The 49ers have an accountability problem.
Ignoring any issue within an organization or in one’s own life and hoping that it simply remedies itself is rarely a recipe for success. For myself, this extra twenty pounds I’ve been lugging around my midsection seems inconvenient, but I’m naively certain that if I continue zero form of cardio, along with failing to properly nourish myself, it’ll all work itself out just fine in the end.
In the 49ers case, coming to terms with the fact that they still haven’t properly addressed their injury woes, even after firing their training staff following the 2018 season, has seemingly become a topic of non-discussion.
This particular problem should not be a shock to anyone -- injuries are starting to form Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch’s legacy. Even during their Super Bowl run, the 49ers faced a multitude of major player casualties and depletion to their roster depth. In fact, the 49ers have been one of the most injured teams in the league for about a full decade.
When asked to address the losses of Jeff Wilson Jr., Justin Skule, and Tavarius Moore for the majority of the season during training camp last week, Kyle Shanahan referred to each of the incidents as “three unfortunate injuries” and gave little further insight beyond “it being a bit depressing.” I'm not sure about you, but nothing gives me confidence that someone has a handle on an extremely serious situation quite like when they give the equivalent of a verbal shoulder shrug.
Shanahan then went on to bring up the fact that the team did not have training camp last season, but had four members of the team get injured during that time anyway. Injuries are just a “part of life” according to Shanahan, so nothing to see here, folks. Move along, please.
Life certainly can be pesky, but it's difficult to buy that reasoning given the fact that the three major injuries this year occurred while the players were under the 49ers direct supervision. In that sense, it’s actually a lot worse that the team failed to have the players ready and practicing in a way that prevented these catastrophes from occurring.
Shanahan continued: “To sit and say we’ll do training camp differently because someone got hurt getting out of a chair, because someone got hurt on air, and a person hurt his knee playing football would be pretty irresponsible of me and extremely reactionary.”
I could not agree more. Nothing is worse than a kneejerk reaction, except for one tiny footnote: THE 49ERS HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH INJURY ISSUES FOR THE ENTIRETY OF YOUR TENURE AND SEVERAL YEARS PRIOR, KYLE! This was not simply a one off incident that occurred because the planets aligned and someone farted at the wrong time. This is serious and it needs to be addressed at this point as if a pandemic has threatened the livelihood and future of the entire 49ers organization. So please, Kyle, be reactionary, do something rash, and literally get the entire building together in one room to make a point of how significant this problem has become and figure out the steps needed to rectify it.
When asked if the injuries bring him to think about handling training camp in a different way, Shanahan responded, “I think about everything, every single day, seven days a week.” Well, I had no idea that Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen was coaching the 49ers, but this revelation that Kyle Shanahan is an omnipotent, all-knowing being is big news for comic book nerds and 49ers fans alike.
In actuality, I am happy that Shanahan is constantly thinking about this stuff (and all other things at all times as he so eloquently put it), but you could have fooled me that he had the foresight to really think through how the media and fans might perceive his nonchalant responses during this press conference about the biggest threat to the 49ers upcoming season and the rest of Shanahan’s tenure with the team.
It feels safe to say that Shanahan has proven he is not the man to take accountability when times are at their toughest. The 49ers need someone who is willing to take the bullet, verbalize concern over the biggest threats to the team, and be honest about what those concerns are. Will Jed York be the man to take Shanahan’s place and put a plan into action to help address the injury woes instead? No, he seems better suited to firing people and sending off funny tweets. Perhaps John Lynch? Maybe, but he was hired by Shanahan, so I’m not sure if he feels like going around his boss on this one.
Whoever decides to finally step forward, I do hope that they and the 49ers end this practice of ignoring the elephant in the room. It hasn’t worked out well for me and my waistline, so I have my doubts that the 49ers and their injury woes will have any better results when it comes to simply hoping for the best.