Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

‘We’ve got to finish the job’: Kyle Shanahan discusses the state of the 49ers

Jun 25, 2020 at 7:12 AM--

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, like his players and staff, is itching to get back to football. As good as the 2019 season was, it ended on a sour note. A heartbreaking note, to be more accurate.

The 49ers are motivated to climb back up that mountain and finish what they couldn't last season. This offseason has thrown its share of obstacles at the 49ers, though. A global pandemic has changed the way NFL teams conduct their offseason programs.

Players haven't even been allowed into NFL facilities. They won't be until training camp next month, at the earliest. OTAs and minicamps have been replaced with Zoom video conferences and dissecting every detail of every play of the offense.

Still, no one has been able to see how any of the increased virtual classroom work will translate onto the practice field.

"It's been weird with this quarantine, to be in the offseason because I still feel like 2020 just started," Shanahan told Greg Papa this week during the 49ers' State of the Franchise event. "But now, I'm sitting here, and I feel like we're a month away, and I can't wait to get started because it feels like we just left off, and I did not want to go through this offseason. I wanted to get right back to where we left off in February."

Shanahan wishes he could just jump into the postseason and guide his 49ers through their "Legendary Revenge Tour." Obviously, it will take some effort to get there again, especially with everyone targeting them more than ever.

"I know we've got to go through a season, and it's going to be a lot harder to do that," Shanahan continued. "A lot harder. And we can play a lot better and still not do what we did last time. That's why all of our guys have got to take this challenge, and we've got to take advantage of this offseason. We've got to still find a way to take a step ahead of other people because everyone's chasing us right now, and it hasn't been that way."

Whichever way you want to look at Super Bowl LIV — a few minutes, a call going San Francisco's way, an offensive play here or there, a defensive stop — the 49ers came up just short of hoisting the team's sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Still, the season was a drastic turnaround for a franchise that had struggled for years, even before Shanahan arrived. That continued in the coach's first two seasons with the team. Players never doubted the direction of the organization, though. They knew that Shanahan's 49ers were better than their record indicated, and they proved it last season.

"Even though we finished 6-10 and 4-12, we still felt like we were winners," Shanahan explained. "We felt like we were better than that record indicated, but we knew we had to prove it. Last year, we went out to prove that we were winners, and we could compete in every single game we were in, and we did that. And we did that as well as any team. In the games that we lost, we barely lost. And it felt like even though we lost a few, we could have won all those.

"To know that our goal is to compete in every game, and we actually did, and came up one to three plays short from a world championship, it's been hard to sit with all offseason.

"It's also something I'm very proud of, the state of the franchise, because we didn't luckily get there. We earned that. We earned that by doing it the right way. We earned that by playing very good football on offense, defense, and special teams. We did it with an entire team, an entire group."

Don't tell Shanahan that his 49ers were second to anyone last year — even in the Super Bowl. He truly believes his team was the best in the NFL and should have walked away from February's game as champions. He has said it before, and he repeated it.

"I mean, you look at the numbers across our whole team, with how we played offense, defense, ran the ball, and threw the ball, turnovers, everything with our whole team, it was as good of a football team as I've ever been a part of," Shanahan said. "I know we were good enough to win that Super Bowl, and we didn't. And that's something we've got to live with. And that's why the state of the franchise, right now, is we've got to get right back to that moment. We've got to get right back to that fourth quarter, and get to have a lead, and we've got to finish the job."

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