NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (8-5) conclude their two-game road trip with a Wee 15 match-up against the San Francisco 49ers. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan phoned in from the Bay Area to chat with the Nashville media about the upcoming game.
Here is what he had to say:
- JIMMY G.
- Since being traded from the New England Patriots earlier this season, San Francisco quarterback has ignited a team that looked mostly inept through the 2017 campaign. Since being inserted as the Niners starting quarterback in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears, Garoppolo’s 627 passing yards are the most by a 49ers signal-caller in two starts since 1970.
- “He’s played well versus Chicago and he played better last week versus Houston,” Shanahan said of the man they call Jimmy G. “I’ve just been impressed with him just coming into a situation where he didn’t have all the time to fully get ready and understand everything, and for him to go in there and still stay poised, stay confident. He’s made some plays too. By no means has it just been served up to him – he’s getting in there and he’s made a bunch of big plays that’ve given us a chance to win these games. I feel like the guys have been playing a little bit better around him also.”
- Garoppolo is one of four active quarterbacks to win each of his first four career start; in last Sunday’s win in Houston against the Texans, he threw for a career-high 344 yards. This week in Santa Clara against the Titans will be the fourth-year pro’s first home start for his new team.
- MOMENTUM…IT’S A THING
- There are few things I detest more in sports than coaching cliches. They are mind-numbingly dull, fairly useless in nature and an excellent way for a coach to begrudgingly complete his media obligations without actually saying anything. But, being a hypocrite, I cannot help but to use of these phrases I rail against regularly when I say that it appears this re-energized 49ers roster is truly learning how to win games.
- “We’ve definitely been playing better,” Shanahan said. “We had our best game of the year, at the time, versus the Giants, and that was right before, two games before we started playing him. We started showing that versus the Giants then we had our bye week and came back and played pretty bad, pretty poorly versus Seattle. Then we played Jimmy (Garoppolo) versus Chicago, and I don’t know if it was Jimmy or what, but I thought we did play one of our better games in all three phases. Our receivers had their best game and we protected very well too. I think that did lead to Houston. We started off the Houston game, we missed a number of opportunities, guys, it really didn’t phase them. They came back later in the game and rebounded and made some big plays. Doing this three out of the last four weeks, I think guys naturally do get more and more confident. Jimmy’s made some big plays, which does give guys confidence, it makes receivers have more fun down the field. I think defense and special teams see that and feed off that just like the offense feeds off them.”
- Since beginning this season win-less through their first nine game, San Francisco has emerged victorious in back-to-back contests, the first time they’ve won two games in a row and two consecutive road games since 2014, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.Com. It was also the Niners’ third win in their past four contests.
- YOUTH MOVEMENT
- San Francisco’s early lack of success was due, in part, to a talent-bereft roster but also a great deal of youth. Defensively, the Niners have the third-youngest starting lineup in the NFL with an average age of 24.91.
- “I think we’ve gone through some waves throughout the year where guys get on the field, they’re excited about it,” said Shanahan of his youthful defense. “They start to have some learning experiences, through the NFL, how you have to take care of your body throughout the week to recover for the next game on Sunday. How smart you have to be with your sleep, your work habits, your rehab, and just really how you eat, take care of your body. It’s a long year, and we’ve been playing a lot of young guys. I think they’ve gone through some highs and lows. As far as our rookie group, especially on defense there, I think they’re really coming through at this time of year. I think it’s started to click for them, which it has been a positive in this year, despite our record. I think our guys have gotten better and they learned a lot and they’re going to be better going into next year because of it.”
- Coming into Week 1 of the this NFL season, the Cleveland Browns had the youngest average age among it’s group of starters (24.40) but San Francisco was not far behind, clocking in with the ninth-youngest at 26.41.