49ers

Shanahan will keep OC duties, tries to convince Rathman to remain

Shanahan will keep OC duties, tries to convince Rathman to remain

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan has spent the past nine seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator.

Nothing will change in 2017 in his first season as 49ers head coach.

Shanahan, 37, will call the team’s offensive plays. He will not have an assistant coach under him with the title of “offensive coordinator,” he said on Thursday during his introductory press conference at Levi’s Stadium.

“I plan on calling the plays, which is usually an offensive coordinator’s duties,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think it’s that important to name an offensive coordinator. I didn’t think it was the most important thing right now.

“I don’t know if it’s always going to be like that, but especially in this first year, I think it’s important to set that tone.”

Shanahan said he has yet to finalize the contracts for any of the assistant coaches on his staff. He is expected to bring at least three assistants with him from the Atlanta Falcons, including running backs coach Bobby Turner, and offensive assistants Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur.

The addition of Turner leaves the status of long-time assistant coach Tom Rathman in question. Shanahan said he wants to retain Rathman on his staff in another role.

“I talked to Tom today,” Shanahan said. “I made a commitment to Bobby Turner a long time ago that if I got a head-coaching job I was going to take him with me, regardless of where that was. And Bobby is a life-long running backs coach, just like Tom. Bobby is going to come here and be the running back coach.

“I love Tom Rathman. He’s a hero of mine, and I know what kind of coach he is. I’m trying hard to get him to be here in whatever other role he wants. But I know Tom. Tom is a running backs coach. I’m going to try my hardest to keep him here. It’s definitely going to be up to him. But I’m going to have to do some convincing.”

Turner spent 15 seasons on Mike Shanahan’s staff with the Denver Broncos. Kyle Shanahan’s design for the run game run game is based on what his father did with the Broncos’ zone scheme.

Rathman was a fullback with the 49ers from 1986 to ’93, during which time he was a starter on two Super Bowl-winning teams and seven NFC West champions.

He was hired Steve Mariucci’s coaching staff in 1997. He spent six seasons with the 49ers before going with Mariucci to the Detroit Lions for three seasons. He served as Lane Kiffin’s running backs coach with the Raiders in 2007 and ’08.

Rathman returned to the 49ers in 2009, where he has worked under Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

Super Bowl 54 odds: Kyle Shanahan at 100-1 to blow another 28-3 lead

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USATSI

Super Bowl 54 odds: Kyle Shanahan at 100-1 to blow another 28-3 lead

Kyle Shanahan hasn't forgotten that the Atlanta Falcons infamously blew a 28-3 lead in their Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots. 

The 49ers coach cited the loss as a valuable learning experience in the lead-up to Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 3, and he doesn't think he'll repeat history in Miami. If you think he will against the Kansas City Chiefs, then you can get action on that. 

New Jersey-based sportsbook PointsBet listed the 49ers as having 100-1 odds of blowing a 28-3 lead against the Chiefs in a prop bet, according to ESPN's David Purdum. The Super Bowl is synonymous with highly specific wagering, and it's only fitting that one of the most-memed moments in NFL history has earned such a designation. 

The Falcons' long history of heartbreak, providing the movable object, came to the forefront against the unstoppable force that was (is?) the Patriots' historic dominance. New England completed the 25-point comeback in the Super Bowl's first overtime session, as Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Co. won their fifth ring -- all at the expense of a city once called "Loserville."

[RELATED: How Kittle's run-blocking enthusiasm rubs off on 49ers]

Shanahan's first season on the 49ers' sideline came the following season, and San Francisco's appearance in Super Bowl LIV will be his first in the big game since, well, 28-3 happened. The 40-year-old hasn't let the scoreline define him, but it has since defined his approach as a head coach. He told reporters in Santa Clara this week that the blown lead is "something that keeps you humble every single moment until the game is over." 

And, surely, so will the Chiefs erasing double-digit playoff deficits with regularity. 

49ers have great challenge defending Chiefs' Travis Kelce in Super Bowl LIV

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AP

49ers have great challenge defending Chiefs' Travis Kelce in Super Bowl LIV

SANTA CLARA – The Kansas City Chiefs employ an Olympic track team at the skill positions. That’s what it seems like with so many lightning quick parts of the pattern, who could combine to form one heck of a relay team.

Travis Kelce might never get the baton in that situation. He might not even be an alternate on the 4x100, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous as a receiving tight end.

He’s the best of this generation, certainly equal to 49ers tight end George Kittle as a receiver. Kelce was a second-team All-Pro behind Kittle this year after being named to the first team two of the past three seasons.

In short, he’s awesome. Kelce also adds another dimension to the passing game. He isn’t slow by any stretch, even if he’d never beat Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Waktins in a race.

He’s physical, quick and a human mismatch against linebackers and safeties alike. He’s someone the 49ers will focus on Feb. 2 in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

“The dude is a receiving threat for sure,” 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner said. “They like to put him in a lot of different positions to get him to catch the ball, and he knows what to do with it after he catches it. So I mean, he's a mismatch for sure. You don't really know who to put on him. You put a safety on him, he's a bigger body. You put a linebacker on him, he's shifty, he's fast. So he's going to be a challenge for us for sure.”

The 49ers, however, are used to covering elite tight ends. They did it often in the offseason and training camp dealing with Kittle – top units play the scout team during a regular-season practice week – when first units clash.

Kittle studies him as much as anyone looking for tips in the game tape, and respects Kelce’s game.

“I've been a fan of Travis Kelce since he's been in the league,” Kittle said. “I watched his tape when I was in college. Watch his tape now. I get his games every single week so I can watch what he does. He's definitely one of the best in the game at what he does, receiving, just finding open spots. I got to meet Travis last year when we played him at the Chiefs. Had a jersey exchange after the season and then I met him again in Atlanta during the Super Bowl. So we definitely know each other. He's awesome.”

[RELATED: Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy indentifies 'heart and soul' of 49ers' defense]

He could be a headache running over the middle, especially on third down. Kelce led the NFL with 1,229 receiving yards on 97 catches on 130 targets, with 66 receptions going for a first down.

Kelce also knows how good the 49ers have been this season. According to pro-football-reference.com, they allowed a league-low 552 yards to tight ends, on 66 catches during the regular season. They have also given up six touchdowns to tight ends.

That’s why Kelce’s pouring focus into finding ways to game prep.

“I’m working hard, trying to figure out how to beat the 49ers,” Kelce said. “That has been the mindset every day since we won the AFC championship game. We have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of my life, and the clock’s ticking.”