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By all accounts, the 49ers locker room has not divided throughout Kyle Shanahan’s 24 games as the head coach. Not with last year’s 0-9 start, and not with the current six-game losing streak. Coaches and players have maintained this is the one of the closest locker rooms they have been part of.
But it’s not easy to maintain that tight-knit environment, though Shanahan feels they have, particularly when the losses pile up.
“It’s a huge challenge,” Shanahan told KNBR’s Murph and Mac Wednesday morning. “It’s human nature. It’s important to everybody to win and do good. When you don’t win, you are going to hear about it, and rightfully so. Especially in this day and age, you lose two games in a row in a place, and people are going to pull you apart.
That’s tough on anyone, it’s tough on younger people, too, and it’s tough on people who haven’t been through it, especially guys who it means a lot to. That is always a challenge for every team, every team I have been on. It has been a huge challenge here because we haven’t won many games.”
One of the most frustrating aspects of the past two seasons is San Francisco’s failure to close out games. The 49ers are 3-8 in contests decided by three or fewer points. They have held second-half leads in six of eight games this year, and in the final two minutes in two of their seven losses.
The 49ers are averaging 3.8 points per fourth quarter in 2018. Shanahan blames both himself and the players for the fourth-quarter ineptitude. But he feels these growing pains will ultimately pay off, and he has faith the locker room will remain strong.
“That’s part of something we are working through, and something we need to learn how to do, and learn how to win,” Shanahan said on the late-game struggles. “We have had a number of opportunities and haven’t gotten it done yet. I think it’s a very steep learning curve for us, but if guys are willing to be strong through this, it will make us better.
And, I think that is something that is important, that no one wants to go through this, but I think obviously it’s a necessary process to build us team the way we want to go and turn us into the team we want to be.”
Listen to the full segment below. To hear Shanahan talk about the locker room, skip to the 10:20 mark.