Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Saleh shares Kyle Shanahan’s most underrated trait and how it helps the 49ers

Jan 23, 2020 at 2:52 PM--

If there was one thing general manager John Lynch wasn't sure about head coach Kyle Shanahan when the two joined the San Francisco 49ers, it was what kind of leader Shanahan would end up being. Lynch's concerns evaporated as soon as he saw the way the head coach spoke to and interacted with his players.

Three years after helping guide the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl, Shanahan has his 49ers in the big game. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was asked before Thursday's practice — as the team prepares to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV — what he expected from Shanahan and what his first impressions were upon his arrival in 2017.

"I would say I expected a very sharp offensive mind," Garoppolo responded, "because I never met Kyle prior to that, other than Combine and things like that. But, just from hearsay around the league, just a smart guy who, he commands the room. He could lead men and just offensive mind like no other.

"So, there was no surprises with that. That all held true. And just the way that he could lead, it's incredible. He does it in different ways, on the field, in the meeting room, the team meeting, all that stuff, it just goes a long way."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked how his head coach has grown during his time with the 49ers. Instead of rattling off the traits that people always hear about Shanahan, like his preparation, brilliant play-calling, relatability, or even his leadership, Saleh provided an interesting response.

"The most underrated thing that I think is misunderstood about Kyle is his humility to know when he doesn't have the answer," Saleh said. "A lot of people might look at Kyle as somebody who is, 'This is my way, it's, I already know. You don't need to tell me.' But when you actually sit down and talk with him, if you can present a case, he just wants answers that are right for the organization.

"He's not looking to force his opinion just because it's his opinion. So, he's got a tremendous amount of humility to be able to listen to everyone's opinion so that the right decisions are made for the organization so it can continue to move forward. So, the combination of him and John's (Lynch) humility, I really, really believe is why this organization is where it is today."

There was a video that circulated via social media this week that shows Shanahan predicting a pass interference penalty on a play against the Packers before the football was even snapped. He told an official, and sure enough, it played out exactly how the coach had predicted, and flags were thrown.

Said Garoppolo: "He always, throughout the week, whether it's situationally, this specific play, or whatever it is, I don't know if you call it predicting or giving you a heads up of what he thinks is going to happen. And when it does happen, it's very impressive. As a player, when a coach does that, you can trust him so much with that. It's invaluable."

In 10 days, the 49ers will face the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The team will hold one more full practice on Friday before boarding a plane for Miami on Sunday.

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