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Shanahan on the rookie classes abnormal offseason: It will have a huge effect on them

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NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Many believe undrafted rookies on every team will face an uphill battle to make the team this year as they weren’t afforded the usual exposures other UDFA’s were in years past San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about the disadvantage some of the players would face:

Are you concerned that your rookie class won’t be as ready or as far along on September 13 as they would have been in a normal year? Can you do extra work with them now during the classroom sessions to sort of at least attempt to bridge that gap?

“Yeah, it will definitely have a huge effect on them. It’ll affect each guy a little differently depending on what their makeup is, but we’re over meeting. We don’t have a lot to do. I can’t go to a restaurant, can’t go anywhere. Our position coaches are the same thing. Rookies, we’re allowed to meet with more than just eight to 12. Those guys have gotten more meeting hours than are possible. I mean, you only can get so much, but it gets to a certain time where, yeah, they can almost coach the route because that’s what we’re doing, but then they’ve got to go apply it on the field. We need to see them do that. We need to film it. We need to come back in and watch how they move.

‘I’m articulating it this way, but obviously you’re running it this way, so you’re hearing it different.’ That’s just coaching and that’s what we’re working through and our rookies don’t get any of that. So, they might think they have it and they’re going to get to camp and they’re not even close.

The problem is, you usually work that stuff out in OTAs and stuff, and then the rookies get away for 40 days and they have a chance, when they come back to training camp, to make the team. Where I’m still worried about guys now is how do you make the team in training camp when you’re on the bubble and it’s going to take you three weeks to figure it out? Well, you only have one week left and now earn it. So, those are the guys that I worry about a lot more, but this is how it used to be with quarters, the quarter system. We didn’t get [DL] Solomon [Thomas] and [WR] Kendrick Bourne our first year until training camp. They were allowed to come to a minicamps, so they got two days of practice, but that was it.

It always sets guys back and then some guys, just the way they think, the way they learn, the way they work, doesn’t affect at all. Very few of them, but that’s what we’ll find out what our guys when we get to camp.”

Kyle doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal that the 49ers won’t be able to return to their facilities since the players can’t join:

I just wanted to follow up on the report this morning that the coaches are being allowed back into facilities around the league and you guys seem to be the only team that aren’t. I know that’s kind of out of your control, but what are your feelings on not being allowed back when other coaches are? Do you feel like it puts you at any sort of disadvantage and how are you kind of working through that right now?

“I mean, it is what it is. I’m not too upset about it. Yeah, you want every advantage possible, but our county is not there yet and it doesn’t bother me that much because I do understand. Plus, the players aren’t allowed in. Us coaches, we can meet like we’re doing right now on zoom. We can go to the office and do it also. So, it doesn’t bother me if coaches want to go up to the office right now and get some stuff done because we haven’t been there in 90 days. That’s all good, but the players aren’t there. So, you’re not getting a big advantage. Nothing that we can’t do on zoom meetings. So, I would feel differently if other players were allowed in the building in other places. That would be a huge disadvantage for us, but until guys can start working with players, it doesn’t bother me.”

Shanahan said the team has been more productive than usual in Zoom meetings as he can go through more plays. He used the example of being able to go more in-depth with no time limits. Instead of having to rush and get through ten plays in an hour and a half, Kyle said he and the team could go through one play and the ‘60 different ways with all the variations of it’ in that time frame. He cited how that not a lot of information will resonate when you’re going through ten plays. In that sense, the Zoom calls have been beneficial, said Shanahan.