Photo Credit: 49ers
Even with a shell of a roster which got even shell-ier on Sunday, Kyle Shanahan fully expected a beatdown of the tri-state area Giants. That’s not an outlandish expectation, given the obvious reasons (or reason): Shanahan coaches the 49ers with Robert Saleh as his defensive coordinator and Joe Judge coaches the Giants, with Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator.
That’s a monumental difference in coaching talent.
Of course, the Giants also have a turnover-prone second-year quarterback in Daniel Jones, and even with the 49ers’ backups on the field, San Francisco is probably the more talented team.
But Shanahan pointed to an experience in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, inside the confines of The Greenbrier resort, as the root of the 36-9 victory. After a devastating rash of injuries the week prior, which caused the end of Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas’ seasons, and at least temporarily sidelined Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Dre Greenlaw, the team was expectedly down.
With the team isolated from the outside world there, Shanahan said there was no dearth of emotion on Monday and Tuesday, following a less-than-celebrated win over the Jets. But with the resumption of practice on Wednesday, Shanahan said that mood shifted.
“It just made us a little bit emotional at the start,” Shanahan said. “The injuries were a huge topic last Monday and Tuesday, but what we’re talking about now is really what we started going through on Wednesday. We talked about a lot of stuff, a lot of players in the room. The way we went on a practice on Wednesday, just gave us a lot more confidence. Thursday made us even stronger and then we had a great Friday too. So, I mean that in terms of those three days that we had down there at the Greenbrier, our team kind of expected this.”
Shanahan clarified that his statement of confident was not a dig at the Giants, who he termed a “good team,” pointing to the Giants’ staunch defense of the run game in the first half. They are obviously not a good team, but it was a nice attempt to defer criticism of their battered opponent and re-focus the narrative on his praise of his own team.
“Nothing against them at all, but we had a real good week of practice, and we were pretty confident last night,” Shanahan said. “I know the way it ended up, but by no means was that easy. Those drives were grinds. We didn’t punt today and we didn’t turn it over, but man it didn’t feel like that. We had to work for a lot of stuff and they kept us out of the end zone a number of times. Fortunately our defense was able to get some turnovers, but that’s a good team. It got away a little bit there at the end. But I was real proud of our guys. And that was our plan. Came in and wanted to do that, thought we could do it. I was proud of the guys for pulling it off.”
Quarterback Nick Mullens, who had a single incompletion in the second half, and finished 25-of-36 with 343 yards and one touchdown, pointed to a more obvious factor.
“I mean, we have really good football players,” Mullens said. “And we are very well-aware of that.”