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Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan on impact of no preseason, area where Jets may be tougher than Cardinals

Sep 18, 2020 at 9:48 AM--

There was some talk after the Arizona Cardinals pulled off the upset victory over the defending NFC champions at Levi's Stadium that the San Francisco 49ers may have been rusty. There's no doubt that the team was banged up entering the contest. It entered the game without two receivers who figure to be key contributors this season and its starting and backup centers out of the lineup.

Then the 49ers' All-Pro tight end, George Kittle, suffered an injury midway through the contest. Although, he kept playing because ... well, he's George Kittle.

But did the lack of a preseason impact the 49ers' performance during Week 1? Maybe. But it's probably not the only thing that affected the team on Sunday. It is worth noting that every NFL team was on equal footing when it came to preparing for the season.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR on Friday and was asked if he felt that the lack of preseason and in-game snaps before Week 1 contributed to his team's struggles.

"Personally, I don't think so at all," the coach responded on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show.

Shanahan feels the real culprit was the lack of a real offseason program, including OTAs and minicamps. The lack of practice reps for six months probably had more impact than the absence of four preseason games.

"You miss OTAs ... and then you try to cram training camp into just a few weeks, and not everyone can go for those few weeks because you get little nicks from camp and stuff," Shanahan continued. "So yeah, guys wish they had more practice, and wish they had more plays, but by no means is anyone out of shape or anything like that. It just comes down to execution.

"The more you rep things, the more you do stuff, the better you get at things. When you're just off a little bit, and so is the other team, but who's off the most? The team that's off the most is usually the team that loses right now. It's not always the team that did the best. It's the team that didn't mess it up the most."

San Francisco has put the loss behind it and is focused on Week 2's opponent. Shanahan isn't expecting anything to come easy against the lowly New York Jets. In fact, there is one area where he feels like the Jets may prove to be a more challenging opponent than the Cardinals: creating more space for the 49ers' rushing attack.

"It's probably going to be a little bit harder versus the Jets," Shanahan admitted. "I mean, they were the No. 2 run defense in the league last year, and they did that playing with a lot of Tampa 2. When you do a lot of Tampa 2, there might be space for four yards, but then there's two unblocked safeties showing up. And sometimes you've got the cloud corners who are sometimes hard to deal with. So it will be more of a challenge this week."

Shanahan felt the 49ers actually ran the football better on Sunday than the team did in its two contests against the Cardinals last season. He is correct. San Francisco averaged 4.92 yards per run against Arizona during Week 1. The team averaged 2.7 yards per carry against the Cardinals in 2019.

"Last year against them was our two worst run games," Shanahan said.

The coach feels the lack of production had more to do with the offense's inability to convert third downs rather than its lack of a strong rushing attack.

"You've got to move the chains on third down if you want to see something develop," Shanahan added. "If not, it's just, did you get explosives? And that's kind of what happened to us there."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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