Coach Kyle Shanahan is still wrestling with last season’s Super Bowl loss, and he is not hiding from that. He is also excited at the 49ers’ legitimate shot at redemption this coming season.
Shanahan shared those views during a 49ers’ State-of-the-Franchise virtual show that streamed Wednesday for season-ticket holders and the media, ahead of Thursday’s reveal to the general public.
In a nearly 10-minute interview with 49ers announcer Greg Papa, Shanahan covered a variety of topics. It was taped last week, so he was not asked how one unidentified player is coping after testing positive for COVID-19, how receivers Deebo Samuel and Richie James are recovering from recents fractures, nor what led Shanahan to last week sign a new contract through 2025.
Shanahan was not made available for follow-up questions by reporters.
Here is a recap of four topics he did cover:
1. Recovering from Super Bowl collapse:
Shanahan: “Everyone knows, the way last year finished, we had as good of an opportunity as you can ever have to be a champion. We came up just short. That, by all means, is exactly what we’re going for this year.
“… We came up one to three plays short of a world championship, it’s been hard to sit with all offseason. It’s also something I’m very proud of with the state of the franchise. We didn’t luckily get there.
“We earned that. We earned that by doing it the right way. We earned that by playing very good football on offense, defense and special teams. We did it with an entire team. You look at the numbers across our whole team with how we how we played — offense defense ran the ball, threw the ball, turnovers, everything – it was as good of a football team as I’ve ever been a part of.
“I know we were good enough to win that Super Bowl and we didn’t. That’s something we have to live with. That’s why the state of the franchise now is we have to get right back to that moment. We have to get right back to that fourth quarter, and get to have a lead and we’ve got to finish the job.
“It’s been weird with this quarantine and being in the offseason. I still feel like 2020 just started. Now we’re a month away and I can’t wait to get started.”
2. On Jimmy Garoppolo projections
Shanahan: “Jimmy had an unbelievable year last year. When you look at him statistically with what he did, he’s extremely accurate, got us in very good situations and won a few games for us, too. We had a number of games he had to came out huge on third-and-long and last-minute drives and make big plays that won us some games.
“Coming off what he had with the AC, and … where he took us all the way up to the Super Bowl, came up a little bit short, our entire team. But Jimmy was one of the better quarterbacks in the league this year and there’s still a ton of room to grow, though. He knows that. I know that. To have only one (full) year in this league and for him to do what he did, it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to get started with him this year and I expect him to get better and better each week.”
3. On left tackle luck
Shanahan: “I’ve been so fortunate in the places I’ve been to be with some of the best tackles in this league: from Joe Staley (2017-19) to Trent Williams (2010-13 in Washington), being with Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns, 2016), and Duane Brown when I was in Houston (2008-09). I’ve been with some real good ones. To lose one like Joe was crushing, and he had to do it. It wasn’t something he had much of a choice on; it was the right decision for him and his family. As a player, he’s very hard to replace.
“When a guy like Trent is randomly available like that, that was the first draft pick we made when we were in Washington. To be with Trent as a rookie, he was as valuable as any player we’d been around. He’s a guy I truly believe could play (3-technique defensive tackle) in this league if he wanted to. He’s a guy if he goes to the basketball court, he plays point guard just as well as he plays center. He’s that type of athlete. It’s pretty neat. Joe Staley was similar like that.
“Whenever you can deal with O-linemen like that, who have that type of athletic ability and size, it’s a huge advantage in our game.”
4. On virtual offseason
Shanahan: “From just a meeting-room standpoint, we’ve been able to do more this offseason than we ever have. The negative is you can only do so much. We’re not training these guys to learn how to coach. We’re training them how to use their bodies.
“They’re going to miss 10 practices in OTAs and minicamp that real crucial to get ready to go and give rookies a chance. … It’s going to be really hard for some guys, and some guys it won’t affect as much depending on their makeup. But it definitely is a challenge.”