Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports



Kyle Shanahan failed to get his San Francisco 49ers offense into the end zone on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. He has a much more daunting task this weekend when he and his team travel north to the hostile environment of CenturyLink Field to face the Seattle Seahawks and their tough defense.

The 49ers have implemented a similar defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who spent three seasons as a defensive quality control coach in Seattle and then three seasons as the linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars under then-head coach Gus Bradley. Bradley was Seattle's defensive coordinator from 2009 through 2012.

Following Bradley's time in Seattle, Dan Quinn became the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks before becoming the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, where Shanahan served as the offensive coordinator.

Shanahan joined KNBR on Thursday night and discussed going up against Seattle's defense. He was asked if going up against Saleh's defense in practices makes game planning for Seattle any easier. His response to the question was lengthy yet insightful.

"It's gotten easier for myself over the years starting back to when Pete [Carroll] got there," Shanahan said. "I think I've played there every year, except for maybe one, with other teams. I played them last year twice in Atlanta. Practiced against Atlanta two years in a row which is even more exactly the same as Seattle than ours is. I understand the scheme very well. I think our players do going against it in practice every day.

"But a lot of that stuff is overrated. One thing that's good about the scheme is it's extremely sound and when you have a very sound scheme, there's not a bunch of secrets. It's not, 'Oh, I know this secret so you do this and this guy's going to be wide open.' That's why it works. It's sound. They make you work for everything.

"They're an eight-man front. They don't change very much. They zone drop. It's hard to get big plays down the field. You can come up and design something but it's probably only going to work if you can play them in a seven-on-seven league because it's going to take a while to develop and they're eventually going to get your quarterback.

"So, you've got to take what they give you to a degree but they will play their man coverages. You will sometimes have a couple of game plan plays that they haven't seen but they are going to be risky because they take time to develop. And when all the stars align, you've got to come down with them.

"What I mean by that -- you've got to call versus the right coverage which is usually easier versus Seattle because they don't do a ton of coverages. But when you do, you've still got to be able to look out for Earl Thomas who can cover more ground than anyone in the league. You've still got to block all those guys. Your receivers still got to beat their corners. And then you've got to make a throw.

"It's easier said than done. That's why they've had a lot of success over these years but you've just got to be ready to grind it out and play good ball against them and take it to them because there's no secret about it. You've got to play well. You've got to play tough and you've got to fight for everything."

You can listen to the entire interview with Shanahan below.