San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has always been a hard worker behind the scenes -- especially when it comes to his offense. The former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator orchestrated a unit that led the league in points scored and got Matt Ryan and Co. to Super Bowl LI. He parlayed that season into his first head-coaching gig, and while it took him some time to get going, his 49ers broke out in a big way in 2019.
San Francisco went 13-3 and made it all the way to Super Bowl LIV, where they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs. With a legitimate starter under center in Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers averaged 381.1 yards per game, which ranked fourth in the NFL, and 144.1 rushing yards per game, which ranked second in the NFL. Shanahan and the 49ers appear to be on the cusp of something special, and they aren't going to let this offseason go to waste. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected in-person meetings and other training sessions, Shanahan is using the extra time to pick the brains of his players and dive even further into film. During a recent interview with The Athletic, Shanahan revealed that he has dedicated full 90-minute sessions to dissect just one play.
"I show that play 60 different ways and we go through all the different variations of it," Shanahan said. "I've never been able to do that. Usually, I've gotta talk about 10 plays in that hour and a half. And what sticks out about those 10 plays? Not much. It gets very diluted.
"Now, that film study is very concentrated."
Shanahan has also been impressed by how his assistants have handled positional meetings. He will usually hop in and out of different Zoom sessions to check in on the different groups. Overall, the 49ers are fine conducting these virtual meetings since it has given them extra time to study game film and learn the playbook. Shanahan even quipped that players might be able to coach meetings now because the staff has preached technical details so relentlessly.
"But they gotta go apply it on the field," Shanahan said. "We need to see them do that. We need to film them. We need to come back in and watch how they move — 'All right, you're articulating it this way but obviously you're running it this way, so obviously you're hearing it different.' That's just coaching and that's what we're working through."
The 49ers have clearly made the most out of their extra time this offseason, but as Shanahan said, he wants to see his team apply their knowledge effectively out on the practice field. If they indeed can do that, these virtual meetings could be something that helps push the 49ers even closer to capturing a Lombardi trophy.