During the 49ers' 26-23 overtime win on the road over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, coach Kyle Shanahan wore a pin on his chest with the number 88 to honor Demaryius Thomas, who died last Thursday at the age of 33.
The head coach and the late Pro Bowl wide receiver did not cross paths in Denver, but on Monday Shanahan went into detail how Thomas touched the lives of so many people he knew.
“I know so many people who are so close to him,” Shanahan said. “Just being from Denver, I have a bunch of good friends who are from there and were really good friends with him. I know how much they’ve been hurting these past couple days.”
Shanahan shared that many of his friends and family members who still reside in the Denver area knew Thomas well, including his brother and sister-in-law. The receiver didn’t just know the adults -- he also took time to get to know their children.
The 49ers coaching staff also has members that were devastated by the news of Thomas’ sudden and tragic passing. Wide receivers coach Wes Welker and Bill Walsh diversity fellow Orlando Franklin both played for the Broncos during Thomas’ nine seasons with the team.
“It was really tough on Wes Welker this weekend and really tough on Orlando Franklin, guys who played with him,” Shanahan said. “I knew Wes was doing it because he had a personal relationship with him. I asked Wes if he thought that was something that his family would want to see and he said yes.
“I was very happy to do it. It was a horrible thing that happened.”
Thomas spent nine seasons with the Broncos and additional time with the Houston Texans and New York Jets. He was voted to the Pro Bowl four times, to the NFL Top 100 list four times and racked up over 10,000 all purpose yards.
More important was what Thomas did off the field connecting with countless players, coaches and fans.