“Because the Niners use Zoom technology to record and stream meetings, coaches can mute their feeds if they choose. Running backs coach Bobby Turner, a Shanahan staffer since 1996, said he turns the audio off any time he needs to have a personal conversation with a player.
Foerster said he forgets about the cameras. In Washington, he sometimes wouldn’t remember to turn the audio back on, and Mike’s assistant would come to his office and remind him. Every now and then, his current 49ers linemen will respond to a question by looking up at the camera and pointing at it, a sign for the coach to click the microphone icon and mute the feed.
He thinks the system actually makes players more comfortable because it eliminates the need for Kyle to be in the room with them. “Oftentimes the head coach walks in a meeting room and everybody changes,” Foerster said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And you don’t ask as many questions.”
“Sneed has been keeping opponents from making big plays all season. He did not allow a touchdown in the regular season. The first score he allowed came in the divisional round against Buffalo. He’s been phenomenal against top receivers, allowing Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson to make just three catches for 28 yards, and he held Tyreek Hill to exactly 62 yards in each of the two games against the Dolphins this season. He’s made a case that he might be the best cornerback in football.
The man who recovered that fumble by Flowers in the end zone was Kansas City’s slot corner Trent McDuffie, whom Kansas City drafted in the first round in 2022 (and he was named a first-team All-Pro this season). His rapid development, particularly as a run defender, has allowed the Chiefs to play well from nickel defense packages.
But it’s not just stars in the starting lineup. Kansas City’s depth is what sets it apart. Their backup cornerbacks include second-year corners Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams, who are both between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, putting them above the 90th percentile in height among cornerbacks. They are tall, and they can run, and they were able to handle one-on-one matchups in a way that gave Lamar Jackson fits.”
“That’s how [Tom] Brady was known when he was younger. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest game managers of all time,” Breer explained. “If you look at the way [Patrick Mahomes] played in the [Baltimore] Ravens game, there was a sack he took in the fourth quarter that kept the clock moving – that was game management. So, I don’t view it as the insult other people do. And I’ve seen before where players can keep growing. I think my deal with Brock is self-awareness, a really important piece of where he goes.”
Additionally, Breer knows first-hand how much 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan values Purdy. While Shanahan stuck up for Purdy on draft day, one of the coach’s friends went further into detail in a conversation with Breer.
“And I know this: a really close coaching friend of Kyle [Shanahan] said to me, ‘I can tell by how he calls plays for him that he loves him. He is more aggressive with him, the offensive is more dynamic with him. I’m telling you, I can tell how much Kyle likes Brock based on the playcalling. I took it to Kyle, and he said, ‘That’s exactly right.’”
“Everybody knows it’s not just another game, but it is a game once you get all the media off the field and the national anthem stops playing and they blow the whistle,” Griese said. “It’s the game that you know, the game that you love and wanted to play as a kid. As soon as he can snap into that, the better.”
“I’m not going to lie, it was going pretty fast,” Purdy said. “It was my first NFL action. I’m dropping back and, for me, I don’t know if (All-Pro defensive tackle) Chris Jones was in, but I’m like, ‘Chris Jones is here.’ (Pro Bowl pass rusher) Frank Clark off the edge. So my mind was racing pretty fast. I was trying to get through reads pretty quickly and I did feel rushed.”
After the 49ers began their possession at their own 15-yard line, Purdy’s first career pass was a long completion to wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.
“Backup quarterback Brock Purdy is in the game now,’ Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt said on the telecast. “So Purdy gets a chance for San Francisco and his first NFL pass is a completion for 20 yards.”
Purdy drove the 49ers to the Chiefs’ 18-yard line with 1:37 left before he sailed a pass to wide receiver Jauan Jennings that safety Juan Thornhill intercepted in the end zone. Purdy completed 4 of 9 passes for 66 yards.”
“Williams’ lockers are a hub of social activity. Among the regular visitors are defensive linemen, who gather for post-practice sessions in which Williams often offers pass-rushing tips from an offensive tackle’s perspective.
“Trent’s a favorite of these guys,” Lynch said, “because he is one of the guys.”
Williams is also a guy with a lot of stuff. His overflowing lockers include more than 40 hangers, most of which are attached to practice jerseys, opponent jerseys acquired from postgame swaps, team-issued sweatshirts and street clothes.”
“None of this means the 49ers, who have the NFL’s most advanced offensive strategist (Shanahan) as a head coach and boast some of the league’s best players, can’t raise their play and summon a premium performance on Super Sunday. However, let’s not delude ourselves. The Niners are a very good team, but they have weaknesses that can’t be ignored.
Defensive end Chase Young, for all his splash-play potential, has been a liability in terms of setting the edge, pursuit and tackling; the Niners clearly miss the injured and uncelebrated Clelin Ferrell on the defensive line. San Francisco has strong starting cornerbacks in Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir, but everything beyond that has been an adventure — and, the Niners, like most NFL teams, play five or more defensive backs on a majority of snaps. Tackling and pursuit have been a team-wide issue at various points of the season, including recently. And for all the 49ers’ stars on offense — including an all-time great left tackle in Trent Williams — the rest of their offensive line is far from dominant, and some opponents have been able to exploit right tackle Colton McKivitz.”
“He’d played at a small high school just east of downtown Los Angeles that made scrappiness its calling card and took on the hyena as an unofficial mascot. Lenoir liked the imagery, too, not only because hyenas are, in his words, “sneaky-quick” but because adopting one as a symbol was so unique. Who embraces a scavenger? Lenoir even said that if the 49ers win on Sunday, he’ll get a tattoo on his right shoulder of a hyena holding the Lombardi Trophy.
Which is to say, he’d prided himself on his tenacity and hustle, and now the head coach was questioning those very qualities. In front of the entire team.
Lenoir may have even been in denial when Shanahan called his name because at first he didn’t think he was talking about him. Shanahan had used his nickname, “Demo,” and Lenoir thought he heard “Deebo,” as in receiver Deebo Samuel, who happened to be sitting right in front of him. Lenoir said he kept waiting for Samuel to stand up and take a tongue lashing from the coach. Instead there was awkward silence until Samuel eventually piped up.
“He turned around and was like, ‘Say something!’” Lenoir said. “I was not even able to talk. I was surprised. I ain’t ever been called out in a team meeting before — not at Oregon, not even in high school.”
“The 49ers believe the two fields are too soft after grass was recently laid over the artificial-turf surface. They did have the option of sharing the Raiders’ facility, where the Chiefs are practicing before Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday. However, Shanahan said making the change wouldn’t be worth the complications.
“We’d have to go too early in the morning (and) mess everything up,” he said. “This is the best choice we’ve got.”
McCaffrey was unsure about his chances of making the 49ers’ roster. Center Bart Oates and his wife, Michelle, welcomed Ed, Lisa and their newborn son Max — the first of four McCaffrey boys, born in May 1994 — into their home so that the young couple wouldn’t have to buy or rent a house amid all that uncertainty.
McCaffrey ended up making the roster. He and Lisa experienced the entire season’s journey, from the early blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to the monumental NFC Championship Game win over the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl XXIX, a blowout victory for the 49ers over the San Diego Chargers.
“I remember that team feeling like it was a family,” Lisa McCaffrey said. “Everyone liked each other. They were kind to each other. There were team dinners that included all the wives. Even us — Ed was low man on the totem pole behind Jerry Rice. He barely sniffed the field, but they treated everybody really, really well — like they do now. I had never been part of an NFL team that was as warm and kind and open.”