Kyle Shanahan

49ers hopeful Kris Kocurek can unleash Solomon Thomas in crucial third year

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USATSI

49ers hopeful Kris Kocurek can unleash Solomon Thomas in crucial third year

MOBILE, Ala. -- 49ers defesive coordinator Robert Saleh knows a big question for San Francisco's defense heading into 2019 is how they plan to use defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Saleh explained new coach Kris Kocurek is going to have a lot of influence in that decision. 

“Kris Kocurek is studying him,” Saleh said, “and we’re going to sit down. I want his thoughts unbiased so I’m not going to put anything out there right now. He knows what we did last year. He knows where our thoughts are initially. We’re going to have him study it.” 

Kocurek was a coach that became available with the staff changes in Miami. Both coach Kyle Shanahan and Saleh said that it wasn’t anything against former defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, as there was no plan to make a change. It was simply an opportunity they needed to take advantage of

“We all want to see what he says and how he views him,” Saleh said. “From there as an organization, we’ll do what’s best for the organization and put Solly in the best position to be successful.”

Thomas will be entering his third season, which Saleh says is a very important one for players. It’s a chance for them to be able to show that they can decipher what an offense is going to do, fast enough to be able to make plays. 

“You know the standard,” Saleh said. ‘You know the defense. You know what’s being asked of you. Can you recognize offenses fast enough now to be able to trigger and do things at a higher level? Usually a third year is a great year for players to play.

“I’ve been out here, I’ve seen the split, I’ve seen this release before. How quickly can you recognize it so now you can go make plays? It’s going to be a big year in terms of offensive identification for these guys to really showcase how good they’ve gotten.” 

Thomas has been steadily making progress after missing much of the offseason his rookie year, which stunted his growth. He played in all 16 games in 2018, registering 31 total tackles (24 solo), three for a loss. 

While Thomas only recorded one sack, he was a consistent disruption in the middle of the line. This was particularly notable in the 49ers' win over the Seahawks in Week 13 when he drew two holding calls late in the game that helped secure the victory. 

There has been a lot of pressure on Thomas to be a game-changing player after being selected as the third overall pick in 2017. The defensive coaching staff has struggled to figure out where he can be the most productive. They had originally played him on the outside, even though he was very productive on the inside at Stanford. 

The 49ers are hopeful Kocurek’s fresh set of eyes will help put Thomas in a better position to heighten his productivity and improve the team's struggling pass rush.

2019 Senior Bowl: Why players loved Kyle Shanahan's expletive-filled speech

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AP

2019 Senior Bowl: Why players loved Kyle Shanahan's expletive-filled speech

MOBILE, Ala., — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan delivered a fiery, expletive-filled post practice speech at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday. It may have caused the sound to get cut off of the NFL Network broadcast, but it went over well with the young players on the South team. 

Shanahan was obviously not informed that the sound from the huddle would be broadcast live. Regardless of the censoring implications, several players explained how Shanahan’s attitude has been a motivating factor for them at practice. 

“Coach Shanahan, from the moment he first spoke with us,” LSU tight end Foster Moreau said, “has been awesome. You can kind of tell he carries himself with this passion, this burning fire he has going. He just loves football and he said it was a great practice.” 

Moreau continued by saying that Shanahan was impressed with the players, especially for their first day. The practice concluded without any botched snaps or missed assignments, which was great for everyone learning a new system. 

Though he's known for working with the offense more, Shanahan even had the defense pumped with his speech.

“It gets me fired up,” Mississippi State safety Jonathan Abram said. “For me, I don’t need rah-rah speeches, I’m kind of self motivated, but when you see a coach out there, he’s got passion, he loves what he’s doing, he’s glad to be here.

“It’s more exciting than anything because he didn’t have to come here. He took the time out of his day, his week. He took time away from his team to be here, so I’m just appreciative of that.” 

Alabama State offensive lineman Tytus Howard said he thought the speech came from more of a disciplinary direction. 

“He’s just being real,” Howard said. “Had a couple guys who were late to meetings and stuff, doing stuff they weren’t supposed to be doing. That’s coaching. He’s a great coach, it was a great message to the team, great message that will help motivate us today.” 

Shanahan’s speech caught Utah State tight end Dax Raymond off guard, but for a good reason. 

“It was awesome,” Raymond said. “I kind of had to sit back for a second and take it in and say ‘This is an NFL coach right now, giving me a post-practice speech.’ It was a moment to remember for sure.” 

As far as the expletives go, Raymond said it didn’t phase him one bit. 

“It’s a pretty common thing in the football world," Raymond said. “You kind of just get used to them, or numb to it, so it didn’t really affect me much.” 

Raymond is very aware of how the 49ers used Pro-Bowl tight end George Kittle in 2018 and is taking advantage of the opportunity to learn how to add those elements to his game. 

“I’ve loved every second,” Raymond said. “I’m trying to suck in as much information as I can while I have them here.” 

Kyle Shanahan drops multiple f-bombs, NFL Network cuts away from practice

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USATSI

Kyle Shanahan drops multiple f-bombs, NFL Network cuts away from practice

Ah, the peril of live television.

NFL Network thought they were capturing a nice moment between Kyle Shanahan and his South squad during Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday in Mobile, Ala.

The second-year 49ers coach was giving his players some advice. But a few seconds into the speech, Shanahan forced NFL Network to audible.

"Alright, make sure you're on time," Shanahan started to tell the players. "Whether it's at weigh-ins, whether it's meeting with us, whether it's an appointment you have with anyone here, because those are the questions everyone wants to ask of you guys. You'll do everything f****** perfect around here and then have one f****** ..."

That's when the NFL Network host jumped in and spoke over the rest of Shanahan's speech. Moments later, they cut to a commercial.

Oops. Guess the NFL Network censors weren't fast enough.

You can watch the NSFW video here: