Twenty-four hours is the standard allotment of time to enjoy a victory in the NFL – but for the San Francisco 49ers, that was not the case this week.
"(Kyle Shanahan) was pretty blunt with us and said we're not celebrating tonight," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said after the 49ers victory over the Atlanta Falcons. "It's time to get ready for Tennessee and we'll celebrate Thursday night, and hopefully we will have a lot to celebrate after that game."
In a dire victory over the Falcons in Week 15, the 49ers had many reasons to commemorate their win: improving their season record to 8-6 and maintaining their current spot as the sixth seed in the NFC Wild Card race. Yet in the team's physical performance on both offense and defense, Shanahan was confident that all their energy was left on the field.
"I feel pretty confident they (didn't celebrate)," Shanahan said. "They played pretty hard. Those guys, they don't have a ton of energy after games. I feel like we've got kind of a nerdy group when it comes to after games. They'll make up for it in the offseason, I'm sure, though."
The 49ers are heading east to face the 9-5 Tennessee Titans for "Thursday Night Football" at Nissan Stadium, but before their travels, the team must compact six days of preparation into a mere three. Shanahan stressed the importance of refocusing their energy after the team's win on Sunday into productive practices since there will only be a few before getting back to battle.
"The best thing for recovery is sleep," Shanahan said. "That's what we really stress about all the time when you get home ... completely dedicate your mind and your body and everything to these four days because you're still doing all the work mentally and everything and the game's still going to be the same, but you've got to cram it all in. And the only way you do that is with extra sleep and rest."
The (hopefully) rested San Francisco team is focused on carrying their momentum from Sunday's win into Thursday's matchup against the Titans with the goal of continuing to control their own destiny down the final stretch of the season. Tennessee took a tough loss (19-13) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15 despite them leading a physical game. A Titans team that dominated the stat sheet in just about every possible metric against Pittsburgh, including a whopping 39 minutes of possession, is hungry to get back in the win column after coughing up the ball four times on Sunday. Tennessee enters Thursday night looking to retain their one-game lead atop of the AFC South after dropping three of their last four contests.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are on an upward trend, winning three of their last four and inserting their name into the playoff conversation.
"Thursday's are a challenge for everybody," Shanahan said. "It's hard to get a weekend off in the NFL this time of year ... The reward for what you go through these next four days is having three days off, but it's only fun if you win it."
Week 16 will look much different for San Francisco, as no practice was held on Monday and Tuesday's practice will be a combination of their typical Wednesday and Thursday schedules. Before gameday, the team will review their red zone schemes and normal Friday/Saturday goals, all while traveling across the country. Shanahan described Week 16's plans as a "whirlwind."
"We just know what's at stake," wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. "It's a short week, we just have to lock in and continue to build off this game and just continue to play the ball we've been playing."
A win on Thursday will grant the 49ers team an even bigger celebration. In the meantime, San Francisco will uphold their business-like mentality into Nashville, where the battle will be held in primetime and the 49ers hope to secure a closer spot to the playoffs.