Kyle Shanahan not allowing undefeated 49ers to get ahead of themselves

Kyle Shanahan not allowing undefeated 49ers to get ahead of themselves

The 49ers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFC, sitting pretty at 3-0. So, the playoffs are a foregone conclusion, right?

Don't tell that to Kyle Shanahan.

"That is good, but that doesn't mean anything," San Francisco's head coach said (h/t ESPN's Nick Wagoner). "I've been 5-0 and not made the playoffs before, so that doesn’t mean much."

The frustrating collapse to which Shanahan referred was his experience in his first season as the Falcons' offensive coordinator, back in 2015. Atlanta raced to a 5-0 start but went on to lose seven of its next eight before ultimately finishing a disappointing 8-8.

Shanahan learned from that, and isn't allowing his 49ers to look too far ahead. That said, he believes there's value in acknowledging the fact that they're 3-0 for the first time in two decades.

"It's both," Shanahan explained. "You've got to believe. There's lots of things that make you believe. You've got to believe that you're good enough, and I think we've added some guys that definitely help, and I think guys that have played here know that they're good enough. They've gone and been in a lot of situations.

"I feel like guys are getting better, and that's the confidence that helps you believe in yourself."

There's no question that San Francisco is a superior team compared to one year ago. On offense, the 49ers average the fifth-most points (32.0) and the second-most rushing yards (175.0) per game. On defense, they rank third overall, having allowed the fifth-fewest yard per play and already tied their forced turnover total (seven) from last season.

That said, there's ample room for improvement. The 49ers have been too careless with the ball on offense, for one, and their record -- albeit undefeated -- has come against teams that are a combined 3-9.

Standout defensive lineman DeForest Buckner agrees with that sentiment.

"We know as a group we can be so much better," Buckner said. "We know we can do better on that on all phases. ... It's just the little things. It's executing and just taking care of the ball and getting the ball on defense."

[RELATED: 49ers' D-line, Garoppolo impress Browns coach Kitchens]

Fresh off their Week 4 bye, the 49ers have been focused on those improvements heading into "Monday Night Football." They'd love to get to 5-0 and -- eventually -- the playoffs, but first, they have to go through the Cleveland Browns.

Joe Staley shows off impressive weight loss since 49ers retirement

Joe Staley shows off impressive weight loss since 49ers retirement

Joe Staley's work ethic never was in question during his decade-plus career as the 49ers' starting left tackle, and it appears that determination has continued into retirement.

Staley told ESPN's Emily Caplan in early July that he already has lost 50 pounds since retiring from the NFL in April, and a picture shared on Twitter by Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn definitely shows the former offensive lineman's body transformation.

[RELATED: 49ers' Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for Super Bowl no-call]

"As an offensive lineman, you're always known as this big, humongous, unathletic blob," Staley said to ESPN. "Offensive linemen get casted in a movie, and they're always 500 pounds. Then you get the opportunity to be healthy again, and all of the effort you used to put into football, you put into that. It gives you a focus once you retire. It's a little bit vain, but I'm starting to see abs that I've always wanted. And it's kind of exciting."

Offensive lineman often must eat an incredible amount of food to maintain the 300-pound frames typically seen across NFL rosters.

Staley seems to be enjoying his retirement.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Trent Williams expects Jerick McKinnon 'breakout' 2020 season

49ers' Trent Williams expects Jerick McKinnon 'breakout' 2020 season

Trent Willams has seen more of what Jerick McKinnon can do on the football field than just about anyone over the last two years.

And when the 49ers’ new left tackle was asked which teammate he was most eager to watch on the field, McKinnon was at the top of the list.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Jet,” Williams told the Bay Area media on a video call. “After two years, the way he’s looked in the offseason, I just can’t fathom him not being a breakout player.”

The 49ers were expecting so much from McKinnon after they signed him on the first day of free agency in 2018, coach Kyle Shanahan had planned to unveil an offense in the regular season that would focus heavily on the running back’s ability as a route-runner and pass-catcher.

But McKinnon sustained a torn ACL one week before the regular-season opener. When the graft from that surgery did not fill in properly, McKinnon lost a second consecutive season. McKinnon accepted a greatly reduced salary this year to remain with the 49ers.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowl player, saw plenty of McKinnon’s skills during the offseason as he, McKinnon and Deebo Samuel were among those who worked out with star running back Adrian Peterson.

Samuel described those training sessions as the “one of the hardest workouts I’ve been doing since I’ve been playing football.”

McKinnon has been cleared to take part in 49ers practices, which begin Aug. 15. The 49ers’ first padded practice is scheduled for Aug. 17.

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Thrived through the worst of it

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McKinnon figures to be a big part of the 49ers’ offense as a third-down back. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo recently said he is looking forward to seeing McKinnon take what he’s showing in workouts onto the field during the regular season.

“Even just throwing routes on air this offseason, he runs them differently than most running backs and he has a feel that's like a receiver, but he feels space like a quarterback,” Garoppolo said. “It's very unique and I'm excited to get him back, man. It's been a while.”

[RELATEDBosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field]

Williams ticked off other areas of the 49ers that have him excited, too. He spoke about tight end George Kittle and every level of the defense, including the “freakish” defensive line.

“I just want to get this team to a game,” said Williams, whom the 49ers acquired in an April trade with Washington. “It feels like college again, when we had three of the top four picks in the draft. I haven’t had this feeling since then.”

In 2013, Williams was one of three Oklahoma players to be chosen in the top four of the NFL draft. He went No. 4 to Washington, following quarterback Sam Bradford (No. 1 to the St. Louis Rams) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (No. 3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).