Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan shares thoughts on 17-game season

May 17, 2021 at 1:41 PM--

The NFL is moving to a 272-game regular season this year, which means each team will have 17 games on its schedule, one more from previous seasons. For the San Francisco 49ers, it will mean the addition of a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021.

Last year, during negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL players pushed to prevent the expansion of the regular season. However, they eventually gave in, giving the league the option to add to the schedules.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledges that the prevalent feeling around the league is that an added game for each team could be overwhelming. The season was too long as it was. However, the writing has been on the walls, so it didn't take anyone by surprise.

"I think for a few years now, we've all sensed that it's coming, so I've been expecting it eventually," Shanahan told Michael Irvin on the Hall of Fame wide receiver's podcast last week. "And now it's here, and I'm ready to see how it is."

The coach knows that each season presents its own unique challenges, and you never know how things will unfold. A team may be able to overcome some injuries, as the 49ers did in 2019. Injuries may also destroy a season, as it did for the Niners last year.

"There's times that I've been in Week 13, and I'm just like, 'How the hell are we going to get through this? We're dropping like flies,'" Shanahan continued. "And then I've also had times [where] you start out at the beginning of the year kind of banged up, going through all that stuff, then you kind of just get that callus. And you get to like Week 12, and now it seems like no one's getting hurt, and we can kind of play forever.

"And it has to do with how you're playing. If you're playing bad and guys are banged up, man, Week 9 is starting to get pretty rough."

Shanahan knows it is what it is. That was always the direction the NFL was heading. He hopes his squad can avoid another injury-plagued campaign and be playing for the postseason in the end. That can be a significant driving force for a team. One extra game may not matter for a team that is fighting to continue its season after Week 18.

"But you know the vibe of a team, and when you're playing for something, and when it's like that, you don't want it to end," Shanahan added. "And that's what was so hard about that Super Bowl. We knew how close it was. Everyone knows that. But it's only one game. It's not a seven-game series. And when that ends, it's just like, 'Wait, no, there's more.' And we've got to wait until next year. And then you go into quarantine, and that was torture.

"That's just football season, man, and you've got to go for it. There's going to be a lot of pressure on everyone, and you just go for it. Don't worry about people judging, don't worry what happens. Just live with the consequences and be happy that you kept it real and did it your hardest."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below. It begins at about the 26-minute mark.

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