49ers

Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'

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Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kyle Shanahan answered countless questions about losing to the New England Patriots with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers coach lost again after all the questions, this time to the Kansas City Chiefs. He's grieving all over again and having a more difficult time reconciling this time around. 

“I think this one was harder than the last one,” Shanahan said Tuesday from the NFL Scouting Combine. “The last one was a bigger loss, I mean at the end and stuff. I just thought we were a better team. The hardest thing for me is I thought we were the best team in the NFL.

“And when you really believe that, and I thought it for a while, it wasn’t just like the last couple weeks of the year. In Atlanta, we kind of got hot at the end of the year, so I felt pretty fortunate.”

Shanahan's 2016 Falcons and his 2019 49ers entered the playoffs with a first-round bye.  The difference is that the 49ers started the 2019 season with an 8-0 run, and finished with a 13-3 regular-season record, clinching the No. 1 seed.

The 2016 Falcons, however, had a 5-3 record at the halfway point. Atlanta won its last four straight games to clinch the No. 2 seed, but played two playoff home games only because the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys lost in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers. 

[RELATED: 49ers want to bring everyone back, but know it will be tough]

The 49ers have come a long way under Shanahan. They had a fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl after winning the 10 games the previous two seasons, but it's difficult to focus on the journey following a painful ending. 

“This year I thought we had it,” Shanahan said. “We were the second-worst team in the league last year, and now we got to live with being the second-best, which I’m proud of. But that is harder, because I truly believe it was there for us.” 

Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick to contract, ex-NFL exec believes

Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick to contract, ex-NFL exec believes

With the recent events in Minnesota, Louisville and other parts of the United States, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is back in the news.

It has become clear that Kaepernick's message from his protests during the national anthem in 2017 NFL season didn't take hold.

The deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March have led to protests all over the country.

In a column posted Saturday, former NFL executive Joe Lockhart and current CNN political analyst Joe Lockhart said the league attempted to convince teams to sign Kaepernick in 2017 and 2018, and he felt they had "done a righteous job."

Based on the events in Minnesota this week, Lockhart now realizes how wrong he was.

In an attempt to right a wrong, Lockhart believes the Minnesota Vikings should sign Kaepernick to a contract and give him a legitimate chance to compete for the back-up quarterback spot in training camp.

"The situation in Minnesota right now offers a unique opportunity to deal with the symbols of racial injustice," Lockhart wrote. "As a small, but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings. Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love.

"It will not solve the problem of blacks and police violence. But it will recognize the problem that Kaepernick powerfully raised, and perhaps show that, with courage, real progress can be made."

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

Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016 and opted out of his contract in March of 2017 after the 49ers told him they planned to release him.

Last year, Kaepernick worked out in Atlanta, but no NFL team signed him.

While Kaepernick is arguably more talented than most back-up quarterbacks and even a few starters, he has remained unsigned since leaving the 49ers. Lockhart claims NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spent a lot of time "prodding and pushing" teams to sign the former second-round pick. No one followed through, and Lockhart explained why.

"But for many owners it always came back to the same thing," Lockhart wrote. "Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business. An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20 [percent] of their season ticket holders if they did. That was a business risk no team was willing to take, whether the owner was a Trump supporter or a bleeding-heart liberal (yes, those do exist). As bad of an image problem it presented for the league and the game, no owner was willing to put the business at risk over this issue."

[RELATED: NFL briefly lists Kap as 'retired']

The only way Lockhart's suggestion can work is if the Vikings give Kaepernick a real shot to compete to be Kirk Cousins' back-up. Even though he hasn't played the last three NFL seasons, Kaepernick has more natural talent than Jake Browning, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley, the three other quarterbacks on the Vikings' roster.

Kaepernick deserves another shot to play in the NFL. If the Vikings want to make that happen, great. But it cannot be a PR move.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Examining 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo's case as NFC West's most clutch

Examining 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo's case as NFC West's most clutch

Jimmy Garoppolo’s play as the 49ers quarterback has been hyper-analyzed over the past two seasons, as fans try to decide whether the organization indeed has found its franchise quarterback.

Winning certainly hasn’t been an issue for Garoppolo in the Bay Area, as he’s been the victor in 21 of his 26 regular-season starts.

His play in the fourth quarter was particularly impressive during his first full season as a starting quarterback, as evidenced by the numbers.

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

Solely based off those stats, the argument could be made as to Jimmy G being considered a clutch quarterback.

But how does his fourth-quarter play stack up with his three opposing starters in the NFC West?

Garoppolo’s fourth-quarter passer rating (107.1) far surpasses that of Jared Goff with the Los Angeles Rams (79.7), Kyler Murray with the Arizona Cardinals (82.2) and Seattle Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson (99.4). The 49ers’ propensity for being ahead late in games last season allowed Garoppolo to hand the ball plenty in the final quarter, but close games in New Orleans in Week 14 and against the Rams in Week 16 showed that Jimmy G can make plays when it counts.

Garoppolo’s touchdown-to-interception ratio (6-1) only is bested by Wilson (7-1), who is one of the league’s best when it comes to limiting turnovers. Garoppolo also paces the division’s QBs in fourth-quarter completion percentage (70.09).

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning]

Having one of the league’s best defenses on his side makes Garoppolo’s job immensely easier, as coach Kyle Shanahan rarely had to rely on passing the ball to win games. Goff and Murray played quite a bit from behind in 2019, which was a detriment to their efficiency. 

Wilson’s late-game heroics are a focal point of his reputation around the NFL, as 49ers fans saw first-hand during last year’s Week 10 loss to the Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. But Wilson had a completion percentage below 50 in the red zone last season, where efficiency becomes even more imperative for a QB. Jimmy G was at just over 63 percent in the same zone, throwing 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

While Wilson clearly stands alone as the NFC West’s best quarterback entering 2020, Jimmy G and his clutch play in the final minutes aren’t far behind.