Shanahan confident in 49ers: 'I think we'll be able to surprise some people'


Shanahan confident in 49ers: 'I think we'll be able to surprise some people'

SANTA CLARA – A year ago, Kyle Shanahan was at the controls of one of the most high-powered offenses in NFL history.

He parlayed his success as the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator into his new role as the head coach of the 49ers – a team that featured one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

But Shanahan said on "The 49ers Insider Podcast" on NBCSportsBayArea.com that he believes his team could be a lot better than expected. The 49ers are coming off a 2-14 season under Chip Kelly, who was fired after just one season.

“I feel confident with our guys,” Shanahan said. “We got some guys who compete. Collectively, we have a smart group of people who can all play together. And I think we’ll be able to surprise some people. But the biggest thing that always comes into (play) is injuries.”

The 49ers targeted Brian Hoyer as the quarterback. Hoyer has performed well during training camp. And Shanahan is pleased with the improvements at running back and wide receiver.

“We didn’t want to do it by going out and investing in all top picks or tons of money to do that,” Shanahan said. “You want to build it the right way and add some competition to make your team better overall.”

The 49ers added more depth at running back behind Carlos Hyde, who enters the final year of his contract. The team signed Tim Hightower as a free agent, acquired Kapri Bibbs in a trade, drafted Joe Williams in the fourth round, and signed Matt Breida as a priority undrafted rookie.

Hyde has appeared to benefit from the competition while strengthening his hold on the starting job. Shanahan said he would never guarantee a roster spot to anyone, but he made it clear he expects Hyde to have a major role.

“I think he’s playing at a very high level right now in practice,” Shanahan said.

“He looks good out here. People who can help us, we’re not trying to get rid of. And Carlos is a very good back who I believe can help us a lot.”

Shanahan said he likes the competition that is going on at any number of positions on the team. The 49ers open the exhibition season on Friday at Kansas City, and battles will continue to take place throughout the roster.

“I feel like you’re in a good situation when you’re a week into training camp and you have no idea how the final roster is going to be like,” Shanahan said. “We’re as strong at the running back and receiver positions as any position on our team.

“I’ve been in plenty of camps where at the end of OTAs, I already knew what it’s going to be, unless there were injuries. I can’t say that here. And it’s a good problem to have.”

Why 49ers couldn't get football to George Kittle to break NFL record


Why 49ers couldn't get football to George Kittle to break NFL record

SANTA CLARA -- The task seemed simple enough.

George Kittle needed just 5 yards to break the NFL record for single-game receiving by a tight end. And he had 30 minutes to get it done.

But after a seven-catch, 210-yard first half, Kittle was held without a reception in the second half of the 49ers’ 20-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

“The only people that were happy were probably Shannon Sharpe and my dad,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

Sharpe owns the single-game record for a tight end with 214 receiving yards, and set that mark while with the Denver Broncos in 2002. His coach was Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father. In that particular game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 20, 2002, Sharpe caught one pass for 8 yards in overtime. The Broncos won 37-34.

So, Kittle does have the NFL record for most receiving yards from a tight end in regulation. But through two quarters, it appeared he would be no problem shattering Sharpe’s record.

So, what prevented the 49ers from getting the record for Kittle?

“First of all, I wish that we did, and I definitely could have just said, ‘Hey, my goal in this half is to get George the record,’ ” Kyle Shanahan said. “We had a number of plays called to him. One, we had a lookey call to him, and he got doubled, so you go to Dante (Pettis) on it. That was good.

“Fourth play of it, we had a play called, and they got under it in zone coverage, so we threw it away. After that, I think you have to think in a very humble way when you call games. You try to win the game, and you try to do what’s right.”

There even was a play call in which Shanahan said he wanted quarterback Nick Mullens to get the ball to Kittle on a shovel pass.

“It was covered,” Shanahan said. “If we would have forced it, then he would have lost 3 yards, and now he would have needed 8 yards instead of 5."

[RELATED: Even Broncos sing Kittle's praises after big game]

The 49ers ran 66 total plays in the game, but just 27 of them came in the second half, as the team had difficulty getting first downs and staying on the field.

“I thought it would happen naturally throughout the game,” Shanahan said.

“Every play mattered there at the end, so you’re just trying to call plays to try to win the game, not to break a record. That’s what you feel bad about. I wish he could have broken the record. He deserved to.”

49ers' Pierre Garçon will have season-ending knee surgery, head to IR


49ers' Pierre Garçon will have season-ending knee surgery, head to IR

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon will undergo a season-ending procedure on his knee on Tuesday. 

Garçon, 32, missed the past four games with a knee condition and will go on injured reserve this week, coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

The veteran wideout appeared in eight games this season and caught 24 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown, but Garçon’s future with the 49ers is in question. He is scheduled to earn $6 million in salary and bonuses next season.

The 49ers have three wide receivers on the practice squad who are candidates to be promoted for the final three games: Victor Bolden Jr., Max McCaffrey and Steven Dunbar.

[RELATED: NFL Power Rankings Week 15]

In other injury news, defensive end Cassius Marsh reported to the team facility with concussion symptoms on Monday and was placed in the NFL’s return-to-play protocol.

Cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle) and Tarvarius Moore (shoulder) are day-to-day. Running back Matt Breida (ankle), safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder), cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee), and linebackers Mark Nzeocha (groin) and Malcolm Smith (Achilles), will be re-checked on Wednesday.

Rookie defensive lineman Kentavius Street, a fourth-round pick who tore his ACL in the pre-draft process, might practice this week, Shanahan said. Street remains on the non-football injury list. He will not play this season, but the 49ers can get him on the practice field for the final three weeks.