Shanahan's debut: One regret, one apology, one loss


Shanahan's debut: One regret, one apology, one loss

SANTA CLARA – A day later, Kyle Shanahan had one regret and made one apology from his first game as an NFL head coach.

Shanahan’s 49ers opened the season on Sunday with a 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

Shanahan, who doubles as his own offensive coordinator, showed an aversion to punting the ball in the middle of the field. And it backfired both times in the first half that he kept his offense on the field for fourth downs.

Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, the 49ers went for it on a fourth-and-4 situation from the Panthers’ 44-yard line. Quarterback Brian Hoyer was sacked for an 8-yard sack when Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis pushed his way past running back Carlos Hyde.

The Panthers capitalized by moving the ball just 27 yards to set up a field goal.

On the 49ers’ next possession, the 49ers failed on a fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 45 when fullback Kyle Juszczyk was stuffed for no gain. Shanahan said he did not regret that decision or the play call – a fullback dive against a team with five defensive backs on the field. The Panthers also turned their prime field position into a field goal to take a 13-0 lead at the half.

But, Shanahan admitted, the first time to go for it on fourth down was not sound strategy. The 49ers took over after safety Jaquiski Tartt made a one-handed interception and 37-yard return to the 49ers’ 38-yard line.

“Looking back at all of them, the first one is the one I regretted, when it was fourth and 4,” Shanahan said Monday during his day-after-game press conference. “I think there was about three and a half minutes left (in the first half). We were down seven. Tartt just made an unbelievable play on a pick. I thought we were moving the ball pretty well and came up short there on third down, and I just, I believed we were going to get it. I had a lot confidence that we would and it just didn't work out. But, definitely looking back on that, I wish I did punt because I think it would have made it a lot harder for them to go 90 yards.”

In all, the 49ers were just one of four on fourth-down conversions. They would have had another chance, trailing 23-0, but Shanahan did not get a timeout called before a fourth-and-1 opportunity. The 49ers were called for a delay penalty despite Shanahan’s late attempt to signal for a timeout.

Shanahan was shown on TV berating down judge Hugo Cruz. Shanahan said he has made that mistake before. In 2012, while serving as Washington’s offensive coordinator, Shanahan was fined $25,000 for verbal abuse of an official in a game against Cincinnati.

“And if he (Cruz) was here, I would apologize to him now,” Shanahan said. “He's trying to do his best just like I am. I was just frustrated. I wanted a timeout and I yelled it as loud as I could three times and he just didn't hear me. I was mad at him for it. It's not his fault. He's focused on the game, too. Hope he has no hard feelings towards it.”

Overall, it was a rough debut for Shanahan, who six times in nine seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator fielded top-10 units. But Week 1 showed that he has a lot of work in front of him after inheriting a team that went 2-14 last year under Chip Kelly.

“The thing that's tough for a coach when you look on tape and you just feel like you have no chance, then there's not much to say,” Shanahan said. “There's a lot of clips there you could see that we had a lot of opportunities that we missed on, and especially early.

“I think our guys watching the tape, by no means do they just look at it and feel that they didn't have a chance. I think we're all disappointed because there was a number of times that we could have had a chance to be in that game and we just came up short.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”