Following the close of the San Francisco 49ers 2018 season, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan addressed the media one final in time as the duo head into their third offseason as a general manager-head coach tandem. Here are four takeaways from Monday's press conference.
1. Keeping the Coaching Staff Intact
Shanahan confirmed that he doesn’t foresee making any significant changes with his coaching staff. That includes defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who Shanahan credits with the 49ers notable improvements on defense. San Francisco finished the year ranked 11th in passing yards allowed, 14th against the run and 13th in the league in total yardage in 2018 – an improvement from the team’s 22nd, 22nd and 24th rankings in 2017, respectively.
“I'm with (Saleh) every day, so I know how good of a coach he is,” Shanahan said on Monday. “I know how he is schematically. I know how he is dealing with the players. I know what he can handle just with his personality and how smart he is and that's a lot. I also know that he took over a 32nd-ranked defense. I don't know what we finished up today, I haven't seen the final rankings, 13th. I think he's improved us a lot. I think we went from one of the worst defenses stopping the run in the history of football to being a pretty sound defense versus the run.
“I think we played a lot more sound and we've taken drastic improvements in the two years we've been here. I think he did go through a lot this year with injuries and stuff. Not as much talked about because not a lot of guys were put on IR, but to play with eight safeties during the year, to change your two inside linebackers, I think we had a lot of turnover, which is part of football. But, we need to get better at not giving up as many points, which will help the less we turn it over on offense, the more turnovers we can get on defense. But, you know, Saleh’s done a good job and I think he'll only get better.”
*2. Good News for Laken Tomlinson *
The 49ers dodged a bullet following Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Guard Laken Tomlinson was carted off the field with what was initially feared to be an ACL injury that would have sidelined him for some (if not all) of 2019. Instead, John Lynch revealed that the 49ers left guard suffered a torn MCL and is facing a three-month recovery timetable.
Tomlinson has made a start in 31 consecutive games. Prior to Sunday’s injury, Tomlinson was San Francisco’s only player to log every offense snap this season.
3. Armstead's Return
The 49ers have been pleased with former first-round pick Arik Armstead’s progress over the season. San Francisco picked up Armstead’s fifth-year option last April, which is not fully guaranteed until March. The 49ers will have until the start of the new league year to make a decision on Armstead’s future in San Francisco. Armstead is coming off of arguably his best season. The fourth-year defensive lineman appeared in all 16 games and totaled a career-high 48 tackles and three sacks. His ability to stay healthy and play in all 16 games was a welcomed sight for the defensive lineman.
In a vacuum, Shanahan said that the 49ers would like to keep Armstead, but the coach conceded that there are more factors that will go into that decision.
“Arik's done a good job and you don't want to lose good players,” Shanahan said. “Those decisions are based off of how do you want to balance and allocate all the money because you can’t do whatever you want. What are the options out there, what's our depth chart look like and what's the best way to do it? But, if it's as simple as just Arik, then yes, we really are happy with Arik.”
It was announced on Monday that the 49ers staff will coach the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile Ala. on Jan 26. In a press release by Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, the 49ers staff, led by Shanahan, will coach the South team. Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders staff will coach the North team. San Francisco previously coached in the Senior Bowl three straight times from 2006-2008 when Mike Nolan was the team's head coach.