What 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan learned from his first football job


What 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan learned from his first football job

Kyle Shanahan is the son of two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan and widely is considered one of the brightest young minds in football.

But before the younger Shanahan could help build some of the best offenses at the NFL, he got his start in coaching at UCLA as a graduate assistant at the ripe age of 23.

"Back then, I was right out of college, so everything I wanted to show, I would put cleats on and try to demonstrate it," Shanahan told ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "You are still wanting to play, and it's neat because you are close in age to all those guys, so you can relate with them a lot more. But you're learning so much more, so you can help bring stuff to the table to them that you don't always have that connection as you get a lot older."

During the 2003 season, Shanahan spent time around running back Maurice Jones-Drew, tight end Marcedes Lewis and quarterback Drew Olson.

But Shanahan only spent one season with the Bruins before being hired by Jon Gruden to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive quality control coach in 2004.

"But I also didn't know as much then," Shanahan told Wagoner. "I was a GA and just getting into it. But I think you start to realize when you can help people and teach them stuff, and you can answer questions that help people, it doesn't matter whether you're a GA, a head coach, a quality control, a coordinator or whether you're talking to a walk-on or Maurice Jones-Drew or Marcedes Lewis. If you can say something that helps people and makes sense to them, they will respect you and listen to you.

"That's why I don't think appearance or age or whatever matters. It's if you know what you're talking about. That's why I don't think you have to be a guy who MFs people if you know what you're talking about. And I feel like I've always taken that from a young age and tried to be consistent with it."

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Before taking the 49ers head coaching job in 2017, Shanahan spent two seasons in Atlanta and built the Falcons into an offensive juggernaut. He hasn't been able to replicate that success in Santa Clara just yet, but the 49ers are trending upwards.

At just 39 years old, Shanahan has plenty of time left to leave his mark on the game of football.

49ers' Kwon Alexander excited to get back on field, return to Tampa Bay

49ers' Kwon Alexander excited to get back on field, return to Tampa Bay

SANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Kwon Alexander is finally ready for his preseason debut with the 49ers, but he’s finding it difficult to not look ahead to returning to Tampa Bay in Week 1. 

“It’s hard, it’s hard,” Alexander confessed. “But you know, I take it one day at a time. Try to make sure my team is straight and I’m straight so once we get there it’s time."

The 49ers' player-performance staff has been limiting Alexander’s time on the field, moving gradually from individual drills to 11-on-11s, and now finally a game. Alexander has tried not to compare his progress to other player’s recovery timetables. 

“Everybody is different so I’ve been working hard, been working my butt off so it’s time to go,” Alexander said. 

Alexander detailed how it's been a long road back, but also how he knew exactly when he was ready. 

"Once I got my speed,” Alexander explained. “Once I could hit it going really fast, being able to cut and everything, and being able to adjust. Now I’m ready to go.” 

Alexander is excited to get on the field after nearly a year away from the game after tearing his ACL late October 2018. He believes it’s a necessary step in getting ready for the regular season. 

“It’s a big thing for me,” Alexander said. “I haven’t played since a minute now so I’m happy to be back out there. I just think playing instead of practicing, playing in a real game, you know it’s better to be ready for the first game, so you get your feet wet, since I ain’t played so I’m ready to go out there and show what I can do.” 

Being away from the game has made the fifth-year linebacker appreciate it even more. 

“I put a lot on it,” Alexander said, “Just for me, ball can be gone away from you very fast. So it just made me be more humble, and just work harder and harder, and now I’m here.” 

One thing that Alexander has been able to do while being kept off the field is influence fellow linebacker Fred Warner and his leadership style. Alexander had nothing but compliments for his partner on the field. 

“He’s just been doing great,” Alexander said of Warner. “He’s very smart, intelligent, he’s going to be nice. I need to keep his name out there alive, he’s going to be a great middle linebacker.”

Alexander sees Warner’s potential even after only a few months together during the offseason. 

“I’ve already seen it,” Alexander said. “This is his second year, too. I remember my first two years and he’s way ahead of me so he’s going to be a great player.” 

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Along with the excitement of his return, Alexander almost seems a little relieved to have this final hurdle just a few days in front of him. 

“I’m back man, I’m back. When we’ve been practicing, I’ve been working on everything. Now it’s just time to take it to the game. It’s time. I’m ready.”

49ers' DeForest Buckner motivated by being left off NFL top players list


49ers' DeForest Buckner motivated by being left off NFL top players list

SANTA CLARA -- DeForest Bucker says getting snubbed from the NFL’s top 100 players list is only more motivation for him. 

Throughout joint practices in Denver, Buckner was a huge challenge for the Broncos offensive linemen. He disrupted the pocket enough for Broncos offensive coordinator and former 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello to make a comment. 

“He’s one of probably the three or four best interior players in this league,” Scangarello said. "So yeah, he’s always going to be tough to block and if you’re not planning around him, he’s going to cause problems.”

Buckner being left off the list was a surprise to many 49ers fans, players and even to Buckner himself. 

“Yeah, I know, it’s crazy, right?" Buckner said. “You know, it is what is. Honestly at the end of the day, if I’m doing my job and contributing to my team, it’s all that matters to me, and the respect will come. 

Buckner will use the omission as reason make a bigger impression on the league.

"I mean it’s just more fuel to the fire, you know what I’m saying?” 

Buckner, who will make his preseason debut in Kansas City on Saturday, is excited to finally see the field after nearly eight months. He has been impressed with what he has seen from the defense thus far especially in Denver.

“I saw guys were flying around, playing physical,” Buckner said. “I thought the defense looked really good as a whole. Obviously, there are some parts we can fix up on all ends of the field, but I know overall the guys played hard.” 

Much has been noted about the increased speed of the defensive line with the addition of free-agent pass rusher Dee Ford and first-round pick Nick Bosa. Even without the pair of edge rushers playing in Denver, Bucker said the evolution is apparent. 

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“Most definitely,” Buckner said. “I see a lot more guys confident in their ability and their assignments. Guys are just flying around and hitting anything moving and it’s exciting to see.” 

Buckner plans on playing through the first half of the team's third preseason game in Kansas City. Kick-off is at 5 p.m. PT.