49ers' Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch already begin shifting focus to 2020

49ers' Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch already begin shifting focus to 2020

SANTA CLARA -- Kyle Shanahan has done a lot of thinking since one of the worst professional days of his coaching career.

In the days since the 49ers blew a 10-point mid-fourth-quarter lead and lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-20, on Sunday, Shanahan has been in constant thought.

“I've been through it all,” he said on Thursday. “Probably a thousand times in the last three days.”

The 49ers had control of the game.

Then, they didn’t. Just like that.

The 49ers’ offense failed to sustain drives; and the 49ers’ defense failed to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense.

“I also am not a good liar,” said Shanahan, looking like a man who had not gotten a lot of sleep in recent days. “How you guys hear me talk is exactly how I feel. I'm really upset about the loss because it's hard to get there. I personally thought we had the best team in the NFL this year.

“We weren't. We’ve got to deal with that. I truly believe that we had that and we should have proved that, and we didn't get that done.”

The road to get back to the Super Bowl is difficult. Super Bowl losers face a particularly difficult challenge. Only three teams that lost the Super Bowl returned the following season to win it all. Call if a hangover, if you will. But Shanahan believes the main issue is just the difficulty that every team faces to advance to the Super Bowl.

“It's not an easy thing to do,” Shanahan said. “But I also think that we’ve got different people than a lot of teams have.”

Shanahan reminded his team during the end-of-season meeting on Wednesday how it all began in 2017. The 49ers started the first season under Shanahan and general manager John Lynch at 0-9. No team that opened a season with nine consecutive losses had ever won more than three games that season. The 49ers finished with a 6-10 record.

“I just look at little things like that,” Shanahan said. “There are lots of stats, but I think we have a lot of stats that prove we're different people, and I want those guys to keep that in their minds. We’ve got to deal with some of this and get it out of our system. I know it will fuel us more and we'll be pumped to come back and get after it.”

Players and coaches often talked this season about the chemistry on the 49ers this season. There will be comings and goings to the 53-man roster. Some difficult decisions await. and Lynch said that is not all bad. He said he views it as an opportunity for the team to strengthen its roster for 2020.

Due to tighter salary-cap restraints, a roster that is more set and the lack of picks on the first and second days of the draft, there is likely to be less turnover than in most offseasons. Lynch recalled how the 49ers signed 14 free agents in the 2017 offseason as the 49ers began rebuilding the roster.

“Those days aren't happening anymore,” Lynch said. “We can't go to the grocery store and say, ‘I'll have that, I'll have that, I'll have that.’ It is more like, ‘I'll have that, but I might have to put that back.’ There are tradeoffs.

“And we're committed to finding a way to be better. We'd love to keep everybody. This team is special. There's a special feel to it. We hope that's the case. It's probably not likely, it just doesn't happen in this league.”

Lynch was part of a Super Bowl-winning team as a player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was the first time he experienced defeat in that situation.

“It stinks, you know, it really does,” Lynch said. “I think having it in your grasp and you’ve got such a group of men, a locker room, that just cares. They care about each other. They have each other's back.

“To not finish the deal, it hurts. That will stick with us for a lifetime. But, to me, it's about what you do going forward.”

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The feeling is all-too-familiar for Shanahan, who was the offensive play-caller when the Atlanta Falcons lost a 28-3 lead in the second half and fell to the New England Patriots in overtime of Super Bowl LI just three years ago. He made it through that time. He said he will make it through, again.

“I've lost the Super Bowl before,” he said. “I've been a part of a bigger lead that was lost, so I'm very well aware of what goes with that.

“That's what's really cool about sports. It's what hurts about sports. It's what is fun about sports. It's why I like sports. It's also why everyone likes watching it because there is a lot of emotion in there. When I do feel this way and stuff, it makes me feel stronger because it does hurt a lot. I also know how much I can deal with it. That's the worst stuff that happens. I can't wait to try our butts off to get back there next year.”

49ers' Trent Williams expects Jerick McKinnon 'breakout' 2020 season

49ers' Trent Williams expects Jerick McKinnon 'breakout' 2020 season

Trent Willams has seen more of what Jerick McKinnon can do on the football field than just about anyone over the last two years.

And when the 49ers’ new left tackle was asked which teammate he was most eager to watch on the field, McKinnon was at the top of the list.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Jet,” Williams told the Bay Area media on a video call. “After two years, the way he’s looked in the offseason, I just can’t fathom him not being a breakout player.”

The 49ers were expecting so much from McKinnon after they signed him on the first day of free agency in 2018, coach Kyle Shanahan had planned to unveil an offense in the regular season that would focus heavily on the running back’s ability as a route-runner and pass-catcher.

But McKinnon sustained a torn ACL one week before the regular-season opener. When the graft from that surgery did not fill in properly, McKinnon lost a second consecutive season. McKinnon accepted a greatly reduced salary this year to remain with the 49ers.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, saw plenty of McKinnon’s skills during the offseason as he, McKinnon and Deebo Samuel were among those who worked out with star running back Adrian Peterson.

Samuel described those training sessions as the “one of the hardest workouts I’ve been doing since I’ve been playing football.”

McKinnon has been cleared to take part in 49ers practices, which begin Aug. 15. The 49ers’ first padded practice is scheduled for Aug. 17.

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McKinnon figures to be a big part of the 49ers’ offense as a third-down back. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo recently said he is looking forward to seeing McKinnon take what he’s showing in workouts onto the field during the regular season.

“Even just throwing routes on air this offseason, he runs them differently than most running backs and he has a feel that's like a receiver, but he feels space like a quarterback,” Garoppolo said. “It's very unique and I'm excited to get him back, man. It's been a while.”

[RELATEDBosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field]

Williams ticked off other areas of the 49ers that have him excited, too. He spoke about tight end George Kittle and every level of the defense, including the “freakish” defensive line.

“I just want to get this team to a game,” said Williams, whom the 49ers acquired in an April trade with Washington. “It feels like college again, when we had three of the top four picks in the draft. I haven’t had this feeling since then.”

In 2013, Williams was one of three Oklahoma players to be chosen in the top four of the NFL draft. He went No. 4 to Washington, following quarterback Sam Bradford (No. 1 to the St. Louis Rams) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (No. 3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

Nick Bosa was voted the best rookie in the NFL last season.

The 49ers’ defensive end is approaching the 2020 season with even-bigger expectations for himself.

“I’ve got some pretty concrete things that I’ve been focusing on,” said Bosa, the consensus NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and chosen as the overall Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Bosa registered nine sacks during the regular season with a total of 80 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He added four more sacks in three postseason games.

Bosa came to the NFL with a reputation as an advanced technician. This season, he believes he will be better prepared mentally to become more of a down-to-down force.

”Last year, I didn’t really know what was going to work and what wasn’t and what was my go-to,” he said. “So just coming into games with a better plan of not wasting any time out there because you only get so many opportunities and you want to get those big numbers and help your team as best as you can and get the ball out. You have to come in with a plan and not waste any rushes.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bosa said he has spent the past six months working on a couple of new pass-rush moves. Even before the draft last year, Bosa spoke about a cross-chop move that Aaron Donald has perfected on his way to becoming arguably the league’s best defensive player. Bosa has also been considering adding a spin move to his arsenal.

Bosa said he also has worked on making better use of his hands to ward off pass-blockers and get to the quarterback more effectively.

“I win a lot at the top of my rush, but a lot of the times I get washed by the quarterback or I don’t pose enough space and finish the plays, so that’s probably been the biggest emphasis for me,” he said. “And I’ve been working that in walk-throughs and drills all (off)-season.”

Bosa faced a number of obstacles as he prepared for his rookie season a year ago. He underwent core-muscle surgery that ended his final season at Ohio State after three games. Bosa spent months rehabbing and traveling the country to meet with teams during the pre-draft process.

After the 49ers selected Bosa with the No. 2 overall draft pick, a hamstring strain during the offseason program sidelined him until training camp. Then, early in camp he sustained a high-ankle sprain that kept him out until Week 1 of the regular season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa 'not going to blame the ref' for big Super Bowl no-call]

While the 49ers and the rest of the NFL canceled on-field work this spring, Bosa trained daily with his brother, Joey, and he believes he enters his second season much better prepared than a year ago.

“I think I’ve gotten all of the benefits and I’m feeling it out here in these workouts, in these runs we’re doing,” he said. “I feel like I’m, by far, in the best shape that I’ve ever been. I don’t look much different because we don’t train to body-build. We train to play football, and I think it’ll show.”