Kyle Shanahan explains how NFL Next Gen data helps 49ers in practice


Kyle Shanahan explains how NFL Next Gen data helps 49ers in practice

Kyle Shanahan was working with Zebra Technologies, the company that collects all of the NFL Next Gen data, during Super Bowl week in Atlanta, and the coach shared how he and the 49ers staff use the information to their advantage.

While each player, game ball and referee is tracked in every NFL game, not every team tracks its players during practice. The 49ers do, though, and Shanahan explained why.

"We've been using the heck out of them the last few years,” Shanahan said this week on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo." "We track all of our players. It tells you how fast a guy is, how slow a guy is. It's been great for us.

"You always try to temper practice and things like that. 'Hey, I think our guys are doing too much, let’s take it down.' But you were always going off your gut feel."

With accurate tracking during practice, the 49ers can see how much a player has run in each session. It will indicate if a player is markedly inconsistent or not reaching their peak speed.

"We always want guys to run their fastest on Sunday," Shanahan said, "but you don't want to run your fastest seven days a week. But if you only run your fastest on Sunday, that's going to make you much more susceptible to pulling hamstrings and things like that.

"We always try to get them to get to their max speed at least one time during a week before Sunday. Now, instead of a guy just telling us he's running his fastest, we can actually see."

Shanahan joked that while it does make players a little paranoid, it helps everyone. The science and tracking behind it assists the training staff to understand how to keep players from becoming overworked.

[RELATED: How NFL Next Gen stats are expertly tracked]

If a player has a sudden drop-off in production, it opens communication. They can explain a sickness or soreness, and practice reps can be modified.

"If there's ever a red flag on something," Shanahan said, "like, 'Hey, this guy has always been this way every Wednesday, and for some reason this Wednesday, he was at this number. What’s wrong with him?' 'Oh he was sick today.' So, that makes sense.

"This is something we’ve done our whole career, but you're actually just guessing and going off watching people and stuff. So it's nice just to have some numbers with it."

The technology not only is used to track current players but prospects as well. Every player at last month's Senior Bowl was monitored, and it will help staffs evaluate players heading into the NFL draft. That just proves Next Gen stats have become a valuable tool for coaches and scouts around the league.

Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'


Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'

After months of airing out his feelings towards the Steelers, Antonio Brown has finally met with team owner Art Rooney II. 

Rooney wasn't the only member of Steelers management at the meeting in Florida. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and exec Omar Kahn were also in attendance, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter, and it's clear a trade is on the horizon. 

The meeting comes the morning after Brown went on Instagram and said the following: "If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell 'em call me. ... Call me Mr. Big Chest! Big Chest for now on. Big Chest Brown for now on! Don't even call me AB. Just call me Big Chest. Yeah, I'm Mr. Big Chest!" 

Brown also recently sent out a series of tweets, one in which he calls out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his "owners mentality." Even though his talent is there, Brown's social media presence has turned some teams away, reports Peter King.

Ever since his request to be dealt, Brown has found himself at the center of trade rumors this offseason. And it all started with 49ers tight end George Kittle recruiting the star wide receiver on Twitter. 

It didn't stop there with the 49ers, too. Brown has made his desire to wear red and gold clear, and he's even posted a picture of himself in a Photoshopped 49ers jersey on Instagram. He's even become close with Jerry Rice, and the 49ers legend has vowed to mentor him if he's traded to San Francisco. 

[RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make]

Last week, Brown was found guilty of reckless driving in a Pennsylvania court and did not attend his hearing. The 31-year-old is also being sued in Florida for throwing furniture off of a 14th-floor balcony, and nearly hitting a toddler and his grandfather. 

The future seems inevitable. Brown's time in Pittsburgh has virtually come to an end, but his new home is still a mystery.

Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make


Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make

The 49ers have an obvious need at wide receiver, and that was before they decided to move on from Pierre Garcon last week.

There's been an abundance of reports regarding current Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown's displeasure with the Steelers, as well as his potential fit with the 49ers, and their publicly professed appreciation for his talents.

Still, Brown can't seem to stay out of the news these days, and usually for the wrong reasons. It's unclear if that would make him less attractive to San Francisco, or more, in that his trade price could theoretically drop further.

If the 49ers are intent on acquiring a star receiver this offseason, they aren't necessarily limited to Brown. In fact, a pairing with the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. -- who, at 26 years old, is considerably younger than Brown -- could make more sense for San Francisco, and be less messy.

According to a report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the 49ers remain interested in acquiring the Giants' dynamic receiver. And, New York may be more willing to listen to offers now than they have been in the past.

"The 49ers have had real interest in Beckham for nearly a year," Florio writes. "The only question is whether the Giants are willing to pull the trigger. As reflected by last week’s bold offseason prediction from Jay Glazer, the Giants may indeed be ready to do so."

So, what would it cost San Francisco in a trade for Beckham Jr.? The 49ers hold the second and 36th overall picks in the upcoming NFL draft, but Florio insists some additional compensation would likely be headed back to San Francisco if they gave up their top overall selection.

[RELATED: Who Mel Kiper Jr. has 49ers, Raiders picking in first round]

"The No. 2 overall selection would seemingly be a high price to pay, possibly requiring the Giants to send maybe a third- or fourth-round pick back to the 49ers to balance it all out."

If the 49ers choose not to throw their chips in on either Brown or Beckham Jr., they face the possibility of a direct competitor acquiring one of the best pass-catchers in the league. In a way, San Francisco adding either of them could also be seen as 'playing defense' in roster construction.

For instance, Florio mentions that the Los Angeles Rams had interest in trading for Beckham Jr. last year, but instead opted to acquire Brandin Cooks.

"But if the Rams want to make a big splash in 2019," he continues, "they could (in theory) dangle someone like receiver Robert Woods to the Giants as part of the package."

The Rams, of course, lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The talent gap between Los Angeles and San Francisco isn't as wide as it seems, but it would surely get wider if the Rams added the kind of dynamic receiver the 49ers so desperately need.

Ultimately, the 49ers have to decide what makes sense for them. They clearly need to upgrade the receiver position, and with both Brown and Beckham Jr. seemingly available for trade, the opportunity is there, should they choose to pursue it.

It can't hurt San Francisco to have multiple options. But you could make the argument that the only option the 49ers don't have in this situation is to miss out on this opportunity entirely.