San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about how he and the team are emotionally dealing with the temporary move to Arizona. Shanahan noted how NBA players struggled with mental issues when they were isolated in the bubble. The team will be away from their family for at least a month, and maybe more. Shanahan gave a long-winded answer:
“I’m all right. You can get through anything when you know the time of it. Three weeks, four weeks, whatever it is, we’ll be all right. It’s not the end of the world. I’m not trying to talk about all this stuff for every week. It was just more the disappointment of people got to make decisions. Everyone’s got their job to do, and that’s not my profession. You guys know what mine is and what I feel I’m good at. I just like communication. That’s all, and how people treat each other, most human beings.
So, that’s what we were disappointed with and we’ve got to deal with the situation, just like a lot of people are dealing with stuff, not just the Niners, I mean all over football. I know we’re the only ones who’ve had to move, but all over the country. So, everyone’s got to deal with stuff. You don’t want to sit here and be ‘woe is me.’ There’s just a way to do it and that’s what we were bothered with. You adjust, you see what you’ve got to deal with and you move on. I know everyone’s dealing with their own little things.
Now’s the easy part, just because we got here on a workday and we’re going hard all the way until our game on Monday. So, it’s more of the times after that and things I just try to stress to people is everyone’s going to be at different levels and some people are going to deal with this different than others. Someone who hits that wall, whatever it is, you read about the NBA players in the bubble and all the mental issues they went through and stuff.
Those guys were at least allowed to hang with each other. We’re not, so we’re basically just in rooms here. Haven’t seen the guys except when we Zoom meet them and then when we go out to the field for walkthrough, so it’s not like we’re in a bubble hanging out. So, those things will build up on guys and each guy will handle it differently.
So, I just try to tell everyone, no matter what, when someone has a problem, whatever it is, there’s no problem too big or too small. A lot of guys keep that stuff internally, but I met with a bunch of the players and I grabbed about 20 of them last night and just told them to look out for that stuff and make sure that whether they come to me, a position coach, we have lots of people here who aren’t coaches or players who can help people. So, it’s just understanding that it’s human nature.
Some stuff’s going to come up over the next three weeks and no one ignore it. Just always bring it to someone’s attention because the worst thing you could be in these situations is feel kind of alone on an island and we’ve got a big group going through it, so we can rally together and make sure we help each other through it.”
Shanahan has made it a point to tell the media that once the team is done with practice, they go back to their room. The next time they see each other is the following day at practice. For Kyle to acknowledge the potential that his players might struggle mentally during this transition says a lot about Shanahan, the person.
Too often, coaches at every level treat their players like objects and not humans. We see it all over the NFL, and that’s a big reason why coaches like Matt Patricia don’t stick around. It’s not how much you know. It’s how much your players know. You have to connect with them on a level outside of drawing up plays on the whiteboard or what they can do on the field.
By all accounts, Shanahan has and continues to do that with the 49ers. Mental health is an issue that is rarely brought up in the sports field because we only see what these players make and assume they’re OK because they make a lot of money. That’s not how real life works, and it’s refreshing to see Kyle care.