SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is in the midst of his first NFL regular-season transition from one week to the next. For most coaches, there's not enough time to bask in a win or wallow in a defeat before moving on to the next opponent. That's why you'll hear plenty of references around the league to the "24-hour rule."
Shanahan is no different, as he explained Monday how he spends the time after a game before moving on to the next opponent. As you might expect, it involves a whole lot of film watching.
"Yeah, that's what I do, I just watch TV all day," Shanahan said, chuckling.
That's actually not too far off based on Shanahan's explanation of how he spends the 24 hours following a game. After his team's disappointing 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Shanahan addressed his team and then spoke to the media. After that, he returned home to see his family before game-film session No. 1 by himself that night.
When Shanahan woke up and arrived at work on Monday morning, he went through the game again. Then he watched it with the defensive staff. Session No. 4 followed with the offensive staff, and he capped it off with a fifth viewing with special-teams coordinator Richard Hightower.
Along the way, Shanahan spent time picking and choosing about 30 clips from the game. The clip package is an amalgam of the offense and defense with a mixture of good and bad things that happened.
"You just try to educate the guys, especially the other sides of the ball," Shanahan said. "Everyone usually after a day, you've got a lot of stuff to go over and review and by no means can a coordinator or a head coach cover that all in detail for each person in that room. So you know you break up the majority of the time, guys go in and get all their assignments and go through every single play in the game. But then, they never really know what happened outside of that.
"So I try to pull the team together and really just show them the pivotal points in the game -- when you lose momentum, what you've got to do to step it up after a turnover, how you finish there at the end of the first half, what we did coming out in the third quarter to start that -- and you really just show both sides of the ball so people have perspective on what happens.
"People think players know what happens in a game and they do what affects them and stuff. But people are worried about their assignments and their jobs and they're just going as hard as they can, and at the end of the game they just see the score. They know all the plays they missed. They know if you didn't score a lot of points or if you did. They know those little things, but they don't really know the whys. I think as much as you can as a head coach, when you can show everyone the whys, it helps people understand how close you can be and why you have to tighten things up.”
When that full-team meeting breaks, Shanahan goes and watches the game again with the offense and then meets with the quarterbacks. All told, Shanahan watches at least bits and pieces of the game a total of eight times before meeting with the media on Monday afternoon for a rehash of the game's events.
Mixed into Shanahan's evaluation of his players is some time for self-reflection. For example, Shanahan said Sunday he would go back and review his decisions to go for it twice on fourth down near midfield in the first half against Carolina. The Niners failed both times and the Panthers turned those into field goals.
Upon closer inspection, Shanahan said he regretted the first attempt but not the second.
"Looking back at all of them, the first one is the one I regretted, when it was fourth-and-4," he said. "I think there was about three and a half minutes left. We were down seven. [Safety Jaquiski] Tartt just made an unbelievable play on a pick. I thought we were moving the ball pretty well and came up short there on third down, and I just, I believed we were going to get it.
"I had a lot of confidence that we would and it just didn't work out. But definitely looking back on that, I wish I did punt because I think it would have made it a lot harder for them to go 90 yards. That would have been tough on them. They did get a field goal off that, so I regret that decision. The next time we went down, it was fourth-and-1. I think there was 40 seconds left. That one I didn't regret. I felt real good about that and I would do that one again.”
Film review is often the best opportunity for a team to know where it stands and how far it has to go. The first week of the season can often yield wild outcomes, and it's always important to note that results can vary wildly from the first week to the second.
Nobody knows that better than the Niners, who had won six straight season openers before Sunday's loss to Carolina. In one of those six years, they went to the Super Bowl. In another, they went 2-14.
In other words, a big win or a disappointing defeat in Week 1 rarely is a sign of things to come. In Shanahan's final evaluation of his first regular-season game as head coach, he saw the warts, but he didn't see a team that was overmatched.
“The thing that's tough for a coach when you look on tape and you just feel like you have no chance or something like that, then there's not much to say," Shanahan said. "There's a lot of clips there you could see that we had a lot of opportunities that we missed on and especially early. When you have those opportunities and you take them and you just come up a little bit short, when you're going against a good team like that, especially the defense that they have, the way they can control the ball, it's tough to overcome.
"But I think our guys watching the tape today, by no means do they just look at it and feel that they didn't have a chance. I think we're all disappointed because there was a number of times that we could have had a chance to be in that game and we just came up short.”
As is so often the case, the tape doesn't lie. Even on repeated viewings.