Four games remain in Kyle Shanahan’s first season as 49ers coach. After a franchise-worst 0-9 start, he’s looking to guide the 49ers to their third win in four games Sunday when they visit the Houston Texans (4-8).
Shanahan summed up the 49ers’ state and direction in a three-minute, long-winded answer Friday before flying to Houston. Here is what he said:
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season. It’s been tough because of our record. But I do look at this season as a positive, which don’t misunderstand me when I say that, because I’m extremely disappointed with our record.
"But this season, although it hasn’t gone exactly how I want, it was a necessity in to where we’re trying to go. It will be part of the process that will lead us to better things."
"We’ve had to find out a lot about people, about some of our players. They’ve had to find out a lot about us as coaches. We’ve gotten better through it.
"A true brotherhood, people who play for each other, people who can get tighter, I feel that happens going through adversity together and responding together. Nothing’s been perfect by any means. Very far from that. But I feel our guys have gotten stronger throughout the year. I felt that not just last week but I’ve felt that over the last month. It always is nice when you do win, because you can reward that feeling. Guys feel it, they hope it and can see the result.
“That game against Chicago, we could have missed the field goal at the last second. They could have had those laterals (on the ensuing kickoff) returned. We probably would have felt a lot different. But should we have? Yeah, because you’re graded on wins and losses.
“If we missed have missed that field goal, does that take away all the positive stuff we felt we did? It probably would have. That’s why you have to be so mentally strong in this game and see the big picture, and try not to let outside things affect you. You worry about things you can control, and that’s doing your best, playing your hardest, trying to get better each week. And I think our team has done a good job focusing on that stuff. It’s been nice to get a week last week to reward them. I hope we can continue to get some more.
“But our whole thing here is trying to get better. If that’s all you focus on and not worry about anything else, usually good things happen, and you hope they happen sooner than later.
(Reporter: What did he mean by saying this season was "necessary?”)
“I personally think everything happens for a reason. I try not to label things. Even though it might seem like a negative, I think sometimes … If you would have told me I would have had to come here and it was going to take 10 weeks to get a win, I would have probably said that’s going to be rough and I would not have said that’s a positive, that’s a negative. But you try not to sit here and harp on that.
“You try to think, ‘Alright this did happen. Yeah it’s tough, but it’s going to be positive because it is going lead us to something, pull us together and have us go through things we can go through and help us next year when we go through something. Hopefully it’s not nine (losses) in a row. Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s two, maybe it’s three.
“When you go through things like that and how it feels, you know how to handle it better the next time.
“I like to say the word, ‘battle-tested." I don’t think you find out about yourself or about the people next to you until you see how they respond to adversity. We’ve seen that a lot this year. That’s why our team has a very good feeling for each other and what we’re capable of. The guys who’ve stood through this and continue to get better, those are the guys you know you can count on next year and a part of this for the future.
“Of course we’re going to continue to add and hopefully build each year, but going through this, you get a foundation of some players can handle stuff, are battle-tested and are going to be much stronger for it going into next year.”
Shanahan is looking to become the first 49ers coach to return for a second season since Jim Harbaugh (2011-14). Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly were ousted after going 5-11 and 2-14, respectively, the past two seasons.