Tagged in: Kyle Shanahan

Trey Lance on being named San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback

While San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s definitive declaration that this team now belongs to quarterback Trey Lance might have come as news to outside observers, it was just another day at the office for Lance himself.

“Honestly, the only difference is I was hoping you guys would stop asking me about it all the time,” Lance said Thursday. “For me, it wasn’t really a moment or anything like that. I’ve been excited. I’ve been preparing to play since the day I got here, since the day I got drafted. So, obviously excited for this year but nothing has really changed this whole offseason.”

Shanahan made that statement Tuesday, the day the Niners reported for the start of this year’s training camp. And though it had long been expected that Lance was ready to step in as the starter, Shanahan had previously declined to say it in such certain terms.

But with training camp’s arrival and the pending departure of incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who has passed a physical as he recovers from right shoulder surgery, nobody had much reason to further delay the unavoidable.

After taking all of the reps with the starting offense in the offseason program, Lance arrived at this camp knowing that the job was his and that every practice is a chance to prepare to lead a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

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For right now, the objective for the Niners is to reinforce the fundamentals of Shanahan’s offense before turning an eye toward some of the additional skills — such as running — that Lance brings to the table.

“There’s certain plays you have to get good at just to succeed in this league and to move the ball,” Shanahan said. “And then what can Trey do differently than we’ve had? I do believe Trey is a threat to run at any time, so knowing that he is a threat to run at any time, that definitely changes things. That gives another element that defenses have to worry about.”

Lance’s first two days of practice as the confirmed starter have come with some ups and downs.

On Wednesday, he took 16 snaps in team drills, operating mostly from the pocket and appearing to be in control as he completed 5 of 7 passes during team drills.

On Thursday, Lance had a few more hiccups, including an interception he threw right to free safety Jimmie Ward and a couple of misfires to open targets that fell incomplete.

Lance was pleased with how the offense rebounded, and he drew large cheers from fans when he scrambled for a long run down the left sideline and again when he found receiver Brandon Aiyuk between two defenders on a deep out late in the session.

Despite the miscues, Lance stated he felt like Thursday was better than Wednesday, though he acknowledged the turnovers have to stop (the offense had three other interceptions in addition to Lance’s).

If nothing else, Lance can move forward confidently knowing he’s free to make and learn from mistakes without looking over his shoulder.

“Last year I was definitely in a different spot mentally, I would say,” Lance said. “Just feeling a lot more confident this year coming in knowing what I’m doing, knowing the offense a lot better, knowing the guys a lot better, having been around this organization and coaching staff for a year, I think it will be a great thing.”

As for Garoppolo, he has been in the building and continuing his throwing program but is not attending practice as the Niners seek a trade partner for him. Lance said he saw Garoppolo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s nothing weird at all,” Lance said. “I’ve never had anything I could possibly say that’s bad about Jimmy. He’s been a big brother to me since the day I came in, and he could have made things hell for me last year. He didn’t. He helped me out with everything so I’m super excited to see him healthy, I’m super excited to see him throwing again and super excited to see what he does.”

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Center Alex Mack announces retirement after 13 NFL seasons

After 13 NFL seasons, Mack announced his retirement via Twitter and in conjunction with the 49ers on Friday morning, bringing an end to a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I have decided to hang up my cleats,” Mack wrote on Twitter. “I am so grateful to the game of football and everything it has given me. From the very start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started to play football because it was fun and that never changed…

“I always tried to hold up my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my effort.”

Mack, 36, earned his final Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year spent in San Francisco. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in March of 2021 in a move that not only reunited him for the third time with coach Kyle Shanahan — the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland — but was something of a full-circle moment for Mack, who played at the University of California in nearby Berkeley.

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At the time, Mack signed a three-year contract but made it clear that he was playing on a year-to-year basis and would evaluate whether to continue at the end of each offseason. Mack stayed committed to that this offseason, leaving many wondering what he was going to do all offseason.

At the NFL owners meetings in late March, Niners general manager John Lynch expressed optimism that Mack was going to return, saying that “all signs are him coming back and being a part of us.”

Lynch’s tone changed dramatically just before the draft about a month later when he stated that he would let Mack make his own announcement when he was ready.

On Thursday, Mack and the Niners agreed to a reworked contract that dropped his base salary for 2022 from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023. The move saved the 49ers more than $4 million in cap space this season, money they quickly used to sign their nine-player draft class.

On Friday, Mack made his retirement official and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.

“The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love for the game and professional approach made a lasting impression over the course of his 13 NFL seasons,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his post-playing career.”

Mack was initially the 21st overall pick by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL draft. He earned three Pro Bowl nods and was a second-team All-Pro once in seven seasons with the Browns before landing three Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro spots in five years with the Falcons.

The 49ers now find themselves looking for a replacement at a position Shanahan values greatly in his offense.

Internal veteran options include Jake Brendel, who has been working with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right guard last season but played some center in 2020.

San Francisco also has a trio of rookies — Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe — who could factor into the mix, though Shanahan has traditionally been reluctant to play someone inexperienced at center.

Outside of the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center on the free-agent market, though he comes with questions about a knee issue that prevented him from practicing much of last season.

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QB Jimmy Garoppolo has ‘slightly’ sprained throwing shoulder, should be OK for Saturday vs. Green Bay Packers

Already playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another injury in Sunday’s triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.

This time, Garoppolo is dealing with what coach Kyle Shanahan called Monday a “slightly” sprained right (throwing) shoulder. According to Shanahan, the injury occurred in the second quarter.

Garoppolo joins linebacker Fred Warner (sprained right ankle) and defensive end Nick Bosa (concussion) on the list of key Niners nursing injuries to watch this week as the team prepares for Saturday night’s NFC divisional-round game versus the Green Bay Packers.

The good news, according to Shanahan, is that Warner and Garoppolo should be ready to go versus Green Bay. In fact, Shanahan believes Garoppolo will be able to practice when the team resumes those sessions on Tuesday.

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“He should be fine for practice,” Shanahan said. “He had to play through some pain and stuff, but he ended up checking out all right. Just a slight shoulder sprain and he should be good for [Tuesday’s] practice.”

Warner sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter and was writhing in pain and grabbing at it, which put a scare into the Niners and their fans. Further testing on Monday, however, revealed it was a low ankle sprain, which means he should also be OK this week, though it’s unclear if he will resume practice right away.

“We’ll evaluate and see as the week goes,” Shanahan stated. “The initial scare was that it could have been high, so we got good news on that. He had something similar to this earlier in the year, but we’ll evaluate him on Wednesday, which I think is Tuesday this week.”

Earlier Monday, Warner had indicated that his injury wasn’t as serious as first feared, tweeting: “Sorry for the scare yesterday everyone, I appreciate everyone showing love and support for me and the fellas. We’ll be good to go. Huge win, onto the next.”

Bosa’s status is more unclear because he must clear the necessary steps of the concussion protocol in order to play.

Bosa suffered his concussion just before halftime of San Francisco’s 23-17 win against Dallas.

Shanahan said he did not get a chance to speak to Bosa on Sunday night or Monday morning but got positive reports from those who did.

“We’re being pretty optimistic with it,” Shanahan said. “I’ve seen that a few times and he seems like he’s in a pretty good spot right now, but I’m not going to be the one who judges that.”

In addition to Garoppolo, Bosa and Warner, Niners defensive end Jordan Willis suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cowboys, which puts his status in doubt against the Packers.

With a short week and less time for their injured players to heal, Shanahan said the Niners will have a lighter schedule this week. They will have a late start time on Tuesday, followed by less strenuous practices on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Green Bay.

“I think the biggest thing about this week is going to be about recovery,” Shanahan said. “So, the more sleep we can do, we’ll slow most of the stuff down. I doubt we get many full-speed reps in this week. … [We’ll] make it pretty easy on the guys this week.”

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San Francisco 49ers RT Mike McGlinchey out for season with torn quadriceps

San Francisco 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey will miss the rest of the 2021 season after suffering a torn quadriceps, coach Kyle Shanahan stated Monday.

McGlinchey suffered the injury in the first half of the Niners’ 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. After the game, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said he was unsure of the severity of McGlinchey’s injury, but further testing revealed the tear Monday morning.

The injury will require surgery that will land McGlinchey on injured reserve, cutting short what was shaping up as a bounce-back season for the fourth-year pro.

“I thought Mike was doing a hell of a job coming off his last year,” Shanahan said. “We saw some really good things from Mike his first two years. I think he knows — we all know he had a setback in his third season last year. He struggled at times. He was putting in the work in the offseason and I thought he’s had a much better year, getting back to how he was playing in his second year.”

Veteran Tom Compton replaced McGlinchey and struggled versus an Arizona defense that finished with five sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, McGlinchey had given up two sacks and 13 pressures in 275 pass-blocking snaps. In 35 pass-blocking snaps on Sunday, Compton allowed a sack and four pressures.

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Shanahan said postgame that rookie Jaylon Moore did not step in for McGlinchey because he’s spent most of his time working at left tackle but acknowledged that if McGlinchey is out for an extended period, Moore would be in consideration to be the long-term replacement, along with Compton.

On Monday, Shanahan mentioned Moore and Compton as potential replacements, and said right guard Daniel Brunskill is also an option, though he’s likely to stay at his current spot.

“We’ve got a number of options in that way so we can see with that but the job will probably go to [Moore or Compton],” Shanahan said.

McGlinchey, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, has started all eight matches at right tackle this season and missed just four of a possible 56 regular season games in his nearly 3 1/2 seasons in the league.

Even after a disappointing 2020, the 49ers picked up McGlinchey’s fifth-year option in April, guaranteeing his $10.88 million salary for the 2022 season.

“I thought he’s been getting better each week and having a better year and playing like the right tackle we need him to play like,” Shanahan said. “And I think he was going to continue to get better as the year went on. Unfortunately, though, he had that injury and he’ll heal up and hopefully this will make him better for next year.”

In addition to McGlinchey, the Niners also lost safety Tavon Wilson to a foot injury and receiver Mohamed Sanu to a knee sprain. Those injuries will keep Wilson and Sanu out “for a while,” according to Shanahan.

Wilson, who started Sunday in place of Jimmie Ward (who is out with a quad injury), is expected to go on injured reserve. Sanu also could, but the Niners were still working through the extent of his injury late Monday afternoon.

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San Francisco 49ers LB Dre Greenlaw to have groin surgery, out indefinitely

The San Francisco 49ers hoped linebacker Dre Greenlaw would be back sooner than later after he injured his groin in last week’s victory against the Detroit Lions.

On Monday, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Greenlaw would be day-to-day this week. On Thursday, it became clear Greenlaw will miss extended time, as he’s slated to have surgery to repair the groin injury, a league source confirmed to ESPN.

Greenlaw’s injury is the third this week to a key 49ers starter that will keep them out for an extended period. It comes on the heels of earlier news that cornerback Jason Verrett and running back Raheem Mostert will miss the rest of the campaign with knee issues.

While Greenlaw is expected back from his surgery, there is not yet a specific timeline for him to return, though he is expected to have the procedure in the next 24 hours and be out into November before being reassessed, the source said.

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Greenlaw appeared to suffer the injury while returning an interception 39 yards for a touchdown just before halftime of last week’s 41-33 victory in Detroit. 

Azeez Al-Shaair replaced Greenlaw after the injury and Greenlaw did not return to the game.

Al-Shaair, who is expected to replace Greenlaw in the lineup, finished with seven tackles, including two for loss, and two passes defended.

“He stood out,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. “Everyone could see the effort, the tackling in space, the way he played — that’s the way a linebacker should play. He made a lot of plays for us … I’m excited to where Azeez started the season and he’ll continue to get better and better.”

The Niners, who are staying at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia leading into Sunday’s game versus the Philadelphia Eagles, are coming off an injury-plagued 2020 season in which they at one point had players worth more than $80 million in salary-cap space on injured reserve.

Losing three starters in Week 1 has caused some Niners captains to take a proactive approach this week in trying to keep their teammates from not falling into a “here we go again” mindset.

“With the last two days working out here, it’s been talked about,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said.

“It’s something that you have to address. It’s not like you could avoid it in any way. It’s just one of those things. You’ve got to stay hydrated, do all the right things, the little things behind the scenes, getting with the trainers, getting with the body maintenance people. I mean, there’s a million little things that go into it and we just can’t get lazy, especially early in the season. It’s going to translate to later in the year and just on and on. It’s all tied together.”

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Injury-bit San Francisco 49ers lose Justin Skule, Tarvarius Moore to season-ending injuries

After their 2020 season was ravaged by injury, the San Francisco 49ers hoped that 2021 would bring better health. They’re not off to a promising start.

During a planned team activity Monday, the Niners lost two players to what will almost certainly be season-ending injuries more than three months before the 2021 campaign initiates. Offensive lineman Justin Skule suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles, according to a team spokesperson.

While neither Skule nor Moore has been an established starter for the Niners, both have played prominent roles in recent seasons.

Skule has played in 31 regular-season matches over the past two years with 12 starts at tackle and guard. He was expected to compete with Shon Coleman for the swing tackle job in training camp before the injury.

Moore had played a similar role in the secondary, appearing in all 48 regular-season games over the past three seasons with 13 starts. He had 49 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2020 when he started eight games. He was expected to compete for the starting job at strong safety before Monday’s injury.

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Without Moore, the Niners have a group including veterans Jaquiski Tartt, Tavon Wilson, Marcell Harris and Tony Jefferson, who signed on Monday, and rookie Talanoa Hufanga to compete for spots on the safety depth chart.

Skule and Moore are the latest in a long run of disappointing injuries to the 49ers.

In 2020, the Niners lost 161.6 games to injury, the second most of any team in the past 20 years, according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric (which also factored in players missing game for COVID-19 reasons).

Many of those injuries affected some of the Niners’ most significant players, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, receiver Deebo Samuel, cornerback Richard Sherman and running back Raheem Mostert combined to play in 37 of a possible 112 games (33%).

After the season, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan vowed to “look at everything” to try to get and stay healthier in 2021. That included an increased emphasis on durability among the draft class and in outside free agents they acquired.

“What I’ve learned with some of our luck here, especially last year … when too many of those add up, it’s hard to compete,” Shanahan said in May.

“And I think that hit us harder than anything last year. That hit us before COVID, and that’s something we can’t do again. So, we’re not saying that we’ll never take a risk again or anything, but we definitely wanted to make a point because of what’s happened the last couple of years, at least to try to avoid that.”

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San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa (ACL) expected to be ready for training camp

More than 80 of the players on the San Francisco 49ers’ 90-man roster participated in Tuesday’s organized team activity — but the most positive news of the day might have been about one of the few players who wasn’t there.

Defensive end Nick Bosa was not in attendance at the voluntary session as he works his way back from the torn left ACL he suffered on Sept. 20, 2020. But, after the roughly 75-minute OTA, coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that Bosa’s rehabilitation is going well and the expectation is that when training camp opens on July 31, Bosa will be a part of it.

“Nick’s in Florida,” Shanahan said. “I’ve been talking to Nick since February on this. He came out in February for a while to get checked up on his knee and stuff. With him coming off the ACL and everything, it’s going great. … He’s got a good setup out there with his brother and the guy who works with his knee. They’re in contact with our guys all the time and just didn’t want to take him off his routine right now. I totally agree with him out there. He’s going to show up at some time during this, but he won’t be going out there doing anything coming off the ACL, but we fully expect him to be ready for training camp.”

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Getting Bosa back at full strength would be a big development for a defense that dropped from fifth in sacks in 2019 (48) to 22nd last year (30).

Bosa suffered the torn ACL early in a Week 2 win versus the New York Jets. It was the first of a series of season-destroying injuries for the Niners, who slumped to 6-10 after winning the NFC championship the previous campaign.

The 49ers’ pass rush would also benefit from the return of another key edge rusher if Dee Ford is able to recover from his persistent back issues. Ford, who appeared in just one game in 2020, also didn’t participate Tuesday, but Shanahan said Ford had been at the team’s facility since February and has made progress.

“Everyone knows the sensitivity of his injury with his back and stuff, but he’s been putting in a lot of work here and we feel it’s going the right direction,” Shanahan said.

“Last week, we sent him home because he had been here so long, to go back to his hometown, see his doctor and plan on coming back here in the next couple of weeks. But don’t expect to see him till training camp on the field.”

Also not participating Tuesday was running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who recently had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, a league source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report. Wilson is expected to miss four to six months.

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San Francisco 49ers signing Josh Rosen to back up C.J. Beathard

Whether or not he wanted to make a modification at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has no choice but to turn to third-stringer C.J. Beathard for Saturday’s game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

That’s because Beathard is the only healthy quarterback on the active roster. Desperate for a quarterback to back him up, the 49ers are signing Josh Rosen off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Beathard’s return to the starting lineup comes almost a year to the day after his brother Clayton was stabbed to death outside a bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

“To go through what he did last year and then to go right into quarantine and to come right to us with the season, I know it’s been a huge challenge for him,” Shanahan said. “And I’m excited he’s going to get an opportunity this week. I have got as much respect for C.J. as anyone I’ve ever been with as a person and as a player, and it’s going to be fun working with him this week.”

Shanahan stated Tuesday that quarterback Nick Mullens is dealing with a right elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery and will cost him the final two games of the campaign. Team doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down in Mullens’ elbow before determining the severity of the injury and what surgery will be required.

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Complicating matters was Tuesday’s news that practice squad quarterback Josh Johnson has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with a source telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he tested positive for the virus.

That means he can’t be activated in time for Saturday’s game.

And while the Niners opened the 21-day practice window for starter Jimmy Garoppolo to return from the high ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve, it’s unlikely that Garoppolo will play in either of the final two matches.

“Right now, he’s safe to go out to practice, which we’re only having a walk-through today, but it will be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to be very safe with him this week. We’ll see next week, but I’d be very surprised if that changes.”

Because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols that require players to go through a six-day testing period before they can be activated, the Niners can’t sign a quarterback off the street, leaving them with just the option of signing a quarterback off another team’s practice squad.

Rosen was taken by the Cardinals with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft and traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2019 as Arizona selected Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

The Dolphins released Rosen in September and he was later signed by the Bucs for their practice squad. Rosen has made 16 career starts and appeared in 20 regular-season games overall, throwing for 2,845 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 54.8% of his pass attempts.

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49ers QB Nick Mullens at QB for injured Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Friday what he’s hinted at all week: Nick Mullens will start at quarterback in substitution of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday versus the New York Giants.

Shanahan stated Wednesday that Mullens would “most likely” start in place of Garoppolo, who is dealing with a high right ankle sprain, but he made it official Friday on KNBR radio in San Francisco. Shanahan told “The Murph and Mac Show” that Mullens will start for Garoppolo and that Garoppolo will not be active for the game, leaving C.J. Beathard as Mullens’ backup.

Mullens will be making his first start since Dec. 30, 2018, which was the final appearance in an eight-game stretch for him as the starter after Garoppolo tore his left ACL in Week 3 of that campaign. He threw for 2,277 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and had a passer rating of 90.8 as the Niners went 3-5 in his starts.

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Early in the week, the Niners had expressed some positivity that Garoppolo could play, but it became apparent by Wednesday that it was unlikely. Garoppolo suffered the ankle injury in the first quarter of last week’s win versus the New York Jets and played through it before being removed from the game at halftime.

Mullens ended the game, going 8-of-11 for 71 yards with an interception as the 49ers rolled to a 31-13 win.

During training at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, this week, Mullens has taken on the role of starter in practice, with Beathard as the backup.

Garoppolo did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is not expected to on Friday.

“He’s locked in,” tight end George Kittle stated Thursday about Mullens. “He’s got the game plan down, he’s got a rocket for an arm, he’s slinging it, he’s confident. And I know he’s just excited to get the opportunity to play. If he gets to play, I know he’s going to take advantage of that situation because that dude loves football.

He’s going to give it his all, so we’re definitely in good hands if Jimmy can’t go.” “I’m very confident in Jet,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “He’s done a great job in all the reps that he’s gotten in these two weeks.

Every time he’s gotten opportunities, he came through for us. Obviously, with those two guys being out, he should get more opportunities this week and he deserves it. I know he’s excited for it and we’re excited to see him.”

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49ers reward coach Kyle Shanahan with new 6 year deal

San Francisco is compensating head coach Kyle Shanahan with a new six-year contract that replaces the three years he had remaining on his deal and ties him to the 49ers through the 2025 season, league sources told ESPN.

The contract makes Shanahan one of the NFL’s five highest-paid head coaches. But what made this deal unique is that it was hardly a protracted negotiation between 49ers owner Jed York and Shanahan; the two men sat down and quickly figured out what each meant to the other, committing to their second six-year contract in just over three years.

Shanahan signed his first six-year contract with the 49ers in February 2017. This new six-year deal, completed recently, replaces that one. Shanahan has helped remake the franchise, leading it to an NFC championship last season. He is regarded as one of the best playcallers in the league and one of the top offensive minds in the game.

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Offensively, San Francisco averaged 29.9 points a game under Shanahan in 2019, which ranked second in the NFL.

On the defensive side of the ball, they were second in the league in points allowed at just 19.4 points per match.

Shanahan also has helped form one of the most progressive and diverse coaching staffs in the league. Of the 49ers’ 23 assistant coaches, 11 are coaches of color or women. Among them are assistant head coach Jon Embree, who is black, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, believed to be the league’s first Arab American coordinator when San Francisco signed him in 2017.

Shanahan spoke openly and passionately about race earlier this month, saying it is embarrassing for the NFL to have only three black head coaches and two black general managers. Shanahan, 40, is a former offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

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