Analyzing the 49ers’ woeful personnel decisions over the last few seasons

The San Francisco 49ers are far from where they were hoping. Photo courtesy of Niner Noise.

After the start of the 2021 regular season 2-4, the San Francisco 49ers reaped what they sowed. Many years of misguided, risky, and inept staff decisions have turned the once-promising football club into a rudderless mess.

The Niners roster moves into 2021

Let’s take a look at the series of bad decisions that got the 49ers to this point.

Draft Choices

With the developments of George Keitel, Dre Greenlaw and DJ Jones, the 49ers have earned a reputation for finding rough diamonds. However, outside of winning the lottery multiple times, the draft record for the 49ers over recent years has been quite obnoxious.

Starting in 2017, Lynch-Shanahan’s first term pick will serve as a microcosm of the team’s problems. 49ers picked Solomon Thomas of Stanford. A small-scale defensive intervention based on speed and technique, the front office and the technical staff made the baffling decision to play Thomas in a defensive end, a position he was unfamiliar with and unsuitable for him.

Thus, Thomas’ career in the Bay Area didn’t really take off. Thomas has only recorded 6 sacks, 27 presses and 23 QB strokes in four years with the 49ers. Through seven games with the Las Vegas Raiders, Thomas has already scored 2.5 sacks, 9 presses and 9 QB hits. Thomas may never turn out to be a world class player, but he is a solid player. However, Thomas was not talented enough to justify his high-ranking position or to overcome his mismanagement during his time in San Francisco.

That same year, 49 players were traded to linebacker Robin Foster of Alabama. Foster slipped into the draft due to injury and off-court concerns. Despite some flashes of excellence, Foster’s career was derailed by injuries and issues off the field. Furthermore, reserve middle quarterback CJ Beathard was selected two very high 104th overall and Joe Williams, who had never played in the NFL, was selected in the fourth round. Had it not been for George Keitel’s selection in the fifth round, the first draft of Lynch and Shanahan would have been considered a complete and utter disaster.

The 2018 draft was somewhat of an upswing with Mike McGlinchy’s tackle selection with the ninth overall pick as well as the excellent selection for first-team player Fred Warner in the third round. However, the selection of Dante Pettis in the second round, along with his subsequent management, is another bad mistake by the Niners. Pettis isn’t Prime Minister Antonio Brown, but he clearly has talent in a position the 49ers need. However, due to some issues going on behind the scenes, Pettis got into the dreaded Shanahan’s “kennel” during his sophomore season. Bettis, a second-round talent, was eventually disqualified by the Niners in 2020.

2019 brought another scratch: the selection of Jalen Hurd in the third round. A ‘promising’ talent known for playing both running back and a broad future in college, Heard never played one – One – Snap in the NFL due to multiple injuries. For Hurd to barely practice and not play in all three years of his NFL career, yet still remain on the 49ers list, is as funny as it is frustrating.

2020 saw again else Miss Project with the selection of Javon Kinlaw. The decision to take a defensive line guy wasn’t a bad one, but picking someone with chronic tendinitis in their knees is a bad one. Kinlaw flashed, especially when defending the race, but he is now facing a career hampered by a chronic knee problem.

Later in the 2020 first round, 49 dealers traded wide receiver Brandon Ayuk. Ayook had a great season for beginners despite the many obstacles related to the coronavirus and the injury he faced. However, for some unknown reason, the second-year recipient appears destined to repeat Dante Pettis’ position with Shanahan. On the roster screaming for offensive talent, it seems trivial and strange to pick fights with a runner-up on such a scale.

And finally, 2021. It’s still too early to make a judgment on the 2021 draft, but there are some serious reasons for concern. Once again, the Niners came up with the selection, taking guard Aaron Banks in the second round when most analysts had linked him to the fourth-round talent.

Seven weeks into the season, Banks played no surprise. Wear the suit only once out of necessity. It’s important to note that 49 players missed out on securing Asante Samuel Jr (a player who would have an immediate positive impact when needed) in order to pick the banks.

After one round, the Niners were traded to pick Trey Sermon’s back bruised out of Ohio State in the third round. despite of Trading As for the sermon, the novice is third or fourth in order of hits, receiving a serious lack of shots. In that same round, the Niners picked quarterback, Ambry Thomas. Thomas has not seen any real time to play this season. Unable to beat Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick.

You can’t consistently make a bad decision after a poor choice in the draft and anticipate the challenge for the Super Bowls. Whether it’s taking decision-making abilities away from Kyle Shanahan or any other tactic, something has to change in the 49ers’ draft selection process. Shanahan is a great player, but he’s clearly not a great evaluator of talent.

free agency

I will try to be brief here. The 49ers were just as incompetent in the free agency market as the recruiting process.

The decision to replace the proven All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner looks more and more like a blunder, especially with Kinlaw’s injury concerns. Fittingly, Buckner sacked quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the final of their seventh-week home loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Furthermore, the decision not to move from Jimmy Garoppolo after trading for Trey Lance backfired. The 49ers apparently tried to get their cake and eat it with the decision to keep Garoppolo, the Super Bowl challenge, while developing Trey Lance behind the scenes. But this did not work. If the Niners swap Garoppolo’s contract away from last season, the option to spend nearly $30 million on their defensive backs will be possible.

Instead, the Niners continued with a corner depth scheme headed by Jason Ferrett, whose season ended tragically in the first week, with no one behind him. And so, we find ourselves with Josh Norman and Dre Kirkpatrick as one nook and twos. This is not 2015 and it shows. The 49ers lead the NFL in overlap calls eight weeks into the season.

Defensive interference calls (yards lost) … 49ers: 14 (250) Tampa Bay: 10 (204) Cleveland: 10 (167) Washington: 7 (112) Atlanta: 6 (88)

Where do I go from here

Nobody in the NFL is unquestionable. The Super Bowl run of 2019 feels more and more like an aberration, an anomaly, a complete and absolute anomaly.

Kyle Shanahan has a lower winning percentage than Joe Philbin. Yes, the 49ers were infected with injuries and the project Shanahan took on in 2017 was more difficult than say Matt Lafleur’s Green Bay project. However, five years later, the operation was a failure.

Even more frustrating than defeats and injuries is the confusing, misguided, and, frankly, incompetent recruitment by the Niners. A slew of poor recruiting picks, free agency moves, and subsequent man-management by Kyle Shanahan have turned the once-promising team into a directionless mess.

Standing at 2-4 with six consecutive home losses, the 49ers’ season is over. Where is the team headed from here? This is the job of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to find out. But they can start out with less risk on injury-prone players, stop sitting with their most skilled players for petty reasons off the field and do a better job managing their roster.

Despite the darkness surrounding the franchise at the moment, Shanahan shouldn’t be fired and the team can still prepare for a “good” season. But no one in the NFL is free from accountability for his actions, not least the head coach who has a worse winning percentage than Joe Philbin.

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