Grant Cohn: No more honeymoon for 49ers coach after awful effort against Dallas

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan before a game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


Dear Kyle,

Everyone has given you every break. When your record was 0-6, everyone said you had a bad roster, you lost close games. People gave you a grace period. It’s over.

You don’t deserve a grace period when you get embarrassed like you did against the Cowboys last Sunday. Now we’re going to judge you the way we judged Chip Kelly, Jim Tomsula and Jim Harbaugh. It’s put up or shut up time. Despite your six-year contract, your reputation is on the line even more than your players’.

Everything changed with that Cowboys game. Before Dallas (B.D.), you and the team and the media could disseminate propaganda that the 49ers were coming close to winning games and making progress. That narrative exploded after Dallas (A.D.).

Your team wasn’t prepared. Wasn’t up for the game. Didn’t play hard. Quit as soon as one bad thing happened. The defense, which was pathetic, gave up immediately after Trent Taylor fumbled following the first defensive series. And the offense gave up shortly after.

Were those close B.D. games an illusion? Are these the real 49ers that we saw on Sunday? The 49ers that got their butts kicked?

Of course you don’t have a great roster, but that loss to the Cowboys is on you. If you get credit for almost winning games earlier in the season, you get credit for that humiliating loss, too.

It’s amazing how your entire attitude changed A.D. You had been talking about how easily your team could be 5-1 B.D., said with a few breaks you’d have five wins. Now, you’re making excuses, talking about a long-term plan and how losing is a necessary part of it. How winning this year isn’t the main goal. Dealing with adversity is more important. Don’t judge me harshly. Puh-puh-please go easy on me. Whimpering.

You gave the worst pregame speech in the history of pregame speeches the night before the Dallas fiasco. And you were proud of it. You bragged about it Monday to the media. You told us how you brought the team together Saturday night for its pregame meeting and educated your players about the 1979 49ers.

The players probably were expecting some sort of General Patton, take-no-prisoners speech where you would motivate them and explain how they would beat the Cowboys. Instead, you gave them a history lesson filled with excuses for you.

I imagine your speech went something like this:

“In 1979, there was an awful team with awful players that won only two games. Man, those players were garbage. But the team had a great head coach named Bill Walsh, who eventually overcame the awful players and replaced them with better players and won the Super Bowl in 1981.

“We’re just like the 1979 49ers, in the sense that I’m Walsh and you’re the awful players. Soon, I will get rid of most of you. You guys suck. Now, let’s go lose.”

And you lost.

Which was good, according to your speech. You have to lose games to build a good team. Your logic is like a pretzel. It goes in so many different directions. It’s hard to keep things straight.

If you indeed had the mindset to lose, you were really successful against the Cowboys. You were down 40-3 at one point. That was before your offense scored a touchdown during garbage time when the Cowboys were playing prevent defense and their safeties were so far back they were in Morgan Hill.

A.D. changed everything. You’re no longer the coach of a team that loses close games and makes progress. You’re the coach of a team that lost a far game, was far away from winning. You’ll play another far game Sunday against the Eagles.

And you want us to believe you know what you’re doing. You want us to judge you on faith, not the reality of your record. Sorry, you don’t get faith and you don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Chip Kelly didn’t get the benefit of the doubt, and he had won a game by this point in the season. Jim Tomsula won two games by this point. When did Tomsula say, “It’s a long-term plan, be kind to me”?

He didn’t.

We want to see you win a game, Kyle, something you’ve never done. Based on record, which is all that counts, you’re currently worse than Tomsula and Kelly and Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan and Dennis Erickson until you prove otherwise.

And please, spare us the comparisons to Bill Walsh.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at