Everyone knew that the 2017 season would be the beginning of a process that could take some time. Even with those expectations in place, an 0-7 record isn't easy for anyone to swallow. After a run of five-straight losses by three points or less, the Dallas Cowboys sent the San Francisco 49ers back to the drawing board in Week 7.
The 40-10 defeat last Sunday at Levi's® Stadium will test the resolve of San Francisco's locker room.
"I think everything happens for a reason, and I'm going to make sure that us going through this that we're going to be better from it," said Kyle Shanahan on Monday. "And obviously no one wants to be 0-7, but I think we have very high expectations of where we want our team and this organization to go. And I see this as part of that process. Yeah I wish it could be a different process, I wish it could be fun and games and easy for everybody, but I see this is as a necessity to get to where we want to be."
With that, here's this week's mailbag.
Aside from winning, which is always the goal each week, the 49ers need to continue to learn about their personnel. By season's end, John Lynch and Shanahan need to have an understanding of which players they want to be a part of the long-term plan.
Whose skill set fits the scheme? Who is reliable in times of adversity? Who is on an upward trend yet to reach his ceiling?
Hopefully there won't be many unknowns entering the offseason in that regard. That will help San Francisco's brain trust know which positions are most important to target in the free agency as well as the 2018 NFL Draft.
Eric Reid is a player to monitor in the coming weeks. We knew that the coaching staff would have to get creative in order to get Reid, Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward on the field at the same time. For now, it seems that Robert Saleh has decided that Reid is best suited to play in a linebacker role while Tartt remains at strong safety.
It is important to keep in mind that what Reid is being asked to do isn't that different from the role of a strong safety in Saleh's defense.
"Last week we thought we had an opportunity to get Eric at linebacker, which is really what he plays a lot when he's a down safety, which is every play except on third and long," Shanahan said.
I've received lots of questions about the upcoming offseason. Everyone knows that the 49ers are going to have a ton of cap space in 2018. It's the kind of cash that wouldn't hinder San Francisco from signing other free agents even if it did pony up in a potential quarterback sweepstakes.
Lynch and Shanahan are ultimately going to go after whichever quarterback they believe to be the best long-term option. I still maintain that it's far too soon to forecast what will happen in March and April when we have no idea which college quarterbacks will declare, where the 49ers will be drafting and whether or not they will target specific a free agent.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made it pretty clear on Tuesday that Martavis Bryant will not be traded. Bryant isn't a free agent until 2019, so to answer the second part of your question, I have no idea.
We should get a Kyle Juszczyk update on Wednesday when the week's first practice participation report is released. He didn't practice at all last week, so if he returns to work on Wednesday, it would only be on a limited basis.
Do you think Kyle Shanahan will continue to be head coach AND offensive coordinator next year, or just head coach & bring in a play caller? — Scott Hansen (@SheboyganScott) October 24, 2017
Shanahan hasn't said anything that indicates there will be changes in the structure of the offensive coaching staff.
There is something in the works. Please stay tuned! More info will be released on the 49ers social media accounts very soon.