[Gary] [Gary] SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Kyle Shanahan admitted to the guys in the room on Saturday that the story he was going to tell, based on what a Navy SEAL had relayed to him, wasn’t PG. But football’s a game played in dark places, and this one worked for his (ers.) [Gary] The soldier was explaining combat, and he emphasized that finishing the job might mean drowning an enemy who was scratching and clawing and fighting for his life. It meant, in the soldier’s words, beating back until all remaining resistance was gone.
Because of the nature of the story, the San Francisco players who heard it hesitated to go into detail on it. But they understood what Shanahan was trying to get across loud and clear — even if people on the outside might find it weird.
The (ers raced to a 33 – 0 lead, putting the Packers in a hole early. As Shanahan’s story foretold, a proud Green Bay team did do all it could claw back into the game. But ultimately, San Francisco’s focus prevailed, with a 17 – play fourth quarter drive ending the Packers’ season.
“Kyle definitely hit home last night, that was one of the coolest things,” right tackle Mike McGlinchey said in a quiet moment postgame. “I remember walking out of that meeting last night being like,‘ Holy s —, I got the coolest coach of all-time. We’re gonna win, there’s no doubt about it. ’That’s what’s cool about it. It was a mindset thing just to never relinquish what’s going on in the football game, it was about how things are going to happen.
Even cooler for the guys in that locker room? They’re headed to Miami now as the NFC champions. And they’re doing it behind a coach who’s pushing all the right buttons.
[Leonard] [at LSU]
• To Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes proved resourceful and resilient. Again.
• To Carolina, where Joe Brady has been handed the keys to the Panthers’ offense.
• To the coaching carousel, where opportunities were scarce.
• To the past, where we find a fun Antonio Gates / Nick Saban story.
Nineteen of Shanahan’s play calls following the second Mostert touchdown were runs. At one point, Garoppolo went 30 game minutes without throwing a pass. During that time, the ers got the lead all the way to – 7.
“Training camp,” argued Richard Sherman, who has an idea what a championship team looks like. “I’m telling you. I did an interview with [NFL Network’s] MJ Acosta and just was telling her, ‘Tell the fans, be calm. It’s gonna be a great season, we’re gonna win a lot of games. ’It was going to be special but you gotta be humble, you know what I mean? You don’t want to be cocky and arrogant, nobody’s gonna believe it. We’re gonna just run it off.
[Burrow’s tape] “When you see the kind of scheme Kyle draws up, you see that it’s not about what the outside world considers talent. It’s about having the perfect people for the scheme. ”
Another coach added another perspective, saying he was first (really) convinced after the Niners went into LA and knocked off the Rams at home. But to this conversation, the point that Sherman made matters more. Shanahan and GM John Lynch haven’t just been collecting talent, although they do have a lot of that.
They’ve been building a roster for their offense, their defense and their special teams, and Mostert fit for one reason: speed. He and every other back on the roster runs in the 4.4s or lower, because that’s what the offensive coaches want in their backs: guys who can explode into seams in an offense that creates them
Which is true, but it does not change the fact that knowing what they were looking for led them to a really good player. [Gary] “He was a young coach when he came here but he’d been coaching that system for years and years, ”Lynch explained in the hallway by the locker room. “So he was very specific in terms of what we were looking for in each position. Some of our profiles for what we’re looking for as we work together have evolved. So if we don’t pick Nick Bosa we’re really stupid, that was pretty obvious. But finding George Kittle in the fifth and Dre Greenlaw in the fifth and some of these moves?
“We’ve acquired a lot of guys on this roster late, free agents: Matt Breida, Kyle bringing Matt Person with him. I think that’s the synergy of the personality, really being unrelenting and saying exactly what are we looking for and always communicating. ”
It just so happened that on this Sunday, the adjustment the coach made wasn’t any sort of stroke of strategic genius. It was an adjustment to play to what the team’s strength was early in the game — and has been for much of the season. And it had nothing to do scheme. That the Niners only threw it eight times? As Shanahan sees it, that’s a reflection of the team’s mindset.
“[It’s a sign of] how much heart our guys have. Our guys just went so hard, ”Shanahan continued. “It’s not like we expected it to be like that, but the way they were coming off the ball, the lanes they were creating, how hard our backs were going — plus with how good the defense was playing. I mean, you can’t do that unless the whole team’s tied together, and the whole team allowed us to do that. ”
The part he may get less credit for is his ability to read his team and know what it needs. On this weekend, it was that speech about the Navy SEALs.
“I think the thing I’ve been most surprised with — with a young head coach, a guy who hadn’t been in that seat before — is leadership, leading the team,” said Lynch. “[Head coaches] gotta get up and talk in front of the team. They gotta deliver every day. And he’s unbelievable at that. I try to lean on him, give him my experience as a former player. He asks a lot. But you’ve got to deliver each and every day, and [Saturday] night was a great example. I mean, he just had me floored and the guys were just so captivated.
“I don’t want to go into what he said, but it was tremendous. It was a metaphor for what we were going to get out of the Packers. And it played true. ”
Last week after the Chiefs knocked the Texans out of the playoffs
with a series of offensive haymakers, I got a simple message from a high-ranking Kansas City staffer encapsulating the place that organization is in right now. “Insane,” he texted. “ The QB is from another planet. ” [Gary] It was an interesting thing to say, given that Patrick Mahomes showed his mortality at points this season. There was a two-game lull in October, with losses to the Colts and Texans. There was another in December, where the Chiefs kept winning without Mahomes looking like (Mahomes) . There was the dislocated kneecap , and the injuries to his offensive linemen as well as receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.
[Burrow’s tape] With 29 seconds left in the first half and the Chiefs facing second-and – at the Tennessee , Mahomes took a shotgun snap and stepped up to avoid Titans DE Harold Landry, then ran sideways toward the boundary, slipping past a diving Derick Roberson, then b eating Rashaan Evans around the corner. From there, he tightroped up the left sideline past DaQuan Jones, cut back, put his shoulder into Tremaine Brock’s chest, spun off him and dove over the goal line.
His willingness as a runner wound up looming large — it forced the Titans out of the man looks they leaned on early in the game. And Mahomes wound up carving up zone coverage from there. Despite the slow start, and faced with an early 17 – 0 deficit, the quarterback wound up with 500 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of (passing.) So the stats did come. But doing whatever it took defined what he did, even amid some late fireworks (his scrambling – yard touchdown heave to Sammy Watkins wasn’t bad.) [Gary] “I’ve always preached that ever since I left college,” said Mahomes. “Playing at Texas Tech, I put up a lot of stats but we didn’t win a lot of football games and so I knew going into the NFL, I was going to do whatever it took to just win games. I think this team — I think you can see it in every single player on this team. We don’t care if we win 20 – 7 or 42 – 31, we’re going to go out there and find a way to win the football game, whatever it takes. ”
As a result, they’ll get one more week to flash all of that again. And as meaningful as winning the Lamar Hunt Trophy was to that franchise, it’s a safe bet the next one would mean even more.
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