Kyle Shanahan Considers His ‘Scars’ As 49ers Become Contenders

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Kyle Shanahan remembered.

Then again, how can he ever forget.

More importantly, the San Francisco 49ers coach showed Sunday that he might have learned something in the process of compiling what he called “scars” from past battles.

As most of the fans and other onlookers were letting their minds wander in the middle of the lopsided game, Shanahan thought back to a similar moment in a game with much bigger consequences.

He remembered being up 28-3 against Tom Brady in the second half of what ended up being the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history in February 2017. That loss, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, to New England is never far from his brain.

Kyle Shanahan has the 49ers thriving. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images).

It certainly wasn’t on Sunday when San Francisco was up 28-0 in the second half against Brady and Tampa Bay. After the game, Shanahan was asked about it, the reporter prefacing the question with “not to be a jerk, but the last time … “

“That’s not being a jerk, that’s just a fact,” Kyle Shanahan said, taking the issue head on. “Yeah, anytime that you’re up a lot, you go back to any scars that you have, so I do the math a lot. I know he came back on us when we were up 25 going into the fourth.

“I also know verse Detroit week one last year we were up 41-17 with 1:58 left and they had the ball 41-33 with 20 seconds left on the 25-yard line going into score, so I always do the math right to feel fully comfortable.”

Shanahan continued: “I thought the 41-17 one was kind of an anomaly, but I definitely didn’t feel good with Brady. I saw him do it to the Rams last year in the playoffs, so you always have to be careful with him.”

Shanahan Has Been 49ers Coach Since 2017

The important lesson may have been to do a better job of playing keep away. One of the biggest criticism Shanahan took from the loss to Brady and New England in the Super Bowl was his desire to throw when he didn’t have to.

Shanahan called for two passes the fourth quarter of that game that were viewed as unnecessary. The first led to a sack and strip of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan that set up a short field for New England.

The second resulted in another sack that took Atlanta out of field goal range late in the fourth quarter. Over the years, people have constantly asked Shanahan about those plays.

On Sunday, he left no room for such questions. Up 28-0 at halftime after throwing 18 passes in the first half with rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, the 49ers called for only five passes in the second half. Instead of taking any risk, they rode the running game for 209 yards on the day.

More importantly, they rode the running game with grind out the clock, finishing with 36 carries.

Written by Jason Cole

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.

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