Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Shanahan discusses the pros and cons of a 49ers-Seahawks matchup minus the fans

Oct 29, 2020 at 5:30 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers will travel to the Great Northwest for a divisional matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. That means going up against a potent offense in front of ... well ... in front of nobody.

There won't be fans in attendance, which makes the challenges of a road game against the Seahawks less daunting.

"The part of the game that's different is the snap count and everything," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show.

Shanahan had to get used to the strangeness of playing in NFL stadiums. Well before the start of the season, he knew it was coming. Amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, all signs pointed to no fans — or for some, few fans — on game days.

Still, nothing quite prepared him for playing a Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in an empty Levi's Stadium. It was a sharp contrast to the experience of playing in front of a reinvigorated fanbase last season.

"The energy of a stadium affects people big time," Shanahan explained. "Usually, it affects you great. Our guys, when they go into our stadium last year, it was so different. I can't tell you how weird the Arizona game felt. We tried to prepare for it. We tried to talk about it. But for us to be in that stadium for the first time since the NFC Championship Game -- I mean, that was as cool of a game as I've ever been in. And then for the next time we're in there, for it to be just dead empty except for these cardboard cutouts, it was weird."

Shanahan couldn't help but laugh while mentioning the cardboard cutouts, which are among the many bizarre things about this season. Last year's 49ers squad learned to feed off the crowd. It didn't matter if they were at home or on the road.

"That brings energy to people. They feed off it," Shanahan continued. "It inspires people. But an away crowd does that too sometimes to our guys. When you go into an environment, and you feel everyone there is out to get you, and you go in, it kind of amps you up to where you want to piss everybody off.

"It's cool to go into a building and just have 80,000 people just mad at you, and you just sit there and laugh at them, and get into your locker room on your own. It makes you a little bit tighter when it feels like the whole world is out against you."

Jimmy Garoppolo was asked on Thursday if he's excited to play the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field minus the 12th Man.

"Yeah, I definitely am," the quarterback responded. "I'll miss the atmosphere up there. It's one of the coolest places to play just with the fans and everything. But yeah, definitely with the cadence, the procedure, and all that stuff, it will definitely make it easier for us. So, looking forward to that."

In case there were any doubts, Shanahan agrees with Garoppolo, even if he finds a certain thrill in playing in the middle of a hostile crowd.

"But I never want [a loud crowd on the road] because it's an issue when you can't hear the snap count," Shanahan added. "So I always want to be at home feeling that energy, and also their team not hearing the snap count."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.






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