49ers

Jon Gruden played huge role in Kyle Shanahan becoming offensive genius

Jon Gruden played huge role in Kyle Shanahan becoming offensive genius

Kyle Shanahan was groomed his whole life to become a football coach, always dreams of calling plays for an offense. The first real step in the NFL was thanks to current Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, when Shanahan was just 24 years old

Gruden, then the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hired Shanahan as an offensive quality control coach going into the 2004 season. Going into the job, he was well-versed in his father Mike' offense, but Gruden's playbook was monstrous compared to everybody else. While Mike Shanahan mastered a system, Gruden has grasp of every football play known to mankind.

"I had to draw all his plays, and Jon had more plays than anybody in football," Shanahan said to NBC Sports' Chris Simms on the latest episode of "Chris Simms Unbuttoned." "So I actually got to draw and have experience with every play that was being run in the NFL."

Shanahan had his first big job in the NFL just two years later when he became the Houston Texans' receivers coach. There, head coach Gary Kubiak ran Mike Shanahan's offense nearly play-for-play. And Kyle couldn't have been more bored. 

Gruden gave him a challenge every day. He already knew his father's system. The now 49ers head coach wanted more than what he already knew.

"I got everything from Jon, which was great for my mind at the time because it just put a lot of stuff into my head that I needed to learn," Shanahan said. 

[RELATED: How Shanahan eventually got past 49ers' Super Bowl loss]

Fast forward to 2020 and Shanahan and Gruden both are considered to have two of the most complex playbooks in the NFL. Shanahan told Simms that "Jon Gruden was just offense on steroids."

Now, that's exactly what many teams around the NFL say about Shanahan.

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How 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams feel about fan-less games

How 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams feel about fan-less games

While hope appears to be running out on following through with any semblance of a legitimate college football season, the NFL is moving forward with some significant changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NFL stadiums will not be rocking this fall -- at least not like past seasons.

The best-case scenario is that mask-wearing fans will occupy a small percentage of seats this season in some NFL venues. More likely, there will be no fans in at least the majority of stadiums.

"You'll have to bring your own juice," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said last week. "I'll tell you what, our team, that's one thing that we don't have a problem with, though, bringing the energy.

“We bring it every day in practice, and you see it out there during training camp already. The first walk-through basically felt like full speed.”

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Veteran offensive lineman Trent Williams points out that most of the time when football players work at their craft, there are no fans around. After all, jobs are won in practices. And other than some sessions in training camp during a normal summer, there are no spectators to provide a jolt of energy.

“It's going to be weird not to have fans, but the majority of football we play, there’s nobody watching us,” Williams said. “We’ve been playing the game our whole life. The fans make this sport what it is. Game days, they put that extra cherry on top and makes the experience a dream.”

At its basic level, however, Williams said nothing at all changes for the men who play the sport.

“The game is a game, whether there are fans there or not,” Williams said. “We have to execute. As professionals, that’s all we can hang our hats on. We got to be professionals and play the game when it’s probably not the easiest thing.

“Like Jimmy said, you got to bring your own juice.”

The NBA season has resumed in the bubble of Orlando, Fla. While each NFL team practices at their own facilities without the controlled environments, Williams said he believes the NBA is leading the way for how to move forward in playing a high-energy sport in a nearly empty building.

“I think the NBA has kind of shown us how it can be done, virtually,” Williams said. “And I think they’ve done a great job with that. So I’m encouraged by that, and I think we’ll be OK.”

[RELATEDTrent Williams expects Jerick McKinnon 'breakout' 2020 season]

If there is one advantage, it is for quarterbacks of visiting teams. Garoppolo said he is looking forward to the road experience, where there will not be the usual complications of communicating with teammates in a loud environment, such as Seattle or New Orleans.

"It will be different. No silent count will be needed on the road," Garoppolo said.. "So that's a luxury. I'm pretty excited about that one. It'll be different.

"We're just going to have to adapt to it and change on the fly. And I'm sure there'll be some hiccups along the way. But the better we can adapt, and the more quickly we can adapt, the better."

49ers' Deebo Samuel shows how he looks seven weeks after foot surgery

49ers' Deebo Samuel shows how he looks seven weeks after foot surgery

Deebo Samuel broke his left foot on June 16. It nearly has been eight weeks since the injury, and the 49ers receiver is taking his rehab head-on. 

Samuel, 24, is expected to miss 12 to 16 weeks after he underwent surgery. Ever since the injury, though, Samuel has vowed to be back sooner and predicted a 10-week recovery. On Sunday, he posted a seven-week update to his Instagram. 

View this post on Instagram

7 Weeks Post Surgery🤫

A post shared by Deebo Samuel (@19problemz) on

There's no doubt Samuel wants to make it back before the 49ers face the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 13 at Levi's Stadium. The reality is that it likely won't happen

“(We’re) not going to put an exact timeline on it, but I think it’s fair to say he may well miss some games early in the year,” general manager John Lynch said late last month.

The 2019 second-round draft pick impressed everyone as a versatile option in his rookie year. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns in 15 regular-season games. He then set the Super Bowl record for rushing yards from a wide receiver with 53 yards on three attempts.

[RELATED: Shanahan already seeing Jimmy G start to take next step]

No matter how big of a loss Samuel will be, the 49ers can't rush him back. If he remains on the non-football injury list at the start of the regular season, he would be ineligible to practice or play for the first six weeks of the regular season. And if that does happen, then so be it. 

Receivers like Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Brandon Aiyuk and Dante Pettis will have to step up in Samuel's absence. The 49ers don't have the most experienced group, but there's a lot of talent there to work with. Rushing Samuel back simply isn't worth it.

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