49ers

Kyle Shanahan rounds out his 49ers coaching staff for 2019 season

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USATSI

Kyle Shanahan rounds out his 49ers coaching staff for 2019 season

INDIANAPOLIS – Shortly after quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello left the 49ers to become Vic Fangio’s offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos, it appeared Mike LaFleur was the favorite to fill the position.

LaFleur was the 49ers’ passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach last season. He worked with the quarterbacks for the 49ers-coached South team at the Senior Bowl.

LaFleur will no longer be solely in charge of the wide receivers with the 49ers, and he will not coach the quarterbacks, either.

Instead, LaFleur will have a myriad of duties as he retains the position of passing game coordinator. He will work closely with head coach Kyle Shanahan, while he is also expected to help assimilate the 49ers’ new quarterbacks and wide receivers coaches into the system.

The 49ers on Wednesday announced the completion of its coaching staff, which highlights Shanahan’s vision for a restructured staff and his reliance on two coordinators on the offensive side of the ball.

The club also announced the hiring of Ben Peterson as head of player health & performance. The 49ers also promoted Dustin Perry to head strength & conditioning coach. The 49ers are still interviewing candidates to take over as the team’s head trainer.

Shanahan will continue to oversee the offense and call the plays. In January, he denied LaFleur and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel from opportunities to leave the organization for coordinator positions. Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur was denied permission to hire his younger brother.

Shanahan said he considered those opportunities as lateral moves after LaFleur and McDaniel were promoted to coordinator positions following the 2017 season.

The 49ers on Wednesday announced the previously reported hirings of Wes Welker as wide receivers coach and Shane Day as quarterbacks coach.

[RELATED: Taylor excited to work with Welker]

Mike LaFleur’s duties as the passing game coordinator will require him and Shanahan to spend a lot of time with Welker and Day to help train them in the intricacies of the 49ers’ offense.

Shanahan spent a lot of time the past two seasons in the quarterbacks meeting room with Scangarello. LaFleur will likely be a regular in the room in 2019 with Day, who is beginning the process of learning what he needs to know about the requirements of coaching the position in Shanahan’s offense.

McDaniel, as run game coordinator, is the template for such a move. McDaniel does not have a position group for which he is responsible. He has the flexibility to spend time with different areas of the offense, including the offensive line and tight ends.

Shanahan, LaFleur and McDaniel are likely to work on game-planning together on Mondays and Tuesdays during the regular season. On the practice days of Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, they will not have responsibilities inside the meeting room of a particular position group.

Without coaching a position, LaFleur and McDaniel are free to spend time on special projects and issues, while also having the flexibility to spend time with any of the position groups.

Former NFL receiver Miles Austin, who joins the 49ers as an entry-level offensive quality control coach, is also likely to spend considerable time with Welker with the wide receivers.

COACHING STAFF UPDATES
Daniel Bullocks - Safeties
Shane Day - Quarterbacks
Wes Welker - Wide Receivers
Zach Yenser - Assistant Offensive Line
Bobby Slowik - Offensive Assistant
Miles Austin - Offensive Quality Control
Brian Fleury - Defensive Quality Control

HEALTH & PERFORMANCE STAFF UPDATES
Ben Peterson - Head of Player Health & Performance
Dustin Perry - Head Strength & Conditioning
Shea Thompson - Director of Performance Monitoring/Assistant Strength & Conditioning
Aaron Hill - Assistant Strength & Conditioning
Mike Nicolini - Assistant Strength & Conditioning

Jeff Wilson's only offensive play helps 49ers beat Arizona on birthday

Jeff Wilson's only offensive play helps 49ers beat Arizona on birthday

SANTA CLARA -- On the biggest play of the game, 49ers running back Jeff Wilson was on the field for his first offensive snap.

“That might be all you get, so you better be ready for it,” Wilson said.

On Sunday, that was all Wilson got. And, boy, was he ready.

One day after turning 24, Wilson had a celebration -- the result of his ability to remain focused and loose. Wilson rose to the occasion to beat an all-out blitz with a 25-yard catch and run on a quick pass from Jimmy Garoppolo as the key play in a 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Wilson’s first career touchdown reception gave the 49ers the lead with 31 seconds remaining Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers added a touchdown on the final play of the game, when the Cardinals fumbled in desperation mode and D.J. Reed returned it 4 yards for a touchdown. The 49ers improved to 9-1 on the season, and Wilson was the latest unexpected hero to emerge.

[RELATED: How crazy final-play TD in 49ers' victory affected bettors]

Matt Breida was sidelined with an ankle sprain, and the 49ers did not get much production on the ground from Tevin Coleman or Raheem Mostert. Coleman had 14 yards on 12 attempts, while Mostert gained 13 yards on six carries.

After a delay for a booth review, the 49ers entered the huddle trailing 26-23 with 37 seconds remaining with the ball at the Arizona 25.

Coach Kyle Shanahan made the decision to put Wilson in the game because he was effective running the upcoming play during the practices leading up to the game.

“Honestly, we were in the huddle initially and it was Tevin next to me and then I went to the sideline and was talking to Kyle and came back and all of a sudden it was Jeff next to me,” Garoppolo said. “You got to tip your hat to him to be ready in that situation. As big of a moment as that was, I think it was his first offensive snap and, I mean, to do that, it’s incredible.”

The play opened up for Wilson when Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph called an all-out blitz, leaving the middle of the field open and Wilson matched up against edge rusher Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL with 12.5 sacks.

On the previous play, tight end Ross Dwelley caught a 3-yard pass on a third-and-3 situation. Shanahan said he was going to go for it on fourth down if Dwelley had been stopped short. And when the 49ers got the first down, it gave them time to get Wilson into the game for his one play.

“It was neat watching him just because that was the play we were calling as long as we got the first (down),” Shanahan said. “When they were reviewing it and watching Jeff do high knees in the huddle, trying to get warmed up for the route. Glad he had the time to get loose.

“You had five guys in protection and they are usually bringing six, so it can be a very bad call or it can be a very good call. It’s going to be one or the other when it’s over.”

Wilson said he knew Jones would be matched against him when he saw Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick move a few feet to his left. That indicated to Wilson that Reddick would blitz and if Wilson exited the backfield around the left side, Jones would be responsible for covering him.

“I knew he was one of the better guys on their defense, but I also knew he was a D-end,” Wilson said of Jones. “His hips aren’t that good. He can’t move side to side, especially when his whole body was turned. So it was a simple one step, cut across his face, go get the ball.”

Wilson made the inside move on Jones, who stumbled and fell. Wilson caught the pass and outran safety Jalen Thompson and split Budda Baker and Patrick Peterson to arrive untouched into the end zone.

[RELATED: Jimmy G put team on his shoulders, carried 49ers to win]

The game-deciding play was not the only time Wilson stepped on the field, of course. He also served as one of team’s core special-teams players. He said he stayed mentally sharp due to the nature of the game and being in another close, thrilling finish.

“I stay warm by watching. My teammates give me thrills,” Wilson said. “You do a little stretch here and there, and I play special teams, as well. Special teams always keep me loose.”

George Kittle likes what he's seen from Ross Dwelley taking his spot

George Kittle likes what he's seen from Ross Dwelley taking his spot

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Ross Dwelley cannot replace George Kittle in the 49ers’ offense, but he came up with some huge plays in the 49ers’ 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

While Kittle missed his second consecutive game with knee and ankle injuries, Dwelley stepped up with four catches for 14 yards. His statistics were not prolific, but they were important contributions in San Francisco's ninth victory in 10 games this season.

The 49ers were trailing 16-0 in the first half before Dwelley caught touchdown passes of four and five yards from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Those were the first two touchdown catches of his NFL career.

Then, he had a huge first-down pickup on a third-and-3 play late in the fourth quarter to set up the Garoppolo-to-Jeff Wilson pass that provided the winning points in the closing minute.

Kittle spoke in the locker room after the game on the condition that he only be asked questions about Dwelley, who has started six consecutive games for the 49ers due to injuries to fullback Kyle Juszczyk and, now, Kittle.

“I don’t think anyone really saw that coming when he first got here and the strides he’s taken in these last two years is incredible,” Kittle said of Dwelley, who came to the 49ers last season as an undrafted rookie from the University of San Diego.

“A lot of that is on our coaching staff and tight ends coach [Jon Embree], but a lot of that is on Ross and the time he spends in here getting his body right and mentally. He’s just doing such a great job for this team.”

Kittle compared Dwelley's ascendance to the way quarterback Nick Mullens stepped in last season when he was needed after injuries to Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard. Kittle said he has not had to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Dwelley during the time he has taken over as the starting tight end because Dwelley is on top of things.

“Fortunately, a guy like Ross doesn’t really need a lot of help,” Kittle said. “He’s been preparing to play. He prepares every game like he’s going to start, and he’s going to play every single rep, so he just hopped in, pretty similar to Nick last year.

“He just hops in, and he’s ready to go, and there’s not a lot of, ‘Hey, get your toes wet.’ He’s just out there going full speed, and that’s what you want out of the guy.”

The 49ers hope to get Kittle's services back next week for the team’s Sunday night game against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle leads the 49ers with 46 receptions for 541 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

[RELATED: How crazy final-play TD in 49ers' victory affected bettors]

Dwelley has 14 catches on the season for 66 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a clutch third-down conversion two weeks ago that helped the 49ers clinch their Week 9 victory over the Cardinals.