SANTA CLARA — Looking at the standings, you’d think the 49ers and New York Giants were in similar situations.
One team is 0-9. The other is 1-7. And both are thoroughly hopeless when it comes to turning this season into anything memorable. But don’t tell that to Ben McAdoo.
When asked how he motivates his team that is not heading to the playoffs, the Giants head coach got defiant.
“We’ve been eliminated?” McAdoo responded.
“I’m not ready to go without a fight, that’s for sure.”
You won’t hear that kind of delusion from Kyle Shanahan.
Instead, the 49ers head coach is like Neo from the Matrix, fighting off everyone demanding the 49ers show more urgency in the treatment of Jimmy Garoppolo.
“We’re not trying to make a decision based off of what our record is, based off of that I know everyone is very excited and wants to see him play, including myself, including our coaches and players, including my wife,” Shanahan said Wednesday.
In Santa Clara, patience is a virtue. In New Jersey, urgency is making everything uglier.
McAdoo gave an “I believe we have a run in us” speech on Wednesday, according to Newsday, but the Giants players aren’t exactly offering their head coach a vote of confidence.
According to ESPN, McAdoo has lost the support of his players.
“Guys are giving up on the season and nothing’s being done,” an anonymous player told reporter Josina Anderson. “Guys just don’t care anymore.”
At issue is the coach’s practice schedule, which involves practicing on Saturdays, as well as the fines he’s given to players and the suspension of both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins.
Players going on the record to slam their coach, even anonymously, is an extra step that usually portends a coach’s imminent firing. If the Giants lose on Sunday, it would be a major blow to McAdoo’s hopes of finishing the season.
It’s been that big of a fall for the head coach who led his team to an 11-5 record last season and had reasonable people predicting the Giants would be a Super Bowl contender this year.
Shanahan hasn’t been burdened with those kinds of expectations. He constantly makes it clear that he inherited a subpar roster and that the franchise’s assets were a major draw. (Merely mentioning assets indicates he’s thinking beyond this season).
Shanahan wants to rebuild the 49ers according to his own vision. McAdoo is struggling to sustain the success laid out by his predecessor.
Even if he goes 0-16, Shanahan’s job will be secure. But it would do wonders for the locker room — and Jed York’s treasured “winning culture” — to get that first victory before the bye week.
Because after that, tackle Joe Staley — who returned to practice in limited fashion on Wednesday — should be back. And when Staley is back, and the line is equipped to protect its quarterback, it’s Jimmy G time. And once the future-of-the-franchise is under center, those pesky expectations follow.
Look no further than McAdoo to see how expectations, reasonable or not, can complicate matters for a young, offensive-minded coach.