49ers

Kyle Shanahan talks urgency of NFL when it comes to rookies

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AP

Kyle Shanahan talks urgency of NFL when it comes to rookies

SANTA CLARA — There’s a definite learning curve for rookies in the NFL. And the 49ers have players in various stages.

Coach Kyle Shanahan pinpointed the progress of several of the team’s first-year players. Some of which have taken some time to become productive.

“These guys are straight out of college,” Shanahan said. "And they’ve had a lot of success their whole lives. Sometimes they take some time to be ready for the NFL.”

In the 49ers 2017 draft class there was some success, like drafting George Kittle in the fifth round. And some misses like Joe Williams and Reuben Foster. 

[RELATED: Jullian Taylor talks NFL Debut]

There are similar results for the team in 2018. First-round pick Mike McGlinchey has already developed into a solid right tackle, and is the heir apparent to the left side when Joe Staley decides to hang up his cleats.

Others have taken a bit longer to develop. 

Running back Jeff Wilson played the majority of the offensive snaps in Seattle after Matt Breida re-aggravated his ankle injury in pregame warmups. Wilson ended the day with 15 carries for 61 yards and eight receptions for 73 yards. 

Shanahan had hoped to have him ready a few weeks earlier. 

“We were hoping he was there a few weeks ago when Raheem [Mostert] went down, and he wasn’t quite ready, but I think his urgency changed a lot after that week," Shanahan said. "He came back after that Bye week, the urgency went way up and the results showed in practice and it carried over to the game.”

[RELATED: Jeff Wilson thankful for pow-wow]

Another draftee who has recently upped his productivity is receiver Dante Pettis.

A knee injury in Week 4 kept him off the field for a few weeks and stunted his development. In his breakout game in Seattle, he caught five of his seven targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns. 

“I thought Dante came out pretty ready -- always want them further along than they are," Shanahan said. "But, when he had that injury, I thought he got set back a lot. Dante works hard, but sometimes guys have got to learn how urgent the NFL is.”

While Wilson’s turnaround was after a heart-to-heart with his coach Bobby Turner, the impetus for Pettis’ improvement was Shanahan. 

“I’ve been definitely riding the heck out of Dante because we believe in him a lot," he added. "We know he has a lot of ability and I’ve told him the last couple of weeks, he’s taken a huge step forward, but don’t get that confused with you’ve arrived. It’s just a couple of steps forward.”

Safety Marcell Harris has also gotten a fair chance on the field after Jimmie Ward was placed season ending injured reserve. 

“I think he played like it was one of his first full games starting,” Shanahan said. “He showed some potential and things like that, but he hadn’t been in that situation where he’s had to make that many tackles in a game for over a year.

“He didn’t get to play his last year at Florida. So, I thought he was a little bit rusty, but it was definitely expected. You’ve just got to take some of the good with the bad as he works through that stuff, just kind of like we have with Dante the last couple weeks too.”

Shanahan also detailed why rookie Tarvarius Moore saw more snaps on special teams than on the defense. 

“There’s only two corners out there,” Shanahan said. “So we’d have to sit down one of the other two and we don’t think that’s been right here the last few weeks. We’ve had a couple of packages to get him out there, some dime packages, which he’s done.

“He’s really stepped it up on special teams this year. He’s got to work through some stuff out there, at corner, I’d like to get him that opportunity to work through it, just like Marcell got his opportunity yesterday. I think Tarvarius will.”

It was about this time in the season in 2017 when several rookies started standing out, like Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert. Shanahan says that's natural. 

“It just takes time, just the inconsistency. Happens a lot with rookies." 

Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't let down 49ers knowing eyes were on him in rehab

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USATSI

Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't let down 49ers knowing eyes were on him in rehab

SANTA CLARA – Jimmy Garoppolo knows there is always a chance a set of eyes are on him, and that served as motivation during his time rehabbing at the 49ers’ practice facility during the early months of this offseason.

It will be another week before the coaching staff will be allowed to work with Garoppolo on the practice field, but there was nothing keeping Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch from keeping tabs on his movements from afar.

At one point in the offseason, Lynch said he looked out his window and got fired up when he saw Garoppolo throw a pass to running back Jerick McKinnon as the two players rehabbed from ACL injuries.

“He was a couple weeks ahead of me and everything so I was trying to play a little catch-up game with him,” Garoppolo said. “But we never know when those guys are watching. The windows are hard to see through. They must put tints on them or something.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon lean on each other during rehab]

Garoppolo said he likes knowing that the higher-ups in the organization might be watching from their upstairs offices, which overlook the team’s weight room and practice field.

“It actually kind of turns it into more of a practice, kind of ramps you up a little bit, gets the energy going,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo said he is steadily rounding into form after the Week 3 injury to his left knee. He will undoubtedly wear a brace on his left knee, he said. He said he wore a brace during his rookie season with the New England Patriots as a preventative measure.

“I never played with one before in college or high school or anything like that,” he said. “So it was different. But these new ones that they got are titanium, lightweight. It’s like you’re not wearing anything sometimes.”

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo jokes with reporters on George Kittle's new fame

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AP

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo jokes with reporters on George Kittle's new fame

I'll admit it, sometimes I get a big head when a tweet of mine goes viral -- I get a little ahead of myself with the attention. One person who does not have that problem is 49ers' tight end George Kittle. At least not yet.

During a recent press conference, 49ers' quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked about Kittle and how the tight end could be handling his "new higher profile" since last year. Jimmy G wanted to make sure Kittle remained humble and simply answered, "George who?"

Garoppolo smiled, of course, and it was pretty apparent he was being facetious -- and rightfully so.

Last season, Kittle was voted the most improved player by the Pro Football Writers of America, he was selected to the Pro Bowl, earned second-team All Pro honors, and set the NFL receiving yards record by a tight end in a season with 1,377 yards. 

Not bad. And through it all, he not only remained humble, but he also remained awesome.

[RELATED: Kittle played through rib injury last season]

At the end of the day, he's just a guy rushing through a press conference to get to a WWE event.

He's all of us.