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Kyle Shanahan handling of NaVorro Bowman, Vance McDonald provide optimism

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The 49ers have dealt with some rumors and competitions. Kyle Shanahan seems to be handling things quite well.

The San Francisco 49ers are overhauling a 2-14 team, and roster turnover is well underway. It is not surprising in turn that we have heard rumors about some notable veterans potentially being on the trade block. During the draft, there were rumors Vance McDonald was being shopped, and after the draft, there was a rumor that NaVorro Bowman was being shopped.

The 49ers acknowledged during the draft that they had talked with teams about McDonald, but nothing came to fruition. The same day the Bowman rumor was floated, the 49ers were quick to issue a statement denying it.

In both instances Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have communicated with the players to make sure they’re on the same page. Shanahan mentioned during the draft that he had called McDonald and left him a message while the latter was at a wedding. On Tuesday, McDonald told beat writer Eric Branch about the follow-up. The tight end understood that a 2-14 team needs plenty of improvement. He understood the process and appreciated the communication

“If you’re a 2-14 team, there’s a lot of things you can improve on,” McDonald said. “… So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is going to be see what it requires for the trade. And you’re going to call around to every other team. So that’s exactly what happened for me. It wasn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

“He’s been in a draft room for 48 hours at that point,” McDonald said. “I’m sure he was worn out and he’s calling me on his way home. The first thing I told him was ‘Man, there’s not a lot of coaches that would do this.’”

John Lynch handled discussions with NaVorro Bowman about the trade rumor. Shanahan expected to also speak with Bowman, but the latter was comfortable with things once he had his chat with Lynch.

However, Shanahan did speak with Bowman after the 49ers drafted Reuben Foster last month. On Tuesday, someone asked Shanahan if he and/or Lynch had spoken with Bowman to explain the competition situation. Shanahan said Bowman was comfortable with where things stood and didn’t think an extensive discussion was necessary.

“You never know how a player is going to react to that especially when you have someone who has had a ton of success in his career. I remember after we drafted Rueben, out of respect to Bo, I gave him a call that night and asked him to come in and talk to me. Bo was like, ‘Coach, I’m good. I’m out golfing and it’s no problem. I’ll see you at work.’ He ended up coming in. Bo got it. He wasn’t too worried about it, so he made it very easy. Sometimes guys do and you want to explain to them really exactly what I just explained to you guys. But, you never know until you do it. The way Bo has handled it, I think it will bring out the best in him. He’s going for it as hard as anyone I’ve seen. He started doing that before we got here, or actually before we were allowed to work with them. Just him coming out on his own and working with [vice president of medical services/head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] Ferg and [head strength and conditioning coach] Ray [Wright] and then right when phase one started he was ahead of schedule and I think that’s why he’s getting the results right now that a lot of people normally don’t get six months or whatever it is after his Achilles.”

These are not overly complicated discussions to have when you’re up front about how you plan on handling things. However, they are both noteworthy given some of the speculation about Shanahan’s reputation. There were reports in previous jobs that he was not the easiest guy to get along with. I spoke with our Falcons blogger and she mentioned how there were some issues with his handling of players his first year, but that he appeared to clear some of that up in year two.

Two years ago, Shanahan was part of rumors with his father Mike when the 49ers were looking for someone to replace Jim Tomsula. I spoke with our Washington blogger at that point about Shanahan’s time there. He had heard rumors about some people not liking Kyle.

Whatever the full extent of his relationships in the past, Shanahan seems to be off to a strong start in handling his roles as a head coach. As OC, he developed the offense and was able to focus exclusively on that. As head coach, there is so much more involved in people management. He was seen making his way around to the defensive side of things and just generally getting in time with a multitude of players and position groups.

Kyle Shanahan was hired in part because he would hopefully be able to overhaul an offense that has gone nowhere for some time now. However, there is plenty more on his plate as a head coach. The team has yet to play a down of football, but these kinds of reports provide optimism about the direction of the football operation.