Jim Haslett and Kyle Shanahan have been the respective defensive and offensive coordinator's for this team the past 3 years through the present regime. And both have failed in getting their respective units to excel at that most crucial of football plays, the third down.
NO play in football is more important than a third down play IMHO.
Make the necessary yardage on offense, you keep momentum and drives alive.
Stop the opponent on defense, and you flip momentum and get your offense back onto the field.
It's the 'money' down. Most times, first and second down sets you up for the crucial 3rd, where you HAVE to bring your A game. If you don't succeed on third down, chances are you won't succeed in the game.
On offense, through Kyle's three years here, we're currently running at a shocking 32% third down conversion rate. (156/ 487.). In less than a third of the total third downs we've had the advantage of lining up for them, we've failed miserably. And this season it's regressing even more.
To date in 2012, we've made a whopping 14 of 60 third downs (23%), leaving the team currently dead last in the league in the category. In his first year, 2010, we ranked 31st with 29% made. (61/ 208.). Last year we improved to middle of the pack at 15th with 37% made. (81/ 219.).
If we don't hit on a big play in the first two downs, more often than not the D is gona' be coming back onto the field. You can't sustain progression as an offense, which we're all agreed is happening thanks to that very special dude in the #10 jersey; if you can't keep the unit on the darn field the majority of drives.
On the other side of the ball, we don't fair much better than a middle of the road unit on third down stops.
Richie Petitbon, our greatest ever DC, and a defensive mind up there with the best of them from any era; used to say only two defensive stats mattered to him. Takeaways and third down stops.
Obviously Haslett didn't get the memo.
Through his time here, we're running at 36% at getting the opposing offense off the field in third down situations. (176 stops from 481 attempts.). Not shockingly bad. But far from top end if you ever want to seriously compete for honors again. Leaving us averagely around the middle of the pack.
This year to date, we lie 13th in the league with 24 third down stops out of 61 we've faced. (39%). That's up slightly on last years 17th ranking, with 77 stops from 206 situations. (37%.). And a slight increase on 2010's 35% third down success rate. (75/ 214- 25th in the NFL.).
The defense HAS to start applying more pressure and bringing it on third downs to get the opposition off the field. We need more stops and more momentum changes.
And the OC HAS to figure out a way to keep his unit on the field and start converting crucial third downs. Or else all the talent given to him in the World will just continue to go to waste.
This is one area, both sides of the ball, that there can no longer be ANY excuses for. Both guys are in the third year of their systems, with increased talent at their disposal.
Third down success in the grand scheme of things could go a long way to contributing to both guys keeping their jobs or not.