Kyle Shanahan’s Reaction to the 49ers’ Embarrassing Week 9 Loss Is Proof He’s Losing Control of the Locker Room: ‘I Was Very Surprised’

Since the moment he took over the San Francisco 49ers, there’s been a sense of mystique to Kyle Shanahan. His nifty play-calling, his trendy sideline sneakers, his ability to get the most out of below-average talent. Shanahan has been viewed as one of the top offensive minds in the NFL for quite some time now.

However, following a 3-5 start to 2021, the once untouchable status of Shanahan is seemingly begging to be touched.

The 49ers are struggling to win under Kyle Shanahan

The 2019 49ers were a poster child for what good coaching looks like. Shanahan turned Jimmy Garoppolo into one of the league’s better passers and guided the Niners to the Super Bowl. They ultimately fell victim to Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, it was an impressive season for Shanahan and the 49ers nevertheless. Not many people had them pinned as Super Bowl contenders heading into the year.

Fast forward to 2020, and disaster struck the Niners at every turn possible. Superstar pass-rusher Nick Bosa went down with a season-ending injury. Tight end George Kittle missed half the year. The offensive line was banged up. Garoppolo missed 10 games.

OK, no worries. Shanahan received a pass for the 6-10 finish, and attention quickly shifted toward the offseason, which saw Shanahan green light a franchise-altering trade-up for quarterback Trey Lance.

Lance has barely had a cup of coffee in the NFL, so it’s unfair to label the trade a success or a failure quite yet. However, it’s fair to acknowledge that the trade isn’t helping the 49ers win actual games in 2021. The 49ers are 3-5 through eight games and just lost at home to a Colt McCoy-led Arizona Cardinals team.

That’s not good.

Kyle Shanahan is running out of excuses

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Kyle Shanahan | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

After the 49ers’ Week 9 loss to the Kyler Murray-less Cardinals, Shanahan offered little reason why his team lost such a winnable game.

“I was real disappointed,” Shanahan said. “Thought we’d play really well. Had a good week of practice. I thought we’d even improve from the week prior. But obviously, it didn’t go that way.”

“That’s why I’m extremely disappointed. I’m obviously wrong, but I was very surprised that we didn’t play well today. I thought we had a great week of practice…thought guys were on it in the meetings all week, and I felt their energy before the game. I was very caught off by how we played.” 

According to Shanahan himself, everything went excellent for the 49ers leading up to the game. They had strong practices. Everyone was healthy. They were simply outplayed and outcoached — at home — by a team missing several key starters.

What next for the 49ers?


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Assuming the 49ers continue along their current track, they’ll finish the year with a losing record. It will be their fourth losing season in five years under Shanahan.

Once again, that’s not good.

Shanahan is a great offensive play-caller; there’s no denying that. The drives the 49ers do score on these days are drawn up to perfection. However, it’s reasonable to question Shanahan’s ability to coach an entire team. 2019 was great, but since then, the results have been horrible year after year.

With Shanahan offering up a sense of exasperation and confusion following losses these days, one could even make the claim he’s starting to lose faith in his ability to win games in the NFL.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.