Kyle Shanahan surprised 49ers assistants were raided after 4-12 season


Kyle Shanahan surprised 49ers assistants were raided after 4-12 season

ATLANTA – Coach Kyle Shanahan was not expecting to account for so many coaching departures after a season in which the 49ers fell far below expectations.

Shanahan said Friday at the Super Bowl that he expects to have his complete coaching staff finalized next week after a number of his assistants moved on for better positions on other staffs.

“It was a little unexpected,” Shanahan said during an appearance on KNBR. “I didn’t think our staff was going to get raided after a 4-12 year, so that caught me off a little bit

“A lot of guys tried to take a bunch of guys on the staff, and it was well-deserved. Some guys got to move on, and I had to keep some guys here. But I had to deal with that for a lot of January, but I think in the long run, we’re going to end up being better off.”

Shanahan confirmed an NBC Sports Bay Area report from this week that the club will hire Shane Day to replace Rich Scangarello as quarterbacks coach. New Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio hired Scangarello to be his offensive coordinator. The Broncos also hired T.C. McCartney, formerly a 49ers quality control coach, to be their quarterbacks coach.

Day, 44, has worked 10 NFL seasons, including his first three offensive quality control coach with the 49ers from 2007 to 2009 under Mike Nolan. He worked with quarterbacks, running backs and offensive line during his time seasons with the 49ers. Day has served under Mike Martz and, the past three seasons, as tight ends coach with the Miami Dolphins under Adam Gase.

Shanahan said he put Day through a long interview in Mobile, Alabama, during the week of the Senior Bowl. Day will spend a lot of time learning the 49ers' offense before the club reports back for the offseason program in mid-April.

“He has a lot of knowledge about the quarterback game,” Shanahan said. “I’m going to sit him down here over the next couple of months and I’m really going to teach him our system, what we like to do and the way we like to do it.

“He’s a very smart guy and he’s capable of soaking in a lot of information, and he’s going to have a lot of his own ideas to bring to the table. We’re going to put him in a crash course of learning here over the next couple of months. And when the players get in and we’re allowed to talk to them, he’ll be allowed to take over right where Rich left off.”

The 49ers this offseason also lost defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley (co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State) and assistant offensive line coach Adam Stenavich (Green Bay offensive line coach). The 49ers hired Joe Woods as passing game coordinator/defensive backs, and fired defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina to bring aboard well-respected line coach Kris Kocurek.

The 49ers denied permission for passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur (Green Bay and Minnesota) and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel (Arizona) to interview for offensive coordinator positions -- spots that Shanahan deemed as lateral moves.

[RELATED: Kittle ''one of luckiest guys in NFL' to play for Shanahan]

In another 49ers staff development, assistant strength and conditioning coach Shane Wallen this week accepted a position as a strength and conditioning coach with the Chicago Cubs. Wallen was instrumental in raising awareness and funds for victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise, where he grew up. Wallen’s father’s home was destroyed in the fire, which displaced thousands of people in the community.

In a message posted on social media, Wallen thanked the 49ers, general manager John Lynch and Shanahan “for affording me the opportunity to come back home and coach for the team I grew up watching, for supporting my hometown through such a devastating time.”

Tyreek Hill believes 49ers will face one of the most explosive offenses ever

Tyreek Hill believes 49ers will face one of the most explosive offenses ever

MIAMI – NFL history is heavily populated with explosive offenses that couldn’t win a title. All that scoring eventually ran into a stout defense with the right stuff to break down an scoring machine.

The 1999 St. Louis Rams bucked that trend. Then the 2009 New Orleans Saints turned great offense into a Lombardi Trophy.

The Kansas City Chiefs will try to follow suit on Sunday against the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. This matchup offers a contrast in styles, with Kansas City’s high-octane offense versus a potent 49ers defense with an unreal front lead by rookie Nick Bosa and former Chiefs Dee Ford.

You can look at raw numbers, however, and see the 49ers run better and scored more this regular season than Kansas City, but let’s not forget Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes missed two games with a knee injury and took some time to get revved up again.

Make no mistake: the Chiefs are stacked. The reigning MVP is behind center. They have unreal speed on the outside and a bully tight end. While they struggled some earlier in the year, the Chiefs put 51 points on Houston in the divisional round and 35 on Tennessee in the AFC title game.

Even if this year’s stats don’t show it, last year’s do. The Chiefs averaged 35.3 points and 425 yards per game in 2018, a year that ended with a playoff loss to New England.

Receiver Tyreek Hill believes this year’s attack is more talented that one. Kansas City added Sammy Watkins in free agency and Mecole Hardman through the draft, giving them more speed and explosiveness this time around.

They have so much, that Hill thinks this offense might be the most talented collection to reach the Super Bowl. That includes the Greatest Show on Turf.

“We have a 4x100 team on the field,” Hill said. “We have a relay team, man. No disrespect to Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. They only have a few guys. We have five guys who can run a 4.3. Come on, man. We’re fast.”

And good scoring fast and in several different ways. Hardman wasn’t ready to dub this attack the most talented to reach the Super Bowl, but he has great confidence in what K.C. can do after finding their rhythm.

“There have been a lot of great offenses over the years, with explosive players like Randy Moss [on the Patriots]. What about the Greatest Show on Turf? Those guys were awesome,” Hardman said. “I will say that we have a great combination of speed on the outside, Travis Kelce in the middle and a truly great quarterback like Pat Mahomes. You put all that together and we’re definitely in the conversation, but it won’t matter if we don’t finish the season out right. We think we’re great. Now we have to show everybody why we think that.”

[RELATED: How Alex Smith helped Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes develop in rookie season]

Head coach/offensive mastermind Andy Reid plays a role in all this as well. His creative play designs capitalize on Mahomes’ unique ability and the raw talent at the skill positions.

“His knowledge of offense and this game is off the charts,” Hardman said. “Looking at the playbook and how thick it was, and when you get into it, he’s running concepts I had never seen before. The routes he comes with, especially when he and Pat get to brainstorming, is stuff I had never heard of. It’s so smart and innovative. When you combine his mind with what we’ve got on the field, we can do some crazy things.”

How Alex Smith helped Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes develop in rookie season

How Alex Smith helped Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes develop in rookie season

MIAMI, Fla. -- Patrick Mahomes has it all. The Chiefs star can flick the ball 70 yards without issue. He's thrown passes left-handed, with his eyes closed and with both feet hovering off the ground. 

In only three seasons in the NFL, and two as the Chiefs' starting quarterback, Mahomes has shown the propensity to do the amazing. He transformed himself from risky NFL draft pick to superstar seemingly on the flight from Lubbock, Texas to Kansas City, and now he has the Chiefs on the precipice of a Super Bowl title if they can conquer the 49ers and the NFL's best defense Sunday in Super Bowl LIV. 

For all his otherworldly talent, Mahomes didn't become last year's league MVP and the new face of the NFL on his own. He rode the bench in his first season, holding the clipboard for someone who once was the future of the franchise he faces Sunday: Alex Smith. 

After playing seven seasons with the 49ers, Smith was traded to the Chiefs in 2013. He had four productive seasons in KC, including a career year in 2017 where he threw for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also spent that season mentoring the man who eventually would take his job and the league by storm. 

"He was extremely important," Mahomes said of Smith's impact on his development, "The way he went about his business and being a pro's pro, a great quarterback and also a great human being. He taught me a ton of just the process and how to blueprint your week and how to game plan. And then, how to read coverages by the little things. Maybe how the defensive line lines up and I think it helped me out a lot in the early part of my career, even still to this day of being able to get those invaluable lessons from him."

From the moment Mahomes started his first game in Week 17 of his rookie season, it was clear he was the Chiefs' future. 

Life as the up-and-coming quarterback isn't always easy in the NFL. Brett Favre famously wanted nothing to do with mentoring Aaron Rodgers. While Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo are friends, there were whispers that Brady's fear of losing his job to Jimmy G was one of the reasons the New England Patriots traded the young quarterback to the 49ers. 

Mahomes was lucky to have a guy like Smith to see the writing on the wall and still take him under his wing, giving him crucial advice to weather any adversity that came his way. 

"Alex Smith was phenomenal," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. "He wasn't asked to do this, but he let Patrick into his world. Patrick handled it the right way. He was humbled around Alex. He didn't try to overstep his bounds with Alex when he competed. With that, Alex let him kind of tag along on the field and off the field, showed him how to be a pro. How to study, your diet, your workout plan, family, how you work your family into the National Football League to be a great player in the National Football League. I joke about it, but it's true. Patrick couldn't pay Alex enough for what he gave him with the experience."

Mahomes took over last season as the Chiefs' starting quarterback and Smith was traded to Washington where he later suffered a gruesome leg injury that has kept him sidelined since. 

During his first year at the helm of the Chiefs' offense, Mahomes took the league by storm, throwing for 50 touchdowns and 5,097 yards. He joined Peyton Manning and Brady as the only three quarterbacks in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns passes in a single season. His improvisation allowed him to paint with all the grace and beauty of Leonardo Da Vinci. 

Instead of the Mona Lisa, Mahomes was crafting masterpieces rarely seen before in the NFL. 

[RELATED: Sherman identifies what makes 49ers' defense so tough to beat]

His talent popped immediately. His bazooka for a right arm has made jaw-dropping throw after throw as he's ascended to the top of the NFL quarterback hierarchy. He excels under pressure whether that's a defensive end bearing down on him or the Chiefs falling into a deep hole as they did in their AFC divisional-round win over the Houston Texans. 

Down 24-0 in the blink of an eye, Mahomes, icy cool, could be seen rallying his teammates on the sideline. He spoke. They listened intently and believed in their leader's words. Then, the flood gates opened as the Chiefs outscored the Texans 51-7 for the rest of the game, putting an aura of invincibility around someone destined to be an all-time great.

It's rare for young quarterbacks, no matter how talented, to command the attention of their team. Normally that takes time, a learning process filled with bruises and failures. But Mahomes was given a gift not afforded to most about-to-blossom stars: A veteran to show them how to succeed in the NFL before graciously handing them the keys. 

Mahomes came to the NFL with all the tools to ascend to the pantheon of NFL greats. Alex Smith's lessons gave him the road map to accelerate his rise. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.