As world piles on Kyle Shanahan, 49ers' locker room is standing by him

As world piles on Kyle Shanahan, 49ers' locker room is standing by him

There's no shortage of criticism being directed at 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for San Francisco's stunning collapse against the Kanas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. However, it's not coming from within his own locker room.

Quite the opposite, actually.

The strong bond between players and coaches that was emboldened over the 49ers' progression from the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to NFC champions was readily apparent in the comments emanating from their distraught locker room following the 31-20 loss at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. 

After finishing his postgame press conference, Shanahan returned to his deflated team. Surely, he was in a terrible mood as well, knowing that for the second time in four years, he had the Lombardi Trophy in his grasp, only to see it slip away. Nonetheless, he put his personal disappointment aside and, according to NFL Media's Mike Silver, delivered an uplifting speech befitting of a leader. His players certainly appreciated it.

"Kyle held his head high," defensive end Dee Ford described. "He told us, 'Of course it's not the result we wanted, but I'll line up with any player in here, anytime.' He told us, 'This team is special.' And it is."

As sad as tight end George Kittle was while watching his coach have to make that speech -- rather than the joyous one they were all hoping for -- he valued the sentiment of Shanahan's message.

"S--t, it was brutal," Kittle said. "I don't know how to describe it. It just sucked. Kyle was great, though. That's one thing I do like about Kyle is, he keeps it real, all the time. I love playing for him."

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk scored one of San Francisco's two touchdowns in the Super Bowl, and played a critical role in setting up the other. He was one of the first free-agents to sign with the 49ers after Shanahan was hired ahead of the 2017 season, and he had only glowing things to say about his coach after the lowest point of their time together.

"I have so much love and respect for Kyle," Juszczyk said. "He's the best coach that I've ever played for. He's the same guy every single day, no matter what happens. He always looks to himself first when it comes to blame. And he takes our ideas and suggestions and will really listen, and think about implementing things after the fact. It sucks just because of how much everybody respects and loves him, and because we hate to hear any negativity about him, and we know it's coming."

[RELATED: How Shanahan's lack of aggressiveness cost 49ers before]

Juszczyk, a Harvard alumnus, is a smart guy. The negativity has already begun to flow, and it's going to be quite some time until the faucet is turned all the way off. It won't be coming from within the locker room, though, and that will be key as the 49ers try to get back to the Super Bowl next year.

Why Kendrick Bourne is thrilled 49ers put second-round tender on him

Why Kendrick Bourne is thrilled 49ers put second-round tender on him

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has become a staple of the 49ers' offense, and the team is looking to keep him around.

Back on March 17, the 49ers placed second-round tenders on Bourne and running back Matt Breida.

Appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast with NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco last week, Bourne was asked for his thoughts on the 49ers' decision.

"Definitely thrilled," Bourne said from his parents' home in Portland, Oregon. "Just kind of relieved a little bit, just feeling the respect coming around a little bit on my name, respect from the league and all that, the whole nine yards. Especially going to the Super Bowl, my team being a great team, us making it that far helps everybody, period, on the team. So just thrilled and thankful for the Niners for still believing in me after three years, believing for Year Four and just ready to attack it.

"It just sucks that our OTAs have been postponed. Really excited to get back and get to work, be around the guys again, but just a little more time to work and get a little more polished before OTAs, so I guess that's cool now."

As a restricted free agent, Bourne is allowed to negotiate a contract with another team. If he signs an offer sheet and the 49ers choose not to match, the team would get a second-round draft as compensation.

[RELATED: Impact Sanders had on 49ers' receivers]

Undrafted out of Eastern Washington, Bourne signed with the 49ers in 2017. This past season, he caught 30 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns.

NFL Draft 2020: Agents share how coronavirus changes impact prospects

NFL Draft 2020: Agents share how coronavirus changes impact prospects

The 2020 NFL Draft might favor players who were able to able to attend the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, because of pro days and in-person meetings being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But some agents believe teams have all the information they need to proceed on schedule.

Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott, from Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about how their preparation for the draft has been consistent to what they’ve done in the past. Their agency represents Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, among other draft hopefuls.

Both longtime agents believe players who attended an All-Star event or the combine have an advantage, but that always has been the case. As in every draft, there will be players who exceed expectations and those who don’t live up to them.

“When I first started in the industry in 1975 with Steve Bartkowski, there were no pro days, no team meetings, no combine,” Steinberg said. “If you look at statistics from players then, to those selected in 2005, the players in 1975 were more successful and productive. 

“Teams obviously believe that the more information they have, the better, but at some point, it’s enough. I believe they have enough information to make educated and prudent choices.”

Brett Tessler, who represents 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, believes players who weren’t able to attend or weren’t invited to the combine are at a disadvantage across the board. An off-the-radar player won’t have the chance to catch a scout or coach’s eye at a local pro day and jump up a team’s draft board.

“For most non-combine guys, it's going to put everybody at an equal disadvantage,” Tessler told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Teams will rely more on the spring testing numbers that they got prior to this season.

“But, the biggest disadvantage for non-combine guys trying to get drafted is the lack of being brought in for pre-draft visits, where the medical staffs can do all the background work on these guys that they need to do.”

Just like everyone across the nation, players, agents and teams are taking advantage of video conferencing technology such as Zoom and Skype for their 30 one-on-one pre-draft visits. This actually might be the one advantage for players who have grown up with video calls as the norm.

[RELATED: Why Kentucky's Bowden is intriguing for Shanahan, 49ers]

As in the past, teams still have the ability to ask players schematic questions using a virtual chalkboard, and go over game film during video conferencing sessions. Cabott also believes one resource could be more important than in previous pre-draft research.

“Trainers,” Cabott said. “Those guys who were working with players, getting them ready for pro days will have information that will be important for teams. They can give projections, send videos of testing and have insight to a player’s work ethic.”