Now in the second year of that contract, 49ers players believe that the consistency is paying off, especially looking towards training camp.
Twelve-year veteran left tackle Joe Staley expanded on this belief Wednesday:
“We haven’t had years where we go into the season with the [coaching] staff being the same. It’s nice not having to open up the playbook and just basically learn terminology.”
For Staley, his career has been peppered with coaching changes. In his 12 NFL seasons, the All-Pro offensive lineman has seen the likes of eight different offensive coordinators. Most recently, Staley has endured four coaching staff overhauls.
But the revolving door of coaches in San Francisco has finally stopped.
For the first time since the Jim Harbaugh era, a steady message, scheme and culture have provided a foundation for success, and the league got a glimpse of the that potential success when the 49ers ended the season on a five-game winning streak.
Shanahan spoke about how grueling it was to make that transition last season:
“It’s really hard to change a culture, which means there’s one philosophy and now you’re trying to do yours. You can say it all you want but you have to drill that and you have to preach it every day.”
Lucky for Shanahan, neither he nor his coaching staff will be tasked with restructuring franchise from the bottom up again this year.
The 49ers will enter training camp in 2018 with nearly half of their 90-man roster consisting of returners from either the active 53-man roster or practice squad in 2017.
Shanahan acknowledged this luxury:
“We don’t have to beat it in so much because other players do. Everyone has a much better idea so that makes it a little more exciting and makes you feel like you can take steps with them a little quicker.”
One player who the 49ers will undoubtedly be looking to take quick steps with will be starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Coming from the New England Patriots organization, Garoppolo knows a thing or two about consistency within a team. But after being traded to San Francisco in Week 8, the 25-year-old signal caller was given just two months to pick up on the complex offensive scheme employed by Shanahan.
Garoppolo explained the rigorous process of preparing for games late last season:
“You’re preparing for a defense that you’re learning in a week. But at the same time, you’re learning brand new calls, new verbiage and all that stuff. It was combining all of that into one that made it so difficult.”
For as tough as it was for Garoppolo to digest the nuances of a brand-new playbook, the results were more than encouraging. Now with the chance to get even more familiar with the playbook during training camp, it’s fair to ponder what else Garoppolo could achieve.
Shanahan, however, isn’t ready to make that leap. Instead, he has his eyes set on camp and how he can make his team better:
“Every year it’s a new team and we have to see how this team gels together. We have to mix some new pieces and make sure the people who were here get better, not worse.”
The 49ers will hit the field for the first time in the form of an organized, mandatory practice Thursday morning. It’ll be a first look at how much the investment of continuity is really worth.