There will be plenty of change on the 49ers roster in 2019, but the coaching staff will remain the same – despite a 4-12 season.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch addressed the media this week after finishing the season with a loss to the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles, and Shanahan said he wants to keep his entire staff, including defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Saleh’s defense was criticized often in 2018, and for good reason. The Niners gave up 27.2 points per game – fifth worst in the league – and set a record for the fewest takeaways (seven) and interceptions (two) in a season.
But Shanahan, now done with his second season leading the team, obviously believes it’s a lack of talent, not coaching, that is the culprit.
“I’m with him every day, so I know how good of a coach he is,” Shanahan told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I know how he is schematically. I know how he is dealing with the players. I know what he can handle just with his personality and how smart he is.”
Shanahan points to the fact the 49ers over the past two years have improved significantly in defending the run. This season, San Francisco allowed just two backs to run for 100 or more yards and ranked No. 14 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
“I think we went from one of the worst defenses stopping the run in the history of football to being a pretty sound defense versus the run,” said Shanahan. The season before Shanahan and Saleh arrived, the 49ers were last in the league in run defense.
The 49ers were a team without edge rushers and playmaking linebackers and had an injury-ravaged secondary. With some new talent this offseason, Shanahan is betting Saleh and the defense will be much improved in 2019.
The 49ers go into the offseason with an expected salary-cap space of $60 million, the No. 2 pick in the draft and top playmakers Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon back from injury. Lynch believes the future is bright.
Lynch says there’s more competition now on the roster and that will create more wins.
“I think we’re poised to be able to add to that,” Lynch told the media. “I think the more we do of that and continue to add good players, the more we’re able to allow guys to compete.”