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Kyle Shanahan: 49ers’ energy at all-time high ahead of Jaguars game

Marc Adams
Nov 11, 2023 at 10:41 AM--

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The San Francisco 49ers are in Jacksonville for Sunday's showdown with the Jaguars and will have some new looks for the game, including a new player on defense (Chase Young), a new location for Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks (the sideline), and a newly found energy. The 49ers, of course, are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. In all three games, the 49ers were favored to win.

Kyle Shanahan sat down with Greg Papa on NBC Sports Bay Area's "49ers Game Plan." To say the bye week came at the right time for the 49ers would be an understatement. Not only did the 49ers need to break away from losing three straight, but they also had some injuries starting to pile up. Deebo Samuel had missed two and a half games. Trent Williams had missed the last two. Dre Greenlaw was struggling physically, and others needed some rest and recovery, as well. Samuel and Greenlaw will play on Sunday, while Williams is listed as questionable.

Shanahan said when he watched the tape from the Cincinnati game, he could tell the 49ers lacked energy. "I mean, those three games there, were some tough ones," Shanahan said. "You know, I know we didn't play our best, but I really thought watching the Cincy game on that short week from that Monday night game, the two East Coast trips, you could see it on the silent tape and that's not a good thing. So getting some rest here really helped."

It's not going to get much easier, though. Shanahan added, "When Sunday comes, we're going to have three more games in twelve days. So we got to get through all three of those. And then hopefully that three-day rest after that Thursday night game will get us back into the groove for that Tuesday and we'll be ready to roll the rest of the year."

Shanahan discussed some of the problems the 49ers have had during the three-game skid, saying there were things they got away with during the 5-0 start that caught up to them the past three games, including some issues with the defense. Shanahan admitted that the Cincinnati game was the worst his team has played this season, saying, "I didn't think it looked like us. I thought the quarterback [Joe Borrow] was comfortable the whole game."

The 49ers coach admitted that the team will have their hands full this week with a good Jacksonville team, saying that QB Trevor Lawrence has all the physical tools to be a threat, including a great arm, size, and ability to run with the ball. And when you add some offensive weapons to a quarterback like that, and you're playing against a defense that is good enough to keep the team in every game, it presents a challenge for the 49ers.

Asked what he wants to see from his pass rush and how the additions of Randy Gregory and Chase Young might help the defense, Shanahan answered, "I think we need to swarm better as a group. I think all four, we just need to rush as a group better. I think we've had some good individual rushing, whoever it is at that time. But the way that you get production in this league is when all four are doing it, whether you get the sack or not. You need them feeling all of those guys, and the quarterback moving out of the way from one guy and then three other guys getting there. And when we have had that or we have had pressure, guys have got it off because I don't think we've had that second or third guy there that much. And by adding a group, you always want to rush by numbers.

"And when you can have more guys, they're fresher, you feel better rotating them. And that gets your guys just to go hard all game and be able to do that extra effort so he can't squeeze out of a tackle so they can't run forward. And once they start realizing there are four guys around, they get rid of it a lot quicker and they give up on a lot of stuff and sometimes they're not even there, but they think they're going to be there. And it kind of changes that whole rhythm of the game and I still think we've done it at a decent amount, but not like what we're used to, and hoping these two guys can help us and just bring our group up collectively as a whole."

Shanahan told Papa that losing three straight was strange, especially after winning so many in a row. "It was tough before we went on that bye week," Shanahan said. "We had lost three in a row, which winning 15 in a row before three losses in a row, it felt weird, it felt different. Anytime I've been in any building that loses three in a row, it's terrible. But it was a different feeling after how successful we had been right till that."

How will the 49ers respond to losing three straight? Shanahan believes he got his answer on Monday when the team came back together after the bye. He told Papa, "I knew we needed to get away for rest, but the cool thing was when we came back Monday. I didn't know how the guys were going to be. I was ready to go in and talk to them as a team, and it was one of the most easy team meetings I've ever had. Just the energy in the room, the feeling. I think guys were really pissed and disappointed about how things have gone, and I think they were pumped to be back at work on Monday. We had a great practice to start the week, the energy has been at an all-time high, and we just want to get to Sunday and go out there and play football."

Papa asked Shanahan what some of the keys are to beating perhaps the hottest team in the league right now. Shanahan said it all comes down to one main thing. "We don't turn it over and we get turnovers."

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