. McVay did not have this restriction as he was hired well before Shanahan. Frankly, I think the rule that you cannot officially sign coaches until after they are knocked out of the playoffs is a little archaic as it puts the teams having to wait for the guy they want at a big disadvantage. Anyway, I think you should take this into account Grant.

  5. Fun article, Grant. Very much enjoyed it.

    1. I’m inclined to agree with you, but I can’t fault Shanny for being overly confident in his ability. Perhaps next year his reflection in the mirror will cause him to make a change.
    2. Captain Kirk will be freed from the Federation to beam aboard the USS 49er in 2018.
    3. Sure they could have outbid the Broncos for Leary’s services, but it’s possible he wanted to play for a contender.
    4. Last against the run, and the need for more disruption made King Solomon a wise choice. Armstead’s rehab, Tank’s inability to stay healthy, and not only Hooker’s, but several high draft picks had injury concerns. Thomas also possessed a high character and superb work ethic. This is only the first chapter of the story, and before you declare Thomas a mistake, I would remind you that the plot will take many twists and turns before we get to the final chapter.
    5. Vic Fangio will make a great Moses.

        1. I love the 49ers. I bleed red and gold and live and die with this heartbreaking team every Sunday. I just don’t understand these 9ers apologists…. yeah, why Grant aren’t you writing articles about how awesome the 9ers are??? Ohh yeah cuz we are 0-5.
          The team could benefit from an OC
          our o line is terrible
          Thomas was an awful pick at 3
          And our penalties are a joke…… so how is this a bad article???

  6. Ok, what’s really happening here….

    # 1 – OL as non-priority : have to agree with G here- this is the major reason the team has lost 2-3 winnable games. If much more attention and lots of $$$ would have been allotted for better interior OL FA’s, this blog would be a happier place at week 6.,

    HOWEVER, this is but a symptom of the TRUE problem with KS’ attempts at fielding a competent team in 2017:

    # 1A – York’s still keeping checkbook closed! KS and JL are operating under the same penny-pinching mindset as the previous 3 seasons…KS and JL had a stingy free agent budget going into this season…affecting “battle tested” and “battle hardened” player choices, as well as coaching staff options. KS’ FA choices were made under York budgetary limits.

    # 2 – KS’s hubris- NOT due to his no OC thing this season…he needs to install and run offense, for at least this year– one of his offensive assts. could be re-christened OC, and NOTHING would change in KS’ HC world. What were Hackett and Holmgren under Walsh– glorified offensive assts.?? QB coaches??
    NO– KS’s true issue here is knuckling under York $$ restraints…he could have publicly lobbied for more FA $$, and now we see the results of the York tightwad effect: OL, DB’s, LB’s WR’s etc., etc., ad nauseum …

    1. and if you guys REALLY want this KS as OC+HC thing to resolve- better to lobby for an “experienced” NFL coach to step in as “assistant HC”….you know, Kyle’s old man as asst. HC, to do the bad cop/motivational thing
      would this scenario help you guys feel better???

    2. Interesting observation, I had long questioned the lack of effort on the team’s part to go after FA players under Baalke and while many questioned Baalke, I always felt the Yorks were the likely culprits. Didn’t this year given that Jed opened up his purse for the coach and seemed to by signing Juice, but if you think about it, they did sign a QB on the cheap. I guess we will have to monitor.

  7. What’s going on with the OW “Juice”??

    Thought he was going to be the unguardable opposing team mismatch? Highest paid at his position

    Steadily breaking out Kittle has outplayed him & he’s an established Vet in his prime I believe….

    Man would like to see him used as forecasted. What happened there?

  8. I have been saying similar things for some time Grant!

    The roster being old does not jive as the unit with the most returning players is the defensive side of the ball and it is the one that is performing better than the offensive side of the ball.

    I think Lynch became enamored by Solomon since they had a class together. That has been bandied about way too often and it is really meaningless unless the kid fits and can play. So far, he has not really been what they wanted which is no surprise given that they didn’t need interior help (especially after signing Mitchell) but pass rushers. They were also available in the draft. CB would have sufficed given the gargantuan hole. Instead they got Witherspoon who can’t seem to get on or stay on the field.

  9. Original Sin is The York Family not selling the team, until that happens the 49ers (take a knee) are not going to win another Super Bowel.
    Agree the team needs a leader not a OC as head coach.
    Urgent need upgrade at the guard position.
    Just because you don’t like Thomas leave the kid alone God only knows why a lot of draft picks are bust. This kid was behind the 8ball for not being able to practice with the team in preseason just like Garrett last year.
    As far as your 9-7 pick you must have been smoking funny weed where you wrote that perdiction. Best if they only one 1 game so the can trade the 2 pick with the Bears again.
    I enjoy reading the comment section most of all.

  10. Poor little Grant must be heartbroken that Hoyer wasn’t made NFC Offensive player of the week after his “A” performance.

  11. Wow, I see you’re really getting back to the know-it-all-hindsight crap again. The funny part is you’re always saying Walsh would do this and Walsh would do that. Walsh didn’t go secondary until Year 3, when he had enough of the holes filled to where it could make a difference. Walsh hired inexperienced coaches who’d never coached in the pros, or coached at all or had never coached at that level. Walsh churned his roster, especially on defense, like Challenge churns butter.

    Shanahan has done what Walsh did. But you think he’s an idiot. Just like the press who wrote the same things about him back in 1979 and 1980.

    Only to suddenly discover his genius in 1981 and pretend they never wrote he was an idiot. Suddenly all those stupid thing became brilliant decisions in the Manifest Destiny of the Greatness of Bill Walsh.

    Anyway, your criticism are rather pathetic. Nobody, not even you, knows who will pan out in the NFL draft. And considering they had JUST ONE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN that was panning out and a potential scheme fit (Buckner) when they came in… It was a good pick. But you obviously can’t see that.

    1. If Thomas were Khalil Mack, that would have been a good pick. I was calling for Lattimore long before the draft.

      People were saying the same stuff about Walsh last year when Chip Kelly was the coach.

    2. He’s spot on about Thomas.
      I agree 1,000 percent.
      I mean hell even Fournette would have been a better pick. Lattimore would have been maybe the wisest. Thomas was a horrible horrible pick as well as Witherspoon. Should have picked a guard in the 3rd and Lattimore 1st. They would be much better off.
      Really agree on all points. Shanahan biggest problem is he’s stubborn and has a big ego. He needs some balance and leveling in that head of his. McVay seems to be a bit more even keeled and humble. We’ll see in time who was the better hire but I am on the fence with Kyle as a HC.

  12. Grant,
    I dig a lot of what you have to say. He definitely should have hired an OC, like McVay did. Even if it was a no name guy. Someone just to take the load off.
    I also think they would have been much better off going after a CB or even trading back in the draft rather than taking Thomas, but it’s still waaaaaaay too early to call it a bad pick.
    Yes, they definitely need better guards. But before the season started, the OL looked like it was going to be one of the strengths of the team. Hindsight is always 20/20. Clearly that will be an area of investment this next offseason.
    As far as a good DC goes, they did go after Fangio and Bradley, either would have been great hires, but Fangio wasn’t allowed out of his contract and Gus picked the Chargers.
    I think a major reason they didn’t get an experienced DC or entertain the idea of an OC might have simply been that there weren’t many candidates available by the time the superbowl was over and Shanny/Lynch started the process of hiring staff. A lot of that may change this off season.
    I agree with you on the discipline and sloppiness. I’m chalking it up to a learning curve. I still think Shanny is one of the greatest minds in football right now and we all knew this was going to be a full rebuild from the ground up.
    I think if we’re patient, good things will come from this group. I like how Shanny is building a foundation.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Alphadux. I’m definitely not writing off Shanahan. I’m just pointing out the ways he and the 49ers have mismanaged the beginning of his tenure.

      1. and you’re sure KS’ mismanagement is solely to blame….no York $$ culpability here? Not being able to buy better staff or players??

        1. Why do you think York is such a cheapskate? He’s pretty much said he’ll do what it takes to put a winning team together. How many former coaches is he still paying? The NFL requires that each team spends 89% (I believe I’m remembering that number correctly) of the salary cap on average over a four year period. Finally, do you really think that KS and JL would jump on a ship that didn’t have enough provisions for the journey (i.e where they were directly told that they could not spend the entire salary cap)?

          Sure I wanted them to spend more money in FA, but in retrospect, they probably did the right thing not spending so much money. See what they have first and then target FAs in the second year. Now if in the future this becomes a persistent problem where cap money is not being spent, I’ll happily jump aboard. In other words, I am expecting a big FA and draft year in 2018 (they’ve got the salary cap money and the draft capital; let’s hope that there are decent FAs available).

          1. the buyout of prior staff failures keeps them mindset-wise from spending big $$ on today’s and tomorrow’s team.
            do you not remember the stories of York cheapness thru the Nolan/Singletary and Harbaugh eras???

            1. So here’s what I’ve gleaned from Spotrac.com regarding salary caps. Below is the cap space for the San Francisco 49ers in each year.

              2011: $22,195,533 which is 18.4% of $120 million salary cap,
              2012: -$17,163,308 which is -14.2% of the $120.6 million salary cap.
              2013: $4,693,644 which is 3.8% of the $123 million salary cap
              2014: $3,975,960 which is 3% of the $133 million salary cap

              2015: $13,115,521 which is 9.1% of the $143.28 million salary cap.
              2016: $42,579,751 which is 27.4% of the $155.27 million salary cap.
              2017: $62,824,225 which is 37.6% of the $167 million salary cap.

              So it looks to me like they spent money while Harbaugh was the coach. The big increases have come during the tenure of coaches Tomsula and Kelly and KS’ first year. Again I expect a signficant increase in expenditures in 2018. I also think that Jed is leaving the decisions up to JL and KS.

              1. cubus – Maybe I am off in my math, but based on your figures and the fact that the NFL requires an 89+% average spent on salary cap over a 4-year period, the Niners will have to spend around $224M on the cap for next season to get to that 89% thresh hold.

                What do your figures say???

              2. It’s my understanding that the most recent four-year period was 2013 to 2016. I’m not a 100% sure but I believe there are fixed four-year periods as opposed to rolling periods where you add in the current year and kick out the earliest year. From the numbers I posted, the total salary cap for 2013 thru 2016 is $554.55 million. The team spent all but $64.4 million of that. So the amount spent was 88.4%. I did some rounding off on my numbers and that’s probably why it didn’t quite make 89%. BTW, a guy like Marathe isn’t going to screw up the calc.

                I would think that the new four-year period is 2017 through 2020. So the team is only in the first year of that period.

          2. your retrospect theory of not spending big FA money as the wiser course—
            — falls apart when applied to what resources the OL was given…Zuttah, Fusco- both were lowball deals, due to low expectations, and a stingy FA budget — Kilgore, Beadles were going to continue being relied upon…and we now all must lower our expectations for 2017…

            1. As you can see from my second post, they didn’t spend cap space when Tomsula and Kelly were coaches which is a good thing, because now there is a lot of money available for KS and JL. I can understand the argument of proceeding cautiously this first year with KS and JL so that they can see what they have and how to spend the money wisely the second and subsequent years.

              1. Cubus

                So what do you tell ‘Çhip’ who was basically having to ‘play the hand he was dealt’ by Baalke’s draft and no-help with $$bucks for free agency?…..sorry….

          3. Some people think you aren’t being active unless you spend money, but what good is spending money if it is just to spend money? Like if the talent on the market isn’t worth the money, why spend on it? These same fans would then be bitching about overpaid players, bad contracts, etc.

            To me, the Niners could have spent money on ill-fitting or underperforming players…or they could save that money and use it the following season(s) on talent that is worth spending on. And nothing is worse than having money already spent on a position of need and not having it available to spend on someone truly worth it…

            1. KS and JL knew what they had with this OL early on, training camp showed that they seriously UNDERSPENT on the OL…Zuttah, Fusco, & Barnes were NOT top available FA OL talent– Zuttah possibly seemed legit– but not.

              Now, KS’ trying to make his WCO variant work with an OL that’s got decent T’s and what else? Now, his system won’t work,
              his system dependent QB won’t work,
              his “OZ” run scheme won’t work…

              My argument–
              – far, far more resources SHOULD have been used on OL FA’s.
              – KS’ offense MIGHT well be doing better– no guarantees– but having better vet talent on interior OL would be VERY helpful now– perhaps even worth a win or 2…
              — KS will continue to twist in the press’ wind until his OL starts doing better on OZ…and the way it’s going this won’t happen this year.
              — which means Hoyer futility will stay with us– unless the “stretch” run game starts working…
              — can Fusco, Kilgore, & Tomlinson figure this out? Benton’s not looking too good now, no matter what the PFF stats say.

              Bottom line- KS & JL own this snafu regarding the OL issues– unless they were held back by York $$ concerns… .

              1. And what OL free agents would you have got? Who were these top tier, must have guys?

                Its all well and good to say they should have upgraded the oline but if you don’t have someone to do it with, thats kinda a worthless argument. It would be like saying they should have gone out and signed Tom Brady…

              2. tjf

                I empathize with you…EXEPT for the fact that we dabbled in FA on proven losers, and at the same time gave away two ‘niner -trained’ 300+ lb. Olinemen in Theus and Alex Balducci who were on our roster for three years and were snapped up by other teams the day after their release….TOTAL waste…now we’ll be playing AGAINST them on Sundays….

                Kyle’s offense will succeed…but it’ll take a couple of seasons. We ALL knew that when he was hired…I’m more concerned with personnel decisions than scheme….and not so much who we bring in as much as who we turn out….

          4. Well said! It is so tiresome to hear people complain about the team not shelling out big bucks in FA in the 1st year of a new regime. Look around the league… how many succesful teams are built from scratch through FA? When was the last time a team won the summer spending award and then went on to be all that good the same year, let alone im the long run? I would argue that makes way more sense, as you said, to see what they have, suss out some of this young talent, and then start going after the right pieces in FA. Blowing their wad now, when no matter who they brought in they were still going to be several years away, would make no sense.

      2. In my experience bright minds in a technical sense (NFL schematics, play design and play calling are included in my opinion) are usually not great disciplinarians of others. Many just think that everyone is the same as they are when it comes to discipline. To be a star coach in the NFL you generally have to be very disciplined.

        So what I’m saying is that it might turn out that KS is not head coach material, when it’s all said and done. I admit to dreaming of a coaching staff consisting of Harbaugh as HC, KS as OC and Fangio as DC.

          1. Discipline starts at the top, and when you have an owner like York, who was born in the end zone, and lives like he scored, the bridge between thought, and accomplishment seems awfully rickety….

          2. Walsh, yup. Yeah, Lombardi also was an offensive innovator and didn’t hold back on ‘coaching’ LOL!
            Al Davis and Sid Gilman and Mike Shanahan and Bill Billicheck and Hank Stramm come to mind as innovators who were also disciplinarians. Football success fundamentally lends itself to disciplined, organized, co-operative play on offense and defense and special teams.
            But in and out of football, there are many examples that do support your observation. Knowledge isn’t wisdom with respect to leadership.
            Neither is bombast, but that’s a horse of another color….?…

            1. Don Coryell wasn’t a strict disciplinarian, and allowed his players plenty of leeway as long as they performed when their number was called. When their guard, Dobler got a 15 yard penalty, and Don asked his offensive line coach what he did, he said, “he kicked a guy in the ass”. Coryell responded, “well, tell him not to do that anymore”.

              1. Don was a strict disciplinarian as a college coach. He relaxed his style when he got to StL because he had excellent locker room leadership: Dierdorf, Banks, Young, Gray, Metcalf and retained perennial pro bowler Larry Wilson as a coach after he retired, lending cared to the new staff.

          3. Whine:

            I’m talking about really technical people. Even in Silicon Valley startups usually one of the founders is relatively more “people oriented” and becomes the stronger face of the company. Also, note that I said “usually” as little in life is absolute. As you pointed out, Walsh was an exception.

  13. I think we need to acknowledge the main reason for the 0-5 start is Baalke. This was a talent deficient team Lynch and Shanahan took over.

    We also shouldn’t be shocked that a rookie GM and rookie HC may make mistakes. What we have to hope is they learn from them.

    As I said in the previous article, I don’t really put too much blame on them for the OL, because they did try to fix it to some degree. It isn’t their fault Garnett got injured. And I think it is fair to expect one of Zuttah and Barnes – two experienced NFL OL and one a PB calibre player – to at least make the roster and provide quality depth.

    But the CB spot was an issue once they released Brock and they didn’t do enough to solve it. To me that was their biggest mistake roster wise. Though I am still of the opinion no defender would have made as much an impact on this team as Jamal Adams.

    However, unlike many, I am not down on Thomas as a player. He’s currently inconsistent, but he shows flashes. And doesn’t look out of his depth as a starter early in his career. That’s actually pretty good for a rookie. Promising. He may not end up being the best possible pick they could have made, but so long as he ends up being a good player that is fine.

  14. Scooter I disagree. This season is. It Baalke fault. There is much more talent on the team this year than the previous 2 and we are underachieving. Grant is eighth about Shanahan’s lack of leadership. The mental errors is what has cost this team the most. That comes from a lack of discipline. Rashad Robinson should have been sat down because of all the penalties he has given up. We have a young team and someone has to give them tough love so they can grow. Nobody seems to care when we make a critical error.

    1. The reason there is more talent on this team this year has nothing to do with Baalke and everything to do with Lynch and Shanahan. The roster turnover was enormous. And yet it still isn’t a good roster. Baalke definitely deserves a lot of blame for the state of the roster.

      Not arguing that Shanahan is making some mistakes managing the team. Or Lynch for that matter. To be expected. Just have to hope they learn from it.

      1. I’m not fully on board on the blame Baalke for the season’s woes. Much of roster has turned over. Additionally, almost all the skills players are new. The one unit that has been better is the defense and guess what? Most of those guys are holdovers! Not sure if the argument holds water completely. I do know that it takes time to build a roster but if you look at the players where are the upgrades?

        Is the QB better than last year? Debatable!
        WR group marginally better or at least on paper but certainly not in practice?
        RB improved because Hyde is healthy but are the other two better than last year’s backups?
        TEs yes this area has definitely improved- good call on Kittle.
        OL ? I forget who posted that they were better than last year but I think a lot of that has to do with time of delivery.

        DL playing much better but then the injuries to this group haven’t been as significant.
        LB on paper better but they have also had injuries just like like year!
        CBs are actually worse in most cases.
        Safety-better play for sure.

        Grant I’d be interested in a report from you on these guys and what you see.

        1. The issue is there were so many positions that needed to be purged. And no depth. Very few top tier players (really only one – Buckner). So yes, the team’s performance can be blamed on the fact the new additions haven’t fixed the issues, but the real problem is there were so many issues to fix.

          1. It takes multiple years for the same players to get good in the same scheme.
            Anyone who thought this team could win more than 5 games was thinking on paper.

        1. I’m thinking Shanny and staff should be evaluated on how well they are able to develop the guys Baalke drafted and the guys they drafted.
          We need to see if guys in the skilled positions get better. Specifically Robinson, Tartt, Thomas, Buckner, AA, Trent Taylor, Breida.
          If at the end of the year all those guys have shown improvement, regardless of wins and loses, I’d say the future looks promising.

        2. The strength of the team, but we are also outlining how the CBs aren’t performing, and the team still only has one truly dominant player atm. Let’s be honest, Baalke left a team with a lot of holes to fill.

          1. But why would they not start with filling the most important hole and the most important position in all of sports, QB?

  15. Hey Grant ,
    Did we really expect a playoff appearance , I did not .
    Reason being it took how long in Atlanta .

    This year coming expect some hand picked coaches and assistant coaches .

    Agree we should of did more for the offensive line. It’s our weakest position, on offense.
    Note # injuries didn’t help.

    Agree with the sloppiness of penalties , again offense line .
    It goes with the youth movement,and probably going to see it hang around for another year .
    We don’t have the talent to pull players when they mess up . Disciplining a player in game or practice , is not always a good idea. When your teaching a new offense . Makes teaching that much harder , nflpa setting stricter time frames probably has something to do with it. IMO .

    York is a tight wad . Probably holding back in that area ,till he sees what he wants .

    Trying to keep an open mind in all this.
    1 penalties
    2 injuries
    3 they are sticking to there plan
    4 knew it was a complete rooster overhaul
    5 no one knows shanny’s offense better than him . ( Maybe his dad) .
    But would you let someone try to instill your offense ,in a complete overhaul year .

    As always enjoyed the column .
    Grant what you think about the less coaching so to speak , new rules nflpa .

  16. Hey Grant,

    I truly believe we could have won the division this year. West was winnable. It is no guarantee we can compete next year. Seattle will reload, so will Arizona. Rams will only be better as they now have the Franchise QB. Feel like we underachieved this season so far.

  17. “This is the NFL, it’s not supposed to be a training ground for coaches,” said someone who has worked with Kyle Shanahan in Washington. “It’s ridiculous. Look at this staff. It sucks. Mike’s best buddy is (longtime Shanahan assistant and current linebackers coach Bob Slowik), and Slowik’s son is in his second year out of college and he’s on the staff. Everyone on the staff is in his first or second year except for Mike and Kyle and Haslett (defensive coordinator Jim Haslett) and Raheem (Morris, the secondary coach), and everyone knows Raheem is there because he is close with Kyle. Those two go way back.

    “Kyle’s not that confident, so they set him up with a bunch of yes men rather than have some experienced coaches to push him. It’s like Kyle is the pied piper and these kids just follow him around. I mean, Mike has been a head coach for 20 years — usually a guy like that has a posse he can bring with him. So he’s got Bobby Turner (running backs coach) here, and Slowik, and that’s it. How does that happen? How does he end up hiring all of his son’s buddies?

    Jason La Canfora article. 2013

  18. No facts, no evidence, no expert opinion, no player quotes, no coaches quotes, but in Liddle Grant’s opinion, Shanahan can’t be head coach and call offensive plays???

    Did Dada Cohn say the same about Walsh?

    Come on man, how about something to back up your claim?? Otherwise it’s no better than the barfly’s two stools over.

    If you got nothing then let’s go with the fact it was Shanhan’s offensive prowess that got him the job. Be a bit effing stupid to hire a guy for his OC skills and then employ somebody else to do it. Be like hiring a strong man to lift your moving boxes then telling him to take it easy and to hire some pimply kid to do it instead.

    1. Agree all though obviously this year hasn’t gone as planned I’ve never understood the idea of hiring a guy for his play calling abilities then telling him not to call the plays?

    2. Be a bit effing stupid to hire a guy for his OC skills and then employ somebody else to do it

      OK, so who should be the HC then?????

  19. Oh crap let’s face it we suck again….I feel like the Chinese guys in Major League…..
    “they’re shitty again”……
    Gonna be a long couple years then we’ll see.

  20. Ah, Grant finally picking up about my (and a few others) complaint about the lack of an OC.
    A good OC would have pointed out the OL and give insight on the passing game.
    At this point 0-16 would be the best result and a #1 pick.
    #1 priority QB
    #2 = CB
    #3 = OL

  21. “He is an excellent offensive coordinator.”

    Agreed, that’s why he didn’t hire somebody to do nothing. Kyle will always be working with the offense and helping create the game plan.

    “He hired Robert Saleh” After they tried to get Bradley and Fangio. They tried to do exactly what you suggested. That’s not a ‘sin’, it’s bad timing in one case and bad luck in the other case.

    Zuttah was supposed to play G and or C. You mentioned the Garnett injury.

    Agree on Thomas. Would have been happy with Adams or Lattimore.

    32. SF 9.8
    31. KC 8.4

    “Andy Reid can pull off both,”

    Maybe Reid should hire an OC and focus on discipline.

        1. Once again, Liddle Grant offers no evidence that Shanahan cannot do both. Liddle G thinks he couldn’t do it, therefore obvious Shanahan can’t either. BS.

      1. and yet whom do we see sitting with Goff during games going over the Surface Pad??
        McVay’s OC — for at least this season, is a glorified offensive asst.
        McVay is doing the same function on offense for the Lambs that KS is doing here….

        1. Yes, this is something that needs to be recognised – whether it is in name or not, a lot of HCs also act as a coordinator, especially early on in their HC career. And HC’s that are also a coordinator have assistants that support them. Naming someone as the OC wouldn’t have changed the relationship that exists. If he had named an OC, it would probably be someone like Mike LaFleur or Mike McDaniel anyway – who are the passing and running game coordinators/ specialists.

          1. Scoot, you’re just naming someone would be ineffective.
            He needs to find someone he can groom and trust with his system, so he can focus on being HC and be in charge!

      2. KS compounded his mistake by relying on Saleh, who has never been a DC. Sean McVay has a talented squad, and he also has Wade Phillips, who has won SBs as a DC. Yes, McVay does concentrate the offense, but even he admitted that he needed an OC. After the second half in the SB, KS does not get to declare that he is perfectly capable of being the HC, and OC, too.

      1. Dee,

        That was a dig at Grant and said in jest. Grant said Reid can do both (OC and HC). I absolutely agree with that. But I also believe Shanny can too.

        My point was that Grant’s example of a HC that can do both has the second most penalties.

        Obviously, the Chiefs have overcame their high number of penalties because their roster is superior to ours. Especially the QB position. They have a better HB. They have a WR that is already better than what we hope Goodwin will become. They have a true #1 CB.

        In our case, I would be more surprised if we had a low amount of penalties. We have a rookie HC and DC who are implementing new schemes on O and D. We’ve had an influx of FA’s and draft picks that have never played together. All of our units need time to learn and gel. The sloppiness should be expected at this point in the rebuild.

    1. Maybe Reid should hire an OC and focus on discipline.

      You mean Reid should hire Matt Nagy to be the OC for the Chiefs?

      “He is an excellent offensive coordinator.”

      Agreed, that’s why he didn’t hire somebody to do nothing. Kyle will always be working with the offense and helping create the game plan.

      Name one HC that was good because they were a good OC. They need to be more than an OC to be a good HC.

      If someone is trying to do both, they are neglecting one of their duties.

      1. “If someone is trying to do both, they are neglecting one of their duties.”

        Bill Walsh did both.

        Reid has an OC. Good to know. But yet his team could still be considered undisciplined with all the penalties.

        Kyle feels he doesn’t need an OC. Like it or not, he ain’t hiring one.

          1. Sam Wyche – Assisstant coach. 79-82.
            Mike Holmgren – Quarterbacks coach. 86-88. He was promoted to OC after Walsh retired. Walsh never had an OC.

            Kyle has Scangarello (former OC) as QB coach. He has Jon Embree as TE/Asst HC.

            Of course I’m not saying Kyle is or will become Walsh, but Walsh wasn’t “GOAT Walsh” in 79. In 79, Walsh, like Shanahan was considered an offensive genius with no head coaching experience in the NFL. Granted, Walsh had already been HC at Stanford.

            1. Wyche and Holmgren were the OCs, even though they didn’t have the official title. Walsh didn’t have the OC title in Cincinnati, either, but he was the OC. That title didn’t really catch on until the late 80s.

              1. so you claim Wyche and Holmgren (Hackett? isn’t he part of this BW history lesson narrative of yours too??) installed plays for each week’s offensive game plans, and had the “scripted” 1st qtr. Offense ready each week for BW? Sure about this?

                too bad no other offensive asst. on team currently knows KS’ offense as well as KS does.

              2. “Wyche and Holmgren were the OCs”

                That may or may not be true. But I’m sure they had input.

                How do you know that Scangarello or McDaniel aren’t filling the same roles as Wyche or Holmgren?

          2. and Paul Hackett?? were ANY of these guys working under BW considered an OC by today’s standards?? Only until Seifert took over (a defense coach) did a modern OC position become part of 9ers staff– Holmgren.

            KS can’t install his system AND train an OC to take over in KS’ 1st season— come on—- install offense 1st., make it work (2018?) …then add OC with needed training in KS’ system later in 2018/19– you guys are really beating this to death…it’s a minor issue till KS’ offense is functional– not the team being functional– just the offense. If offensive sloppy play and penalties stay with us till end of year, then Mike S steps in to help. It’ll never get to that point, as KS’ offense will get it going by the end of season, and penalties on O will diminish to NFL avgs.

        1. “If someone is trying to do both, they are neglecting one of their duties.”

          Bill Walsh did both.

          Bill Walsh also was General Manager. It doesn’t change anything I said. He was either performing the role of OC, HC, or GM at any given time. He wasn’t performing all three roles at the same time and they are all full time jobs. It’s impossible for him to perform all three at the same time as they all have different functions. Bill Walsh could get away with it because he was an exceptional coach. He also had outstanding coaches on his staff that picked up the slack. The 49ers currently do not have a Mike Holmgren, San Wyche, George Seifert, Sherman Lewis, Bobb Mckittrick, Ray Rhodes, Dennis Green, etc. and Kyle Shanahan is not Bill Walsh.

          Kyle either needs to surround himself with a great staff that can pick up the areas that he’s neglecting or he needs to free up his time to focus on being a HC.

          If he doesn’t, he will continue to fail as will the 49ers.

          1. Shanahan will always be involved in creating the gameplan. We hired him for his play calling. We hired him because he created a gameplan that destoyed Seattle in the playoffs.

            What’s the point of hiring Shanahan if he isn’t involved in the gameplan?

  22. http://ninerswire.usatoday.com/2017/10/11/kirk-cousins-on-looming-free-agency-if-i-do-my-part-hopefully-i-have-options/

    “The key is to play football really well between now and then so that when we get to that point, I’ll have options and there will be teams that will be interested,”

    He’s coming next year.

    “Cousins through four games is fourth in the NFL with a 107.6 passer rating while averaging 8.3 yards per attempt, also ranking fourth. He threw for 4,000 yards in his first two seasons starting and is second among active quarterbacks in career completion percentage (65.9) only behind Drew Brees (66.7) and ahead of Aaron Rodgers (65.2), Matt Ryan (64.9) and Russell Wilson (64.5).”

    1. Snyder will never let Cousins go to a Shanahan, especially if they make it to the playoffs. The Eagles are exceeding expectations, the Cowboys look vulnerable, and the Giants are imploding.

      1. Snyder can’t outbid us. Applying either tag would look foolish. Snyder may be dumb, but he won’t throw away his money on a one year rental. Don’t forget that Snyder and Allen hate Kirk (Kurt) too.

        1. Way over bidding for the services of Cousins will hurt the team. Look at the Seahawks. They paid a lot for Wilson, and now have little money to pay for O linemen.

  23. 5 Reasons the Niners are 0-5.
    1. The Niners are relying on 2 people who have never done the job before, and expected them to perform like seasoned veterans. Yes, the Niner have been close to winning, but they will never develop a winning culture by starting 0-5.
    2. The Niners decided to go cheap, with cheap results. Having 69 mil in cap space means that they have 64 mil less talent than most other teams. They should have spent some of that cap space signing good O linemen, but tried to squeak by with relatively no big name signings.
    3. The coaches have been totally lacking in preparations. The unforced errors and penalties show a team that is undisciplined and out of control.
    4. I was one of the first posters on this blog to question the wisdom of not having an OC. Many others derided my statement, but we all have seen the offensive struggles. Now, instead of being flexible and making changes, we hear excuses, and how the Niners could be 4-1. Being a rookie HC, KS should have asked for all the help he can get. Instead he was full of hubris, and wanted to play OC when a HC has so many more responsibilities than just calling plays.
    5. Plain and simple, the Niners need better quarterbacking. Kaep would provide that, especially since there has been improvement with the WRs, O line and defense. To sheathe a weapon, the Niners must be content to lose. KS gave Hoyer the job, and Hoyer is pulling a Gabbert. Kaep should have been allowed to compete for the job, especially with so much cap space, but KS could not be bothered trying to coach a player with different skillsets than Hoyer.

    1. Now that he is 0-5, maybe he understands why his father was run out of Denver and Washington. Yes, MS is accomplished, but he made some seriously bad decisions and actions while he was HC.
      Maybe MS should let his son lead his own life. Counsel and wisdom is great, but needs to be differentiated from the hubris. Humility is another attribute that KS should strive towards. Saying he needs no OC, when even Bill Bellichick has an OC, is not humble. Just like he has been saying that Hoyer is the starter, and they do not want to hurt his feelings by bringing in competition. ANY 0-5 QB in the league should be worried about being benched, and rightfully so. By not trying to improve,they are being content to lose, following some arcane formula that Paraag has rigged up. Paraag is probably counseling that the Niners should tank for a high draft pick, so they can get a QB. Too bad he does not realize that getting a rookie QB is no guarantee for success. The Niners should spend their first draft pick on an O lineman, or it will not matter which one they get. Maybe they should follow the Cowboys draft strategy and build an O line before getting weapons.
      Spending money in free agency is also important, and by not spending the remaining 69 mil is padding Jed’s bottom line, but not helping the Niners to win.They should have looked how the Rams got a good LT and now the offense is humming. Letting Iupati walk was a typical Baalke Move, and Paraag is behind the numbers.
      KS needs to make honest assessments and make timely decisions. Getting an OC will not hurt, because the team is 0-5 without one. Sure, it is his call, but he has an obligation to the FO, team and fans. Declaring that you do not need an OC is specious after an 0-5 start.

  24. Grant,
    Fair points. But personally speaking, I would wait until the team loses 12-14 games before being labeled a “mess.”

    If Tomsula or Chip were still coaching and had an 0-5 record then yes, this would be considered a mess – actually a hot mess.
    But Shanahan’ sins are wiped out by grace because he is a first year HC with many new and young players learning a complicated system.

    Tomsula won some games because there was still some talent left over from the Harbaugh regime. Kelly’ systems was not going to work because his system sacrificed his defense.

    I guess my point is that I will wait until the end of the season before I condemn this team to hail and brimstone.

    1. But Shanahan’ sins are wiped out by grace because he is a first year HC with many new and young players learning a complicated system.

      No they are wiped out because he has a higher potential than Tomtom and Kellybelly.
      They are wiped out because he had both as his predecessors.

    1. To compare 28 New England – Belichick, 29 Seattle – Carroll, 30 Pittsburgh – Tomlin , 31 Kansas City – Reid with
      32 San Francisco – Shanahan is silly.
      Not only are these established coaches with established teams but you’re trying to convince us that 8.0 is somehow equivalent to 11.0. Sorry but SF is almost 40% higher in penalties in the last 3 games than NE.
      Nice try 80, but try again!

      1. Right over your head like a Hoyer pass.

        “Not only are these established coaches with established teams”

        Yes, they are established and have been with their teams for years. You would think they wouldn’t be near the bottom. Shanahan and Saleh have new schemes and a large roster turnover, it should not surprise anyone that we’ve had a lot of penalties in the first 5 games of a rebuild.

        BTW, Your numers are off. SF is averaging 9.8, not 11. Go ahead and believe that the penalty problem would be solved if Kyle just yelled at people and hired an OC, but don’t fudge the numbers.

        1. Since you are absolving the other coaches, I assume you are blaming the players. Why do our players get a pass? Harbaugh was a disciplinary, yet Brooks committed penalties almost every game.

          When do the actual players get blamed for their mistakes?

  25. Well, far more entertaining than the past three years. Very much enjoying the rebuild, You can’t win them all.

    Yes they needed a CB, but ask your Pop about Dwayne Board, who anchored the early ’80’s teams, Thomas may be that guy, he’s definitely improving every week. And Foster was a gift, they’ll get the CB later…

  26. I hope this makes you guys happy.


    “Shanahan has assembled a supporting cast that he said makes him comfortable to delegate responsibilities whenever his attention has to be focused on something other than the team’s offense.”

    “Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur joined Shanahan after time together on the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive staff. McDaniel is the run-game specialist, while LaFleur, the wide receivers coach, is the pass-game specialist.”

    “Tight ends coach Jon Embree, formerly the head coach at Colorado, is Shanahan’s assistant head coach. Shanahan said Embree has a vocal role on his staff.”

    “Bobby Turner’s been an assistant head coach for our teams we’ve had in the past and anytime that I need him to take over, he does.”

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