49ers

Pete Carroll explains what makes 49ers star George Kittle so special

george_kittle_vs_seahawks.jpg
USATSI

Pete Carroll explains what makes 49ers star George Kittle so special

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers and Seahawks will meet for the second time in three weeks Sunday, and George Kittle definitely is on Pete Carroll's mind.

“Well, he lit it up against Denver [last week],” the Seahawks coach said Wednesday of the San Francisco tight end. “So if we didn’t know, we sure do now. We considered him. He was almost targeted twice as much as everybody else going into our game, so that obviously hasn’t changed. But what a fantastic game he had last week."

Kittle caught seven of his nine targets for 210 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers' 20-14 win over the Broncos. He nearly broke the NFL record for the most receiving yards in a game by a tight end, but he did break the 49ers record for the most yards by a tight end in a season.

Carroll went into detail about Kittle's qualities, particularly taking note of his 705 after-catch yards, which leads all NFL tight ends.

“Yeah, George is a really good mover,” Carroll said. “He’s quick. We’ve all seen him catch and run with the ball and be difficult to tackle in the open field. He just has a real good package. His quickness, his strength, he’s elusive. He’s playing as good as any tight end in football.”

Carroll also was complimentary of how 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has used Kittle in his offensive scheme.

“I think he’s recognized the versatility that he has,” Carroll said. “And he’s just utilized it really well. Just when you look at just the highlights of last week’s game, the variety of places that he caught the football and the styles of routes and all was totally spread across the board.

“I just think that’s Kyle’s ingenuity and his creativity that really helps a player like Kittle do so well.”

Kittle and the 49ers' offense had a productive first half against the Broncos with 311 yards, but they were held to 78 while being shut out in the second half. The Seahawks will take notes on the Broncos' second-half success, although Seattle did "hold" Kittle to six catches for 70 yards in their first meeting. The Seahawks actually had more trouble stopping Dante Pettis, who made five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers will need both Pettis and Kittle to be productive to beat a stingy Seahawks defense that allowed just 16 points in that meeting in Seattle.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers look to fill two vacant spots on offensive staff

shanahanconcernedap.jpg
AP

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers look to fill two vacant spots on offensive staff

MOBILE, Ala. – Coach Kyle Shanahan has filled out his defensive staff, but he is still contemplating the moves he must make to finalize the list of 49ers offensive assistants.

“Even though it was unfortunate to lose two good coaches on offense, I do look at it as an opportunity to see if we can improve in any other areas,” Shanahan said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl.

“(But) it’s going to be tough to get guys specifically who are better than those two.”

Former quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello is the new offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos under coach Vic Fangio. And former assistant offensive line coach Adam Stenavich is the new Green Bay Packers offensive line coach under first-year coach Matt LaFleur.

Initially, the 49ers denied the Broncos permission to speak with Scangarello. The 49ers denied passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel opportunities to be non-playing calling offensive coordinators of other teams.

“I needed more time to talk about it,” Shanahan said of immediately filing the paperwork to deny the Broncos permission to interview Scangarello.

“The initial reaction (was) I don’t want to lose good coaches, at all, and you don’t have to. But it’s very tough to keep a coach back when he’s getting a huge promotion. It’s a tough position that we’re in because I want to do right by people, always. But my No. 1 job is to do what’s best for the 49ers. That’s what you got to always think about, and losing good coaches is not what’s best for the 49ers.”

Shanahan said he spoke with Fangio and Broncos general manager John Elway to be assured that Scangarello had a strong chance to get the job and his role would constitute a promotion. The 49ers informed the Broncos they could interview Scangarello, and he was hired last week.

Teams are allowed to deny assistant coaches under contract for any job that is not an opportunity to be a head coach.

The 49ers dened LaFleur opportunities with Green Bay and Minnesota. Although Mike LaFleur would have worked for his brother with the Packers, Shanahan said it was more difficult to deny Minnesota because it was a better job. Matt LaFleur will call the plays in Green Bay.

The club denied Arizona from speaking with McDaniel. New Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury will call the plays.

“It wasn’t a promotion,” Shanahan said of those jobs. “Mike and Mike, I gave them the coordinator title before the year started. That’s what they do for us. They are under contract, so that one was a very easy one for me.

“I listen to every one. I would not feel guilty or bad. I know the situation they’re in here and what we’ve done together for a long time. I know how important they are here and what they do here. Why would I let them go do that for someone else?”

Mike LaFleur and McDaniel will be presented with contracts for one-year extensions in the offseason. If the coaches sign the extensions, the 49ers again would have the opportunity to deny them the possibility of assistant coaching positions with other teams next offseason.

In the meantime, LaFleur and McDaniel will run the offense this week and share in the play-calling for the South squad at the Senior Bowl. Both assistants are also candidate to replace Scangarello as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Shanahan noted the 49ers have two strong in-house candidates.

He also has the option of considering other coaches from outside the curent staff.

The 49ers have made two changes to their defensive staff. Former Denver defensive coordiantor Joe Woods replaces Jeff Hafley, who takes over as Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator. Kris Kocurek takes over as defensive line coach. The 49ers fired Jeff Zgonina when Kocurek became available after the Miami Dolphins fired their coaching staff.

Neither Woods nor Kocurek are in Mobile this week. That was a perk Shanahan said he gave them to help convince them to sign with the 49ers.

“That was part of my recruiting for them,” Shanahan said. "I threw that out there before they said yes. If they’d said yes (immediately), I wouldn’t have thrown that out there."

How 49ers will restructure athletic training and conditioning programs

img_0927.jpg
Matt Maiocco

How 49ers will restructure athletic training and conditioning programs

MOBILE, Ala. – Coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers were forced to make difficult to decisions to fire the team’s head athletic trainer and their strength and conditioning coach.

But, he said, the moves were part of an overall reshaping of the organization's medical and conditioning staffs.

Shanahan, speaking Tuesday to Bay Area reporters at the Senior Bowl, said there is a bigger picture than the number of injuries the 49ers have experienced the past two seasons. Head trainer Jeff Ferguson and strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright were fired as part of an overall restructuring.

“It’s about where we want to go, how we can make the overall process of it better,” Shanahan said. “Injuries happen, and we’ve looked into that, and we’re going to do everything we can to improve that. We have to, because that has hurt us a lot in the last two years.

“The format we’re looking into will improve that. That’s nothing against Ferg. That’s nothing against Ray. It’s trying to make the overall medical and strength and conditioning staff of the San Francisco 49ers stronger. We think we can do that by getting a new position to head that area to help make it better.”

The 49ers had 37 players finish on injured reserve the past two seasons, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, both of whom sustained torn ACLs. McKinnon sustained his injury before the first regular-season game. Garoppolo was lost for the season in Week 3.

“(The new position will) mold those two places so you’re not dealing with separate parts of the building and we can make it a little more collaborative,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said general manager John Lynch and CEO Jed York are primarily responsible for the hirings of a position that will be akin to a head coach of training. There will also be a head athletic trainer and a head strength and conditioning coach.

Shanahan has never been with an organization that has combined the athletic training along with the strength and conditioning programs. The 49ers have done a lot of research on the approach, he said.

It is a philosophy that is gaining momentum in other sports, such as basketball and soccer.