San Francisco 49ers: Rocky start to the Lynch-Shanahan era

The Niners have struggled in their first year under new management. Is there already trouble brewing in the Bay?

In the offseason, we loyal fans of the 49ers were excited to start the season. New head coach Kyle Shanahan was the guy everyone wanted to take over the team, and in John Lynch’s first test as a rookie GM, he handled the Draft like a pro. No one expected San Francisco to be good this year after going 2-14 last season, but their 0-7 start has definitely stepped on the hype Lynch and Shanahan brought to the Bay.

Bad beginnings

The 49ers’ season has been both disappointing and heartbreaking. Not only do they not have a win, but five of their seven losses have been by three points or less. The Niners have also had three games where they failed to score a touchdown at all, and narrowly avoided a fourth when they finally got a score last week against Dallas in the 4th quarter. Kyle Shanahan came over from an Atlanta Falcons team that featured the best offense in the NFL, which makes San Francisco’s offensive woes that much harder to swallow. 

Fans weren’t expecting a complete transformation in one year with Shanahan; but they wanted at least a sign of some improvement. Instead, we have an offense averaging just 17.6 points per game (25th in NFL) and has absolutely nothing going for them.

Carlos Hyde and the run game have taken a step backward this year; San Francisco is rushing for just 96.0 yards per game (23rd in NFL), compared to 126.2 (4th) last season. The passing game has had significant problems as well, bad enough that quarterback Brian Hoyer had to be benched for CJ Beathard, a move that makes you feel like the 49ers are focusing more on draft position than winning the rest of the season.

And don’t think John Lynch hasn’t received his own criticism lately. The departure of legendary linebacker NaVorro Bowman has left a bad taste in fans mouths. Bowman, along with Patrick Willis, had been the of the 49ers’ defense for the last decade, and was one of the few Niners left from the team that reached Super Bowl XLVII.

Needless to say he was a fan favorite, and although I can understand that it was in Bowman’s best interest, was it in the best interest of the 49ers? This defense is young, and learning from a guy of Bowman’s caliber and experience can be invaluable to this squad, especially to Reuben Foster, who is the heir apparent to Bowman’s spot as linebacker and leader of this unit. It seems to me that it would have been better to keep NaVorro Bowman on to help guide and mentor Foster until he was ready to take his place.

Take a breath

In a time where success is expected almost immediately, we need to take a moment and remember the fall that the 49ers had following the departure of Jim Harbaugh in 2015.

Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Alex Smith, and Mike Iupati were all key pieces that the team lost in one way or another, not to mention losing an amazing coach like Harbaugh. No team in history has lost so much talent so abruptly, and talent like that can’t be replace in one, two, or even three years. John Lynch has made some nice moves in his first year and Kyle Shanahan can’t be judged on an offense that everyone knew wasn’t talented to begin with. These guys need more time to make their presence felt in San Francisco, and I think they’ll get it done. The new era of 49er football is not in jeopardy, but its a long way back to the top, so strap-in and give these guys time to get this done. 

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