49ers

Shanahan's career indicates he's ready to adjust on the fly as head coach

Shanahan's career indicates he's ready to adjust on the fly as head coach

Change is the one constant in life and definitely, the one constant in life in the NFL. Mastering that change is why Kyle Shanahan is now the 49ers head coach.

“You have to learn how to adjust. Me, going around having to work with different quarterbacks, being on different teams, I’ve been forced to do that,” Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in a recent sit-down interview. “Being forced to do that makes you better, because you start to realize that there’s different ways to succeed. You have to know that from an X’s and O’s standpoint, and you have to be able to commit to it to get your players good at it.

"When you get the experience of trying different things, it does give you confidence. It feels that no matter what the situation is, you can figure out something that gives you a chance to be successful.”

The crux of Shanahan’s experience came as he managed two starting quarterbacks in each of his four seasons as the OC in Washington and continually reworked the offense for three starting quarterbacks in his one season in the same position with Cleveland. But the difficulty of the task before him now is the most monumental.

The 37-year-old was hired to figure out what something will give the 49ers a chance to be successful again. Shanahan seeks balance on offense, defense and special teams. But success starts with the quarterback, he explains, and rolls from there. The head coach, who is also offensive coordinator with San Francisco, is not set on which players are going to roll with him following Thursday night's final exhibition game against the Chargers.

“I’m not sure who the 53 are going to be. Most of the times in my career I’ve gone into this game knowing, ‘Alright, there are just a couple positions we’re not sure about. We’ve got to really watch these two guys.’ I feel much different this year. There are a lot of things that can happen, a lot of things that could change.” 

Such as sending a draft pick to the Lions in exchange for offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson, as the 49ers did Thursday. Teams have until Saturday at 1 p.m. PT to determine their 53-man rosters. But as the trade for Tomlinson hours before kick off indicates, that deadline doesn’t mean much for the 49ers this season.

“We’re going to have the best 53 possible when it’s all said and done, but I know that’s something that might look different in Week 16. We’re going to have to continue to get better throughout this year. Hopefully we’ll be better from it and be better next year.”

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

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AP

Rookie LB Fred Warner is setting the tone for 49ers, but he might be a little too loud

When the 49ers selected inside linebacker Fred Warner of BYU in the third round of the draft, it was easy to see how he fit into the team's plan with the degree of uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster.

While Foster remained away from the team’s offseason program for five weeks, Warner felt a need to get up to speed quickly if he was needed to be a starter for Week 1 of the regular season. Warner said he was determined to learn as quickly as possible at whatever position he lined up.

“They want consistency over a guy who can make a play here and there,” Warner said on The 49ers insider Podcast. “Because if you’re a liability and you’re out there missing assignments, stuff like that, that’s going to get you cut. You have to be able to retain this information very quickly and be able to produce on the field and put a good product out there. That’s the biggest thing.”

The 49ers consider the middle linebacker (mike) and weakside linebacker (will) positions as nearly interchangeable. The major difference is the mike position is the player who communicates in the huddle. Malcolm Smith is lining up with the first team at mike, while Foster is at will. Warner is leading the second team at mike.

Foster joined the 49ers’ offseason for the final four weeks after a judge dismissed two felony charges of domestic violence. Warner knew all about Foster, the player, before meeting him as a teammate.

“He’s a very physical player, and something I didn’t know about him that I know now, he’s probably the smartest guy in the room,” Warner said. “This dude has the memory of an elephant. He doesn’t have to write notes down. He just retains things very quickly. And I think that’s what allowed him to play at such a high level as a rookie last year, aside from his physical talent.”

Warner has also learned a lot from Smith, who played six NFL seasons before sitting out last year with a torn pectoral.

“We’ve worked after practice on man coverage on tight ends and running backs.,” Warner said. “Even though that might not be something we touch on in practice or a meeting, he just wants to touch on that with me because he said, ‘If you can do this, you can play on any team in the NFL.’ “

One of the few critiques of the rookie during the offseason program is that Warner, who said he was a quiet kid as a youngster, has been a little too loud.

“He’s very smart and he plays like it on the field,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during the first week of OTAs. “He doesn’t hesitate. He’s a rookie out there, but he’s calling the plays maybe even too loud because I can hear him from the offensive side. But, he doesn’t mind speaking up. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”

Warner said he wanted to win the confidence of his teammates, so that might have contributed to his increased decibel level.

“I want to make sure that when I get in that huddle and I’m talking to these guys, that they know that I know what I’m doing and I’m ready to go,” Warner said. “I’m the one who’s going to set the tone in the huddle before the play even happens.”

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

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AP

Former 49ers lineman Keith Fahnhorst, 66, passes away

Keith Fahnhorst, who played 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, died on Tuesday. He was 66.

Fahnhorst was among a large group of players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl championship team that gathered at Levi’s Stadium in October in a celebration of Dwight Clark. Fahnhorst and Clark were teammates for the 49ers’ Super Bowl-titlle teams of 1981 and 1984. Clark passed away on June 6 from ALS.

Fahnhorst, who was in a wheelchair during his trip to the Bay Area last season, battled many physical ailments since his career ended in 1987. He was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2002. Fahnhorst was also later diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

A second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Fahnhorst was a mainstay at right tackle as the organization struggled in the mid-to-late 1970s, then found success in the 1980s under coach Bill Walsh.

“Everybody knew they could count on Keith,” Walsh said in the 2005 book, “San Francisco 49ers: Where Have Gone?”

Fahnhorst appeared in 193 regular-season games, ranking behind only Len Rohde among offensive linemen in 49ers history. He started 170 games, including all 10 postseason games in which he appeared. He was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team and was selected as a first-team All-Pro after the 1984 season. He was a two-time winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for best representing the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime 49ers offensive line coach.

Keith Fahnhorst and his younger brother, Jim, were 49ers teammates for the final four years of Keith’s career. Jim Fahnhorst, a linebacker, played for the 49ers from 1984 to 1990. Neither Keith nor Jim Fahnhorst played for any NFL team other than the 49ers.