49ers Mid-Term Grades: Coaches

The past two days, I graded the 49ers offense, defense and special teams.
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The past two days, I graded the 49ers offense, defense and special teams. And Yesterday, my colleague Jose Sanchez graded the 49ers coaches, and did a fine job. I recommend you read his grades.

I also want to grade the 49ers coaches. Jose and I come to similar conclusions, but I have my own thoughts I'd like to share on the 49ers defensive coordinator and head coach.


The first half of the 2019 season, the 49ers defense was historically good -- I'm talking one of the best defenses of all time. And Saleh got zero credit for it, because the defense had phenomenal talent.

But since then, Saleh has lost DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Kwon Alexander, Richard Sherman, K'Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt -- eight starters. And his defense still ranks fifth out of 32 teams. Unreal.

Saleh should win the Coordinator of the Year Award. No one in the NFL has done more with less this season than Saleh. He has grown and evolved, and done an even better job than he did in 2019. If he finishes the season strong, he should become a head coach this offseason.


Shanahan still is a top-five play caller when he has a starting quarterback and a a full-set of weapons. But he doesn't have those things this year. And he has struggled to consistently get the most out of the players at his disposal.

The offensive line has been worse than the sum of its parts. Shanahan knew the interior offensive line was a major problem and didn't make any meaningful additions to it this offseason, unless you consider Tom Compton and Colton McKivitz meaningful additions. I don't.

The running game stinks because the 49ers don't have enough healthy running backs. Shanahan kept oft-injured Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman over undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed, who currently is the Miami Dolphins starting running back.

And Shanahan rarely gives the ball to one his best players on offense -- Kyle Juszczyk. Instead, Shanahan calls plays for Trent Taylor and River Cracraft, who shouldn't even be in the NFL.

At times, Shanahan seems terrific, like when he beat the Rams and Patriots. Other times, he seems bored with this season, like he's going through the motions and can't wait for it to end.

Maybe he'll coach better next season if he finally has the quarterback he wants, whoever that may be.