SANTA CLARA – In the meeting rooms at team headquarters, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has impressed players with his ability to dissect a play from the perspective of both the offense and defense.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer is accustomed to Shanahan’s clinical explanation of what makes a play succeed or fail from their time together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. In those days, Shanahan spoke only to one side of the ball as the offensive coordinator.
Now, as head coach, Shanahan stands in front of the entire team. Veteran players – on both sides of the ball -- have expressed amazement with Shanahan’s level of detail.
“I remember I was sitting right there in that seat and (linebacker) Dekoda Watson was right next to me and we went over our running play for about 10 minutes and Kyle just talked about gap scheme and which players defended for that,” Hoyer said. “And Dekoda was like ‘Man, I never even knew that. I was just out there playing. I just do what my coaches told me to do.’ To see it explained that way, it was really cool for me to see him respond to him that way.”
On Saturday, Shanahan gave the media a glimpse of his ability to break down a play when NBC Sports Bay Area asked him the elements that enabled wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to get open down the field for a long touchdown pass from Hoyer.
“It was a zone coverage,” Shanahan said. “We motioned to it. You have a safety as a curl-flat player and you have a linebacker as a hook player and when you motion empty they have to switch, and so they change two quick responsibilities and we snap it and they communicate and if, when you talk to someone for half a second and you have a 4.3 (speed) guy in the slot and he’s gone, you can’t hesitate. He’s wide open.
“So it’s just about going, being fast and changing a little bit of your formation and watching two defensive guys talk. That’s why you’ve got to walk-through so much. That’s why you’ve got to rep. It happens fast and when you want to change something, if there’s any hesitation, they can make you pay.”
Shanahan said it was a great for experience for coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense to see that particular play and get a valuable practice rep so the adjustment can be made quicker in the future and the mistake avoided in an actual game.
“Great route,” Shanahan said. “It’s perfect, and if we wouldn’t have had that play called, they would have never saw that and then people are like, ‘No, you’ve got to communicate. Great.’ Yeah, we got it. You don’t really know until you can make them pay and now they know, ‘Yeah, Saleh’s right. We do have to communicate pretty fast.’ What if they had that called? So those are the things you hope for for both sides of the ball. Makes the offense feels good, but I guarantee the next time we do that formation of play, they’ll cover it.”