San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with the media following Friday's training camp practice. Two players who came up during the conversation were guard Laken Tomlinson and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

Shanahan discussed Tomlinson at great length and shared how impressed the coaching staff was with his development last season. The 49ers traded for the guard just before the start of the regular season last year and he went on to start 15 games. Tomlinson signed a three-year extension in June and is slated to be the team's starting left guard.

"We were so impressed with Laken last year because it was similar to Jimmy (Garoppolo) in terms of we traded for Laken," Shanahan said. "I want to say it was like seven days before our first game. He didn't start that first game, but he started that second game and every game after that.

"He was a very athletic lineman. We did like his skillset. He never really had played in this scheme where he really opened it up and ran. So it was totally opposite of what he had ever been asked to do. That's as hard for an O-lineman to make an adjustment, to really any position on our team.

"What he was able to do in Week 2, just to get in and play, and then how different he was in Week 8, then to how different he was in Week 16. He was a guy who – I mean, you're going to take coaching, the coaches are going to do it – but when you get thrown in that situation, you've got to really be able to figure it out on your own to a degree because there's not all the time like there is in the offseason.

"For Laken to improve that much throughout the year as an O-lineman in a totally different scheme than he's ever done was very encouraging to us. We saw the same thing throughout the offseason. We thought he had very good OTAs and that's why we were extremely excited to get him locked up here for a little bit."

Shanahan shared what went into the decision to trade for Tomlinson. The Detroit Lions drafted Tomlinson in 2015 while current 49ers senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew was the general manager there. He was a significant influence on the decision to acquire the guard when help was needed along the offensive line.

Shanahan also had an opportunity to evaluate Tomlinson during his time with the Atlanta Falcons.

"I had a very good idea of him athletically," Shanahan said. "Then when you know someone who's been in the building with him, who drafted him ... you get to know what kind of person he is, what he's like, what has happened there, and it gives you more confidence on what you're getting."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Thursday that second-year cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has developed from a "little scrawny corner that everyone said wouldn't hit anybody" during his rookie season to "a man" this year.

"It happened almost halfway through last year," Shanahan said. "We knew we drafted a big corner and I swear he looked twice as big halfway through the year out there. Then he started getting his confidence, especially when he got to play. Ahkello is a very smart person. He realized that he had the talent to do it. He got to go out there and feel it. I think Ahkello knows that he has a very high ceiling. When he knows that, he also doesn't mind working.

"He spent this offseason just possessed, honing his craft. He works as hard as anyone. He's very intelligent. He wants to think everything through, so he's always asking questions. I think [Richard Sherman] has helped him a lot, just to pick his brain too.

"He's going for it, and he's making sure that he's going to be the best he can."

Shanahan acknowledged that Sherman and Witherspoon have very different personalities. One common trait, however, is that both want to know the reasoning behind what they are doing. Sherman's experience in the NFL has given Witherspoon yet another resource for information in addition to the 49ers coaching staff.