SAN FRANCISCO -- In their renaissance season, the 49ers relied on their defense and the best turnover-ratio in the NFL -- plus-28.Against the New York Giants in the NFC title game, the defense was solid if not spectacular. But the 49ers failed to force a turnover. Not a fumble recovery. Not an interception of Eli Manning.Giants 20, 49ers 17. In overtime."I mean, it's just, we lost," said defensive tackle Justin Smith. "So, that's really all there is to say you know?Then, what about Manning?
"I mean he's a really good quarterback, and will make you pay when you lose the turnover-differential," Smith acknowledged. "I mean, it's like that every week. That's how we won a lot of games and that's how we lost."The Giants compiled 199 yards of offense in the first half, and the 49ers limited them to 153 yards in the second half and overtime.So what adjustments did the defense make?"Just a few things here and there," Smith said. "But mainly, they got a little more predictable and (started) throwing the ball quite a bit more and that makes it a little bit easier to tee off."But an apparent Ahmad Bradshaw fumble late in the fourth quarter and deep in Giants territory that was recovered by the 49ers and would have set them up for a potential game-winning field goal did not happen. Not officially, anyway.Bradshaw was ruled down."I just felt like that was one of those plays in the game where you can't put your finger on it," said inside linebacker Patrick Willis. "The rules are what they are and the referees call what they call. It is what it is."They say it was forward progress stopped, therefore it is not a fumble. That's what we have to live with."Which is tough for such an opportunistic defense. The 49ers lost a pair of fumbles on punt returns."Life goes on, it's not the end of the world," Smith said. "I mean, it's hard to swallow but, they beat us. They were better than us today. They deserve to go to the Super Bowl. That's how these games shake out. It's hard to swallow but what else are you going to do?"We got to the NFC championship gameand it gives us something to build on and come back and hopefully we can get back to it and win it and go the distance. I mean, I really don't have the words right now, guys."
First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.
Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.
Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.
Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:
2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright
* * *
2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama
John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.
The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.
But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.
The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.
Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).
Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.
The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.
Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.