Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers

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Swain bringing experience to upstart 49ers

Hes appeared on the cover of surfing magazines and has played on the NFLs biggest stage. But for the most part, 49ers receiver Brett Swain flies under the radar.

Pretty neat guy. He comes in, hes down to business, down to earth, knows his stuff and always ready, said teammate Ted Ginn.

Swain came to the 49ers when Joshua Morgan went on injured reserve with a broken leg. The San Diego native beat out T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Chambers, Brian Finneran, Joe Hastings, and John Matthews for the roster spot.

Constant hustle is what we see from Brett, said offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Brett came in, obviously didnt have training camp with us, did a great job. We thought we worked out one of the best group of guys that I have been around during an in-season workout, and he won that workout really and earned his way on the team. He just hustles, hustles, hustles. Very much into precision with his routes, smooth. Hes got good hands. Hes got good quickness. Well be running the ball on right sideline, hell be on the left and hell always end up in the picture, so that jumps off the screen.

Swain appeared in all 20 games for the Super Bowl winning Packers last season, but has mostly remained inactive for the 49ers this season. Swain is one of only two players on the roster that has played in the Super Bowl and has experienced the mindset needed to make a run in the playoffs. So, I asked him about it.

Mindi Bach: The goal in the NFL is to get a Super Bowl ring. You are one of two people in this locker room to have that experience. What is this like for you as you see this team try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. What comes to mind for you?

Brett Swain: Well, first of all, you see the same tendencies in this team that you see in a Super Bowl team. I was with the Packers last year. We had a long run, a full season and we had our ups and downs. This season is a little different for me. Ive never been on a team thats been 9 and 2. Were having a great season. We hit a little bump in the road last week, so maybe that was good for us because now we can get back on track and get back on what we need to do to get back into the playoffs and win those games.

Bach: In your short career, is it strange to think you already have a Super Bowl ring and here you are with another team on its way to the playoffs?

Swain: Yea, for sure. It could be luck, it could not be. But I think a staff realizes what players fit good in good teams, and this is a good team. And I feel like when I came here to try out the coaches saw that Id be a good team player and thats what its all about to win Super Bowls - to have a great team, have great chemistry within the locker room and just overall be a great team going into the playoffs.

Bach: Greg Roman says what stood out about you, he was surprised how you out-hustled everybody else. Where did that drive come from?

Swain: Ive kind of had an up and down career myself. I was drafted in the seventh-round to the Packers. I went there, got cut my first year, had to practice squad-it, and luckily I was able to practice with guys that kind of went down the same road. Al Harris is a big guy. He was a defensive back for the Packers for a long time, really taught me how to practice and what it takes to be good in this league and also even try to make a team. He taught me how to practice, taught me how to work out, just taught me how to work and be a professional. And I feel like that was a good stepping-stone to my career. So having that background and then just having the guys that I came from with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, having a locker room like that pushes you. So when you come here you just kind of bring what youve learned in the past. I think that the experience I have is just working hard and being a professional.

Bach: Have any of the other receivers asked you about that Super Bowl Ring?

Swain: Not yet. I put the Super Bowl ring back in San Diego. I left that back at home. That was the biggest thing for us winning last year was, put it back in the box when the new season starts and leaving it back because there are new goals for the next season and you want to make that same goal and go get another one.

Bach: You are from San Diego, you played at San Diego State. What was your familiarity with Harbaugh before you came to this team?

Swain: He was at USD and I was at San Diego State.

Bach: You didnt play each other, though?

Swain: No, we didnt play each other. We were kind of cross-town rivals. We did little passing leagues in the offseason. I dont think we played them when Harbaugh was there, but as players we're always trying to push for that game. We thought it would be a great competitive game, especially with USD winning as many games as they did, to get a D-1, D-2 game going. We really wanted it as players it just didnt work out. We thought it was great to see another San Diego team winning. We werent winning at the same time so we we're kind of jealous a little bit. That is what we we're familiar with Harbaugh. And being from San Diego I watched him growing up. He was with the Chargers for a season, and actually that season I had season tickets. I was there every Sunday watching Harbaugh play and its good to be with a guy that kind of understands that.

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

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.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

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.”