49ers' Kyle Shanahan confident Jimmy Garoppolo can block out negativity

49ers' Kyle Shanahan confident Jimmy Garoppolo can block out negativity

Until about a week ago, it was all positivity for Jimmy Garoppolo's stint with the 49ers.

But the first hint of negative press for the 49ers quarterback began with a five-interception practice on Aug. 14 and then hit full steam after he posted a 0.0 passer rating after 11 snaps in Denver on Monday. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan believes that Garoppolo has the ability to operate without letting the noise be a distraction, but he also understands that it’s only human to let it affect you. 

“He has the ability to do it,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy’s not a guy who is out all the time and really wanting to read about himself. He’s a very humble guy and has the right personality. But, he’s also human, too.” 

Shanahan went through a similar struggle himself, after reading an article back when he was the offensive coordinator in Washington under his father, Mike, who was the head coach. 

“I had success my first couple years in Houston as a coordinator and I was really young and I just thought that everything was easy and why does anyone get stressed out and then I go to Washington and I wasn’t as good anymore,” Shanahan recalled. 

“I accidentally read a paper one day and it told me how bad I was, and that was my first job ever, and I only got it because of my dad. And I’d like to say that didn’t mess me up but it did for a little bit.” 

One of the qualities that Shanahan looks for in players is an even temperament. He regularly cites wanting a player whose emotions are too high or too low. He believes that not reading glowing stories about yourself is as important as not reading the negative. 

“That’s human nature, and you start to learn that stuff and you realize, holy cow, that can affect you and I’m not going to read that ever again," Shanahan said. 

"And I’m also not going to read it when it tells me how good I am, because if it tells me how good I am, then that makes me feel a lot better about myself then I’m going to feel that much worse when it tells me how bad I am.” 

Football pundits might think that a lot rides on Garoppolo’s success in Kansas City on Saturday. But for his coach, that’s not necessarily the case. Shanahan shot down the notion that their matchup against the Chiefs has a value more than just an exhibition game. 

“It’s elevated stakes if your goal is the day after the game to make sure people talk good about you, but, that’s not our goal,” Shanahan said. “Our goal is to be as good as we can for Tampa. 

“If your world and why you play this sport has to do with pleasing talk shows and making sure everyone says you’re good, even though that doesn’t mean you are, then yeah, it probably is." 

The 49ers coach would prefer that his players simply focus on what they can control in their preparation for the regular season. 

“I really hope our guys are stronger than that,” Shanahan said. “I hope our guys go out and focus on doing the best they can, trying to execute.”

He emphasized that a team’s record in the preseason has nothing to do with their success in the regular season. 

“I’ve been 4-0 in the preseason and had everyone love us and have started 0-4 after that. They don’t remember that,” Shanahan said. “I’ve gone 0-4 in the preseason and won our first game. They forget very quick.” 

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While Shanahan has learned to mute the noise, both good and bad, he hopes Garoppolo can learn to do the same. He believes it is a key to longevity and success in the league. 

“You do the best you can every week.,” Shanahan said. “It’s a hard league and just because you don’t have success one week it does not mean you’re not good. It’s week in and week out, it changes every week and the strong people survive in this league.”

49ers' George Kittle doesn't want to miss 'massive' game vs. Packers

49ers' George Kittle doesn't want to miss 'massive' game vs. Packers

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle said he knew at the time he sustained injuries to his left knee and ankle in Week 9 that he would be out for a couple of weeks.

On Thursday, he returned to limited practice after sitting out two weeks of 49ers' practices and games.

“It went really well,” Kittle said after practice. “It was definitely a great step in the right direction. It was really fun being back out there with all the guys. I definitely don’t miss sitting in the training room all day. My goal definitely is still Green Bay.”

Kittle and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) returned to limited practice on Thursday, suggesting there is a strong likelihood each player will be available to play Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium.

“Unfortunately, that falls on the doctors and coach [Kyle] Shanahan, so whatever they decide, I’ll do,” Kittle said.

Kittle was forced to watch the past two games from a suite on the 800 level of Levi’s Stadium, rather than being on the sideline. Kittle described that experience as “absolutely brutal, absolutely awful.” At worst, he hoped to be allowed on the sideline with his teammates.

“I want to be down there, but they said I’d hurt myself if I put myself down there,” Kittle said. “I disagreed, but I understand.

“It’s a lower body injury, so it doesn’t make any sense to stand on it for three or four hours, and fatigue it. I agree with them, and I disagree with them.”

Kittle, as Shanahan has done in the past two weeks, declined to disclose the nature of his injuries. When asked if his ankle or knee is giving him the most difficulty, he quipped, “Yes.”

Kittle was injured on the 49ers’ first play of their Oct. 31 game against the Arizona Cardinals. He said he did not believe his decision to remain in the game caused the injuries to worsen.

“They said, ‘You want to play?’ And I said, ‘I’ll do everything I can to finish the game,’ and I got an extra three quarters out of it,” Kittle said. “I don’t think it affected my injury any further.”

Kittle leads the 49ers with 46 receptions for 541 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers are atop the NFC West, as well as the conference, with a 9-1 record. The Packers are 8-2.

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“Every game is a big game, but definitely an 8-2 Packers team coming, it’s definitely a battle for the NFC, definitely a massive game,” Kittle said. “It’s one I don’t want to miss.”

How 49ers' Jeff Wilson is able to stay ready for number to be called

How 49ers' Jeff Wilson is able to stay ready for number to be called

SANTA CLARA  — Running back Jeff Wilson might have only played one offensive snap in the 49ers' victory over the Cardinals in Week 11 but it was an important one. 

The play had the potential for disaster. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo admitted he couldn’t see his running back and Wilson couldn’t see the pass coming out of the pocket. The ball arrived slightly behind Wilson, but the undrafted free agent was able to secure the ball and make his way 25 yards down the field to the end zone. 

The 49ers and Cardinals changed leads three times last Sunday at Levi's Stadium, but Wilson's touchdown with 31 seconds left put Kyle Shanahan's crew on top for good, winning 36-26.

Wilson’s first receiving touchdown comes after entering the year with no assurances he would ever see the field during the regular season. With a stacked running backs room to begin the offseason, Wilson was expected to have a spot on the scout team with Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert all ahead of him on the depth chart, not to mention fullback Kyle Juszczyk. 

Injuries hit the running backs room hard and Wilson's number was called. In seven appearances, Wilson has racked up four rushing touchdowns, filling in as needed. No matter how often his number is called, he stays ready to make an impact. 

“That’s just how the game goes,” Wilson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “That’s kind of what you get yourself into, That’s something you go into already expecting and knowing. Obviously, I knew that from the beginning of the season. Never know when I’m going to get called up.” 

The support of his position mates has made the process easier for the second-year running back. The group is very close. During pregame warmups they spend several minutes, arm-in-arm, huddled together in the end zone. Players who are inactive for the game or injured always are included.  
"To have Matt there, Tevin, Juice, the guys I’m in the locker room with, makes it easier,” Wilson said. “They are very supportive. It’s like if one of us is doing something, it’s like all of us are doing it. 

“At the same time if one person scores it feels like all of us scored. That’s kind of how we work. We want to make everyone to feel a part of it. We always call Jet, you know what I mean? He’s the leader of the group still. We always keep Jet involved. That’s kind of how we are.” 

[RELATED: 49ers' Kittle back at practice but off-limits for contact]

That support helped fuel Wilson’s dash to the end zone. His bouncing up and down in the huddle before the play might have made coach Shanahan a little nervous, but Wilson said he was ready thanks to playing 13 special teams snaps to stay warmed up. But he might not have expected the feelings that took over his body once he got into the end zone. 

“I don’t know, that was just a lot of emotion,” Wilson said. “A lot of stuff just built up on the inside that kind of came out all at once. I couldn’t control myself. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in control of my body at that point. It was crazy, but it’s a blessing. It was a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”