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How Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense impressed Packers' Aaron Rodgers in 2018

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AP

How Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense impressed Packers' Aaron Rodgers in 2018

The 49ers lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 of the 2018 NFL season, but they did win an admirer. 

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told NBC Sports' Chris Simms at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe last week that he was very impressed by Kyle Shanahan's playcalling.

"The stuff they did against us this year ... was unbelievable," Rodgers told Simms on a recent episode of "Unbuttoned" released this week. "You watch on the sidelines going, 'that's pretty cool.'"

San Francisco was without starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo after he tore his ACL in Week 3, but nearly outlasted the Packers in a 33-30 shootout in a cold Monday night matchup on Oct. 15. The 49ers led 30-23 with 13:08 remaining, but Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers Things and marched the Packers 58 yards and 81 yards, respectively, on two scoring drives sandwiched by a costly C.J. Beathard interception. It was one of the team's most prolific games all season, as the 49ers combined for their fifth-highest total yards (401) and their third-most points of the season. 

[RELATED: NFL analyst predicts major improvements for 49ers next season]

The Packers will travel to Levi's Stadium in Week 12 on Nov. 24, and the rematch could contain more fireworks on offense. Rodgers mentioned Shanahan, Simms' former teammate at the University of Texas-Austin and his longtime friend, after discussing his excitement playing in new coach Matt LaFleur's offensive scheme. LaFleur, who is replacing Mike McCarthy, coached with Shanahan in Washington and with the Atlanta Falcons, and LaFleur's brother Mike is the 49ers' wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. 

If Garoppolo's healthy and LaFleur and Rodgers click on the opposing sideline, another high-scoring classic could be in the cards. 

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo knocks off rust despite few reps in preseason debut

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo knocks off rust despite few reps in preseason debut

DENVER — Jimmy Garoppolo’s first snaps in his return from an ACL injury were very unimpressive, but at least he got them out of the way before the regular season. 

It was a chance to brush away the cobwebs and get rid of some of the butterflies from playing under the bright lights again. Those will be the positive takeaways. 

“Yeah, obviously a lot of excitement,” Garoppolo said. “Anxious to get out there and everything but nothing too crazy. It’s something I haven’t done in a year obviously, so got to knock the rust off and everything and thankfully we have a short week this week so we can bounce back quickly but it’s the first step of getting back into it.” 

Coach Kyle Shanahan believes the experience was good for his quarterback, even if it wasn’t productive in yardage or on the scoreboard. 

“Yeah, of course,” Shanahan said. “He’s had a year off football, and before that he only played about eight games total. The more he can play, the better. I wish we could have kept him out there longer today but you risk everyone else too, so I had to get those guys out of there.”

Garoppolo was only able to complete one of his six attempts for no yards and one interception. His night ended with a 0.0 rating. The offense wasn’t able to get into a rhythm in the three short drives with Garoppolo under center. 

“Obviously a little frustrated but it’s the NFL,” Garoppolo said. “Unfortunately, we don’t get to play the whole game right now so I only get so many plays. You wish you could be out there for more so we could bounce back. But it is what it is. It's preseason right now, so we just have to take it in stride.”

Shanahan spoke about what he saw from Garoppolo and the offense. He wanted to keep them on the field longer to string a bunch of plays together but he also could not risk injury to his starters in an exhibition game. 

“Anytime you can’t get an offensive rhythm, everyone looks that way,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t get anyone in rhythm. I wish we could have gotten him in a rhythm. It was very hard to pull him off on the third series because we wanted to go one and two series. One and two good series.” 

Mentally Garoppolo says he’s moving past thinking about his surgically repaired knee. The only thing that reminds Shanahan is when he sees the brace on Garoppolo’s knee. 

“I forget his knee’s hurt,” Shanahan said. “He’s been healthy since OTAs, so we aren’t worried about the knee right now. We just want to get him out there and get some reps and play some football. 

“It was good for him because it’s a big hurdle to get out there for the first time, but we haven’t seen any issues with the knee. We aren’t too concerned about his injury. It’s about him playing and getting reps with our team.”

[RELATED: 49ers takeaways: What we learned in 24-15 preseason win vs. Broncos]

The team has a short week ahead of them with another road game on Saturday facing the Chiefs. Garoppolo is looking forward to a chance to play a little longer, and get the offense in sync. 

“Yeah, just kind of getting in the groove offensively,” Garoppolo said. “As the offense, once we got that first down, you kind of start rolling. I think we only got one of those tonight. Once you get in a groove like that as an offensive, it’s a good feeling. Hopefully, we'll play a little more of the same thing.”

Johnny Manziel calls 49ers' Kyle Shanahan 'one of the best in the business'

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AP

Johnny Manziel calls 49ers' Kyle Shanahan 'one of the best in the business'

Jimmy Garoppolo's first game action since suffering a torn ACL in Week 3 of last season could have gone better in the 49ers' 24-15 preseason win over the Broncos on Monday night. A lot better.

In three series, Garoppolo completed just one of six passes for zero yards, equaling the same number of completions he made to the other team, as he was intercepted on San Francisco's first drive of the game. Now, granted, it was his first live game action in 11 months, and the 49ers' offensive line didn't exactly do him many favors.

Still, it wasn't an encouraging performance, leaving plenty of room for doubt as to whether or not Garoppolo is capable of recreating the magic from his first five starts in a San Francisco uniform. And, if he can't, there might come a time when the 49ers are forced to move on.

There's a long way to go between now and then, and it's usually unwise to take too much away from a preseason game. But, if the 49ers are ever forced to find another quarterback, there's at least one interesting name that would love to be reunited with head coach Kyle Shanahan.

In a recent AMA, former first-round pick and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was asked which NFL coach he would play for if he had his pick, and he spoke very highly of his former offensive coordinator with the Browns.

"Enjoyed my time with Kyle Shanahan," Manziel responded. "I really did. Think he's one of the best in the business."

[RELATED: Jimmy G struggles mightily during 49ers preseason debut]

Manziel hasn't played in the NFL since 2015, having most recently played for the Memphis Express of the AAF. The chances he ever plays for the 49ers are less than minuscule, but for as long as Garoppolo struggles, there will be no shortage of uncertainty surrounding San Francisco's quarterback position.