MOBILE, Ala. – Coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers were forced to make difficult to decisions to fire the team’s head athletic trainer and their strength and conditioning coach.

But, he said, the moves were part of an overall reshaping of the organization's medical and conditioning staffs.

Shanahan, speaking Tuesday to Bay Area reporters at the Senior Bowl, said there is a bigger picture than the number of injuries the 49ers have experienced the past two seasons. Head trainer Jeff Ferguson and strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright were fired as part of an overall restructuring.

“It’s about where we want to go, how we can make the overall process of it better,” Shanahan said. “Injuries happen, and we’ve looked into that, and we’re going to do everything we can to improve that. We have to, because that has hurt us a lot in the last two years.

“The format we’re looking into will improve that. That’s nothing against Ferg. That’s nothing against Ray. It’s trying to make the overall medical and strength and conditioning staff of the San Francisco 49ers stronger. We think we can do that by getting a new position to head that area to help make it better.”

The 49ers had 37 players finish on injured reserve the past two seasons, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, both of whom sustained torn ACLs. McKinnon sustained his injury before the first regular-season game. Garoppolo was lost for the season in Week 3.


“(The new position will) mold those two places so you’re not dealing with separate parts of the building and we can make it a little more collaborative,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said general manager John Lynch and CEO Jed York are primarily responsible for the hirings of a position that will be akin to a head coach of training. There will also be a head athletic trainer and a head strength and conditioning coach.

Shanahan has never been with an organization that has combined the athletic training along with the strength and conditioning programs. The 49ers have done a lot of research on the approach, he said.

It is a philosophy that is gaining momentum in other sports, such as basketball and soccer.