A good football team has an indentity.
In 2019, the 49ers were a good team, and their identity was clear -- they ran the ball, there was nothing you could do to stop them and the more they ran, the more likely they were to win.
The 49ers ranked 9th in yards per carry and 2nd in rushing attempts in 2019. This season, the 49ers rank 13th in yards per carry, but just 17th in rushing attempts. During their most recent loss -- a humiliating defeat to the Arizona Cardinals junior varsity team -- head coach Kyle Shanahan called 49 passes and just 10 runs. So out of character.
"Good teams have an identity," a veteran player on the 49ers told Mike Silver after Sunday's loss. "Ours — what is it? We’ve just got to keep pressing to find it."
It's Week 10 and the 49ers are pressing to find an identity they once had. Weird.
I asked Jimmy Garoppolo what the identity of the current team is. Here's what he said: "You know, I think that kind of just comes naturally. You never want to say this is our identity at the beginning of the year and we have to stick to it. I think with injuries, as the season progresses, your identity kind of changes with the season in a way. And I think we've had some games where our identity is clear cut and, like Chicago, we ran the ball very well and hit some play action off of it. And I think we're just trying to find that still."
Translation: The 49ers are a run-first team. That's the identity. When Shanahan commits to the run, the 49ers have a chance to win. When they abandon the run, they tend to lose. And no one knows why Shanahan keeps abandoning the run when it's working.
Let's see if he runs the ball against the Rams this Monday night. It's his only chance to win and save the 49ers season.