Opening Statement:Good morning. Grinding through training camp right now. Its a great opportunity for us to look at guys and how they deal with the day in and day out, week after week. So much of the NFL season is how consistent guys can be day-to-day, week-to-week. So many players over the years Ive seen, just couldnt maintain a level of consistency mentally, physically, or emotionally. Thats the kind of stuff that affects a team as much as anything. Were getting a real good chance here to work with our players over the course of time. Were having physical practices and you get a real chance to see how they come to work day in and day out. Theres so much parity in the National Football League, as we all know. People that can come in day in and day out and you know what to expect from them as a coach, it makes planning that much easier. Very important component of what were evaluating is how a guy can come in and bring it every day. With that, Ill throw it out to you, any questions?How do you challenge a player mentally when he is exhausted? What are you looking for?I think as a coach, youre at all times seeing how a player is engaged in what youre doing. Some guys just jump off the screen at you, as guys that are fully engaged at all times with whats going on. Theyre not daydreaming. Theyre thinking strictly about whats happening to them at that time. Or theyre thinking about how what youre covering with them might affect them on game day. Guys that have a tendency to be a little less consistent, you definitely want to spend more time emphasizing how important it is to focus. So, its really player by player.Any guys that really jump out in that situation?Guys that to me and really to us as a staff we have a really good group of guys, number one. These guys are a really good group. I think that the guys that weve had here, are to a man, really good in that regard. The guys that weve acquired in free agency or the draft WR Randy Moss is a true professional, fully engaged at all times. WR Mario Manningham, I know RB Brandon Jacobs who is injured, the same way. I think were very fortunate that weve acquired some players that have that understanding of how important it is. As far as the young guys go, we talked last week about RB Kendall Hunter and FB Bruce Miller, how good they are. TE Delanie Walker is a guy, TE Vernon Davis has been phenomenal. Our quarterbacks are, and you have to be as a quarterback to have a chance. Really, to a man, the thing thats pleasing is that the players that we acquired are really 49er type of guys.Do you ever fear that you might -when youre grinding it out- that you might have a player who doesnt grind it out very well, but still is a really good player? Do you think, alright hes fading now, but once we get into the regular season where its not as arduous, he could be a great player for us? Do you have to have that in the back of your head at all?I think our approach is more, its one day at a time. You try to get that player to perform at his maximum every day and understand the importance of that. And then it will be what it is. I dont think we take a break on that at all, or assume too much. I dont think you can assume. The way we look at it, what you do today is what youre going to do the first week of the season. Thats just something thats just fundamental with what we do. Its truly one day at a time. We had a great day yesterday -well its over. We had a bad day yesterday -its over. What can we learn from it? How can it make us better? Now its all about the next day.Now that Moss and Manningham are on the team, can we expect more long passes in the games?It all depends on who were playing. If theyre playing way off, then I doubt it. If theyre playing up close, I would say yes.T Anthony Davis is going to be going against Broncos LB Von Miller early in the game. He is a quick, runs the arc well. Are you looking forward to seeing that matchup in terms of Davis against a smaller, quicker type of pass rusher?Thats a good question. I think Denver has two really good edge players in 58 and 92 there, Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil and Miller. Theyre really good, productive players. Like you said, they can run that hoop pretty well and trim the fat there on the edge good. With crowd noise behind them, it will be great work for us. It will really be good work for us. I think just the way their defense is built right now with those two players coming off the edges, its tremendous work for us. We have to be on our A game.Who are your starting wide receivers?All of them. Theyre all starters right now. If we got into five wide receivers grouped the first play of the game, then five receivers would be our starters. If we had one wide receiver the first play of the game, then one wide receiver would be our starter. Theyre all contributors and theyre all competing right now for a role. How they compete, what they show they can do well, that will kind of carve out a role whether it be small, large. Its definitely a very competitive situation. Weve got some good guys there. Real fortunate.Yesterday, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told us he wants more of his reserve safeties to step up and take that backup role behind S Dashon Goldson and S Donte Whitner. Are there still some areas offensively, going into this third game you want to see more of that?Singling out a particular position, obviously early on there were a lot of questions about who the right guard was going to be. At this very moment all I can report to you is that GT Alex Boone has done a very good job and continues to get better. The wide receiver position- weve got a lot of good ones. Our mindset is, well how can we use all of them? Why should we just play two or three of them and let two of them sit there and gather dust? I think that will continue to avail itself there and how we can use them. The backup quarterback position is a battle, its ongoing. Well see how that unfolds. The way we look at it, football is a rough game and were trying to create depth as we go. You never know whats going to happen. Were trying to coach everybody, evaluate them every day. Youre trying to build contingency plans as you develop your starters. The way we look, at it, all scenarios are possible because you never know whats going to happen. We had a couple guys get nicked in the game the other night, right? So, you better have a contingency plan, you better be coaching the backups at really every position. Pretty pleased though with how our offense is approaching practice. Were getting a lot of stuff done, covering a lot of ground. Weve got a lot of work to do still.How did RB Anthony Dixon do in those short yardage scenarios that probably would have gone to Brandon Jacobs had he been healthy?I thought Anthony had a really good game. The first third and one, were not really game planning preseason games, but they kind of had us outnumbered there. Anthony basically was his own blocker to get us that first down. The second short yardage situation, which was a fourth and short, Anthony got everything that was blocked for him. So, I thought Anthony had one of his best games since Ive been here. And was very pleased with his physicality, his preparation and how he played. He did a great job. He needs to have another great one this week.Why do you think the offense will be better on third downs this season compared to last season?Thats a good question. I think time on task. I think number one, a very wise man said this to me and I found it to be true, you can look at statistics and thats great, because anybody can look at statistics. But the thing you want to know is why are these statistics the way they are? Thats really what youre looking at. When you look at statistics, whether it be third down scoring, rushing yards, whatever, OK, why was your third down percentage what it was? Thats the real question. And as we studied it in the offseason and really throughout the season last year, it was really just a lack of execution, a lack of cohesion. I would attribute that to really just time on task. And I would fully expect our third down production to be much better due to the fact that weve got a lot more time invested in it, and I think its that simple. Now youve got to go out and do it. Just going out and practicing it doesnt guarantee you a thing. But I would fully expect our third down production to be better starting with time on task, guys knowing what to do, what spots theyre going to be in, all the multiple coverages, protection. Its a laundry list really. But, really the best third down teams are generally really efficient in the passing game on all downs and really good in short yardage situations. Thats just something I think will happen with our development, our evolution.Will your first team offense play more this game than they have the first two games? Do you expect them to?Thats possible. Not for sure right now. Thats possible, not for sure.What areas have you seen QB Alex Smith take his biggest strides in your second year working with him?Just knowing what words mean to start with. Everything. Everything. Totally understands the offense. Now he can recite things. He can fix things. Understands where people are. When we go back and look at our first early games last season, just getting through a straight progression was a work in progress relative to what it was late in the season, relative to what it is now. Hes getting through his reads quicker. Hes eliminating reads earlier and really just taking ownership of our offense. He understands all the different things that we do and hes really, really, really intelligent. Bright football player. Really intelligent. He is super smart. Savant-like at times and has great ideas. I suppose its like when youre married the first couple months, the first six months or whatever, youre kind of still getting to know where the toothpaste goes and whatnot. And then after a while you get to know somebody and thats kind of how Alex is with our offense.You mentioned savant-like, which is high praise. Anything caught your mind as far as what youve seen of Alex?You can have a play call thats 15 words long and if he sees it, he can just recite it. He doesnt need to look at anything to recite it. And then lets just say the person typing that play in made a mistake. Hell fix it right away without even blinking. Ive yet to see that from anybody. Thats just a quick snippet of his understanding of things and how quickly hell pick something up. If I sit there and study something for hours on end, Ill pick it up too. But the first time out, hes pretty sharp.Is there an area where you focus more on certain teachings with Alex Smith than head coach Jim Harbaugh does? Is there another thing that quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst does?Theres no real specific area, but we definitely all work together with him. It covers all areas. Its just a team effort all around.What about when Alex is in the pocket trying to elude with the pass rush? It seemed the sack numbers were high last year?Yeah, wed like to get those numbers down, bottom line. Some of the sacks he took, I thought were what I would call smart sacks. But far too many of them were unforced errors, lack of execution on our part. Thats something that has to improve. And thats not just the offensive line. Thats receivers getting open, tight ends getting open, tight ends blocking, backs blocking, receivers that have to make hot adjustments. The one thing that Alex did through all that, did a historically great job of protecting the football, historically great. We look for more of that as well.Has he had a straight incompletion yet? It seems like either someone was dropping it or hes throwing it away. It doesnt look like hes just all out.No, hes been pretty sharp. I think a couple of them have been six inches here or there. But hes been really sharp thus far. I think thats pretty accurate.There was a 2nd and 7 the last game against the Houston Texans, Alex threw an accurate pass to TE Vernon Davis and he dropped it. It looked like WR Randy Moss was breaking open deep. After looking at the film, did Alex make the right read and make the right throw?In case somebody from an opponent is reading this, I dont want to let them know about our quarterback reads. But I thought it was the appropriate decision. Theres times when a quarterback has to make a quick decision. And, let me put it to you this way, how open was Randy? How open was Vernon? Was Vernon that much open hand gestures, that much, that, that hand gestures? Its going to be different every time. Randy, leverage, whos the corner? Where is he? Leverage. Its going to be different every time. Hes got to make that decision quickly. And, generally speaking when you run somebody on a shorter route and one on a deeper, if its man-to-man coverage, youre generally going to look to the shorter route first because hell probably be open quicker. And thats not true of all plays, but I thought it was a good throw and I know Vernon was pretty upset that he didnt grab it.
SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.
Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.
“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”
Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.
The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.
“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.
“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”
After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.
As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.
“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”
SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.
Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.
Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.
“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).
“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”
Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.
Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.
Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.
Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.
There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.
“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”
Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.
“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.
“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”
Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.
“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.
“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”
The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.
Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.
“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.
“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”
During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.
“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”
Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.
Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’
“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”