Kyle Shanahan believes 2021 is providing an advantage for the 49ers.
After a year without organized team activities (OTAs) due to COVID-19 restrictions, the head coach believes his team has a leg up on the rest of the league.
Even though it was revealed Thursday that the 49ers violated NFL rules and reportedly were instructed to cancel the final week of their OTAs, Shanahan feels confident in where the team is now compared to last season.
With nearly 100-percent OTA attendance in 2021, the team was able to make significant progress before their six-week summer break. 2020’s shortened offseason — lack of rookie minicamp and OTAs made preparing for Week 1 exponentially more difficult for both coaches and players.
“This year when we get to training camp it won’t be the first time I’ve seen our players since our last game,” Shanahan said during the State of the Franchise event. “Being able to go through a month of offseason together, have a little camaraderie, work through some things, it’s needed time off but I know our team is ready to come back.
“I know how hungry our team is. They were hungry last year and last year was a frustrating year for us all. All you could do is deal with it and wait for the next year and it’s only about a month away. Can’t wait for those days to get here.”
Shanahan gave credit to his players and CEO owner Jed York, who makes it attractive for the players to stay and train during the offseason. The team facility provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for players, as well as training and medical staff,to assist with workouts.
With those perks, Shanahan sees more players sticking around even when it isn’t a requirement. The coach explained this year’s near-perfect attendance — only Dee Ford was absent — reminded the head coach of the team’s Super Bowl run.
“The best offseason I felt we had here was the 2019 one,” Shanahan said. “When our season ended, barely any players went away and guys were working out on their own. To miss that after the Super Bowl year, made me want it more than anything this year, and the way the league was going I wasn’t sure if we were going to get it.”
With the NFLPA standing behind its players not wanting to attend OTAs, Shanahan was wary of how many would show up to practice at the end of May. The head coach was happily surprised by how many players attended and both sides took full advantage of their time together.
“When you miss practicing football it takes a little bit of your edge away and I always felt like the type of people we bring in here are guys that don’t have a problem working,” Shanahan said. “They want to work. It’s kind of tough to work at football without playing football.”
“We get a pretty good turn out here and it allows us to actually get better at what we do. That’s an advantage we have over a lot of teams— to watch all of our guys show up here and go to work, I feel we got more work done here than anyone I know about in the league and I credit our guys for that.”