Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan shares George Kittle story while discussing player honesty regarding injuries

Jan 9, 2022 at 10:19 AM--

Kyle Shanahan has noticed many changes since transitioning from an offensive coordinator to the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. One that he maybe didn't expect to be so drastic is how honest his players are with him when it comes to injuries, even when he hopes for complete honesty.

Shanahan is one of the team's top decision-makers. That means his players look to impress him with their toughness. In their minds, that means pushing through certain injuries to be available.

Shanahan joined KNBR this week and was asked to estimate what percentage of his players are actually honest with him regarding the severity of their injuries. The answer was surprisingly low. As a head coach, Shanahan figures that only about five percent are completely honest. That number may be different for players relaying information to the rest of his staff, though.

"As a head coach, it's different," Shanahan said on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "It used to be a little easier when I was a position coach. It got harder as a coordinator. It gets much harder as a head coach. I think it gets a little bit easier, maybe, with some guys that I've been around with for almost all five years and things like that."

Then, Shanahan used one of his star players as an example—tight end George Kittle, who has fought through several injuries throughout his impressive career. Kittle dealt with hip and ankle injuries during his rookie 2017 season.

"I mean, you should have seen George when I brought him in his first year," Shanahan shared. "He was hurt all week, and the trainers told me they didn't think he could play, but he was telling everybody else he could play. But he would tell the trainers he didn't think he could play.

"Then I would bring him in to ask him if he could play, and he would just sit there, and I could tell he was just saying the exact same thing to me that his dad probably told him to say to his Pop Warner coach: 'Never tell a coach you're hurt!'

"And I'd be like, 'No, George, I get it. I appreciate it, dude, but hey, this is real talk. Can we have a real--' [before Kittle would interrupt, saying], 'No, Coach, I'm fine!' And then he's not, and he's out for like a month after it."

Kittle dealt with a hamstring injury leading to the start of his rookie season.

Added Shanahan: "So, you've got to know your personnel, know who you're dealing with, and they're all a little bit different."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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