Last week the 49ers/Cowboys game was the only match-up on Wild Card Weekend that didn’t feature a rematch from the regular season. However, this week, that will not be the case as the 49ers have to face the team that handed them their toughest loss of the season in September.
When Kyle Shanahan met the media on Monday, he was asked a pretty simple question. What’s different about this matchup as opposed to Week 3?
“I feel like we’re a different team now than we were then, as everybody is. I mean, you just start out the year and you go through a number of different players. But football is not much different, both teams, schematically, plays you’re running, concepts you’re running, the coverages they’re doing. There’s some little different wrinkles when you watch teams at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year, but most of the stuff stays the same. It’s just nice to see when a team’s executing better. When you feel like guys are practicing, playing better together as a unit. And I think we’re in a better spot now than we were at that time.”
While their core philosophies certainly haven’t changed since Week 3, clearly, the 49ers are a different team than they were four months ago. Elijah Mitchell is back. Dre Greenlaw is back. Brandon Aiyuk is fully integrated into the offense. And, oh yeah, that Deebo Samuel guy is getting carries in the backfield. Including that Green Bay game, Samuel had just 4 carries on the year for 8 yards to that point. Since he started getting regular looks like a running back in Week 10, Deebo has never had fewer than five carries in a game.
Speaking of Week 3, there were reports of tension between LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan going into that game due to the 49ers’ offseason interest in Aaron Rodgers. Those reports seemed justified when the two shared a curt handshake on the field after the game. Yesterday Kyle was asked about that and put it to rest — at least until Saturday.
“No, Matt’s my guy. Matt and I are totally good. I was pissed after that game because of how that game just ended. That was a tough one. It took a while to get over, but we’re good. I talk to Matt a lot. He’s done a hell of a job this year. I’ve been real happy for him, but that stops this week.”
Hear more from Kyle Shanahan, as well as get the latest injury updates in today’s 49ers in Five podcast, which drops every weekday morning wherever you get your podcasts.