49ers

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

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AP

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.

Fantasy football waiver wire: 49ers' Deebo Samuel among Week 3 targets

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Fantasy football waiver wire: 49ers' Deebo Samuel among Week 3 targets

Another week in the books.

With nothing but the Monday Night matchup remaining on the NFL's Week 2 slate, it's time to turn our attention to the waiver wire. There were several standout performances across the league, as well as some serious injuries to some key fantasy players.

The waiver wire presents your opportunity to capitalize on those developments and set your team up to continue its fast start, or to rebound before it's too late.

With that, here are four non-quarterbacks to keep in mind for waiver claims Tuesday morning, all of whom could be the missing link for your squad and are owned in fewer than 15 percent of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy leagues.

Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs WR

1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 1 percent owned in ESPN

Patrick Mahomes has shown no signs whatsoever of slowing down, as the third-year quarterback lit up Oakland for 443 passing yards and four touchdowns in Kansas City's 28-10 road win on Sunday. He did all that without Tyreek Hill, who missed the game with a sternoclavicular joint injury. However, Demarcus Robinson did his best Hill impression.

Robinson hauled in six passes for 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders, pairing with rookie Mecole Hardman to give the Chiefs two downfield threats that Oakland struggled to keep up with. Given how explosive Kansas City's offense is, you know they're going to put up plenty of points on a weekly basis. Sammy Watkins takes over the No. 1 spot in Hill's absence, but Robinson made a very convincing argument for more playing time on Sunday. He'll likely be the top waiver add in your league.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins WR

2 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 3 percent owned in ESPN

The Dolphins flat-out stink. There's no way around it.

After being shut out 43-0 by the Patriots on Sunday, Miami has now been outscored 102-10 over the first two weeks of the season. That is historically bad.

The Dolphins are inept on both sides of the ball, but from a fantasy perspective, that can have its benefits. Miami has been playing from behind all season, and there's no reason to expect that to change anytime soon. That means lots of passes, and as one of the most talent-poor teams in the league, the Dolphins simply don't have many pass-catchers worth rostering. Preston Williams, however, might be a different story.

While DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant both drew one more target, Williams led all Miami receivers with four receptions for 63 yards on Sunday. He now has at least five targets and three receptions in every game this season, and has accounted for Miami's lone touchdown. There aren't many Dolphins worth rostering in fantasy, but in deep leagues, Williams might qualify.

Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks TE

2 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 2 percent owned in ESPN

If you didn't grab one of the top-tier tight ends in the first few rounds of your fantasy draft, chances are you've experienced some uneven play from that position. Rookie T.J. Hockenson had an all-time performance in Week 1, but was an absolute dud in Week 2. Pittsburgh's Vance McDonald basically did the opposite.

So, if you're unhappy with the state of your tight end position, it might be worth taking a flier on Seattle's Will Dissly. The Seahawks tight end caught all five passes on which he was targeted Sunday for 50 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He won't be a consistent producer from week-to-week, but in a pinch, you could do a lot worse, particularly given the quarterback throwing him the ball.

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers WR

13 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 13 percent owned in ESPN

It remains to be seen if the 49ers have a true No. 1 receiver, but Deebo Samuel made the most convincing argument yet this season on Sunday against the Bengals.

San Francisco's second-round pick led the 49ers in targets, receptions and receiving yards against Cincinnati, hauling in five passes for 87 yards and a score. Jimmy Garoppolo looked considerably better in Week 2 than in Week 1, and he seemed to look for Samuel in key moments.

[RELATED: Why Jimmy G getting into early rhythm was key to 49ers' win]

Inconsistency is to be expected from a rookie, but given that Samuel has outplayed Dante Pettis over the first two weeks, it seems unlikely that his snap count will decrease anytime soon, especially after the offensive explosion San Francisco experienced against the Bengals. Kyle Shanahan is as good of a play-caller as there is in the NFL, and Samuel affords him plenty of flexibility in that department. Add Samuel as a WR4 that offers the potential for more.

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

CINCINNATI — The 49ers' defense was overshadowed by an offense that put 41 points and 572 yards on the board against the Bengals, but it still had a Sunday not to forget.

San Francisco held Cincinnati to 316 yards in total offense, including a shockingly low 25 on the ground. Another 66 yards of that total came on the Bengals' final offensive play -- a garbage-time touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to John Ross. Take that away, and the Bengals' total offensive output was 250 yards as the 49ers rolled 41-17 at Paul Brown Stadium.

That one week after the 49ers held the Buccaneers to 17 points and 295 total yards in a season-opening road win.

Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner all recorded quarterback sacks Sunday, and linebacker Kwon Alexander logged his first interception as a 49er and the seventh of his NFL career. The defense also racked up eight pass break-ups, with Alexander responsible for three, Ahkello Witherspoon and D.J. Reed for two apiece, and Jullian Taylor for one.

The 49ers' new attitude on defense is noticeable, and much of the credit for that goes to Alexander and defensive end Dee Ford being added to the lineup and, of course, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's presence.

Jimmy Garoppolo explained how unique the group is and how Alexander really has changed the mood.

"Yeah, Kwon's awesome, man," the 49ers quarterback said. "He really is. The defense as a whole, it’s a different attitude, and I’ve never been around a defense like that. When I turn the ball over and they hold them to a field goal and miss it, it just gives you so much more confidence in those guys. They played their asses off, and it’s incredible."

Alexander could be considered an instigator of sorts. He's always seen on the sideline with a lot of energy, and if any trash talk is happening on the field, you'd best believe that he's involved. He also takes full responsibility for second-year pro Fred Warner's vocal emergence this season.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in rout of Bengals]

Alexander believes motivation is cyclical, with all phases of the game keeping the energy high for each other. He thrives off it.

"Everybody buying in, doing what they got to do," Alexander said. "Offense doing what they got to do running the ball, D going out there making plays and turnovers ...

"Everybody was just feeding off each other, and once you do that, once you get a team feeding off each other and playing fast, you’re going to win a lot of games."

So, while the offense had a better showing Sunday, the defense is what could keep the 2-0 49ers' upward trajectory on course. Not only is the unit capable of helping pull out a win when the offense struggles, but the defense can alleviate pressure on Jimmy G and Co. to perform.