Just days from the actual Super Bowl, 49ers players and coaches reflected on an emotional win from 2017, the first year of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era.
Flash back to November 12, 2017. The 49ers were off to a terrible 0-9 start, and 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (19-for-25, 288 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) got the start against the 1-7 New York Giants. Losers of nine straight, with five straight losses by three points or less, the 49ers were desperate for that first win.
In Shanahan’s Thursday press conference, he reflected on his first win as a head coach, and how it set the team up for a successful finish to the season:
“Yeah I think about that a lot. Starting 0-9 was not fun at all. Your first year as a head coach you kind of want to get that monkey off your back and at least get one win in. I didn’t think we’d have to wait until the beginning of November, which was a lot longer than I anticipated. It did feel like we won the Super Bowl after it. It was nice to get to the half, we were in so many close games, we broke an NFL record with five games in a row by three points or less which is something you’re not proud of, but it’s a good 0-9 I guess.
We were pumped, our players were fighting every weekend. All of our guys, it wasn’t just me it was everybody. We lost the next game, so we probably did enjoy it a little bit too much, and you learn from those lessons. There were a number of teams that started 0-9, but no team ever finished with more than three wins, and we were able to finish 6-10 that year. I learned a lot that if you want to get people excited about a 6-10 year, you start 0-9.”
Before the Jimmy Garoppolo era began, Beathard was the 49ers starting quarterback. I asked him about that game, and how it felt to get his first career win. Beathard said:
“Yeah man, I just remember how exciting it was. … Just getting over the hump there, getting our first win, Kyle’s first win, John [Lynch]’s first win. It really did, it felt like the Super Bowl. It was a great feeling and getting that first one for Kyle and John was huge, it will be something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Garoppolo, a newcomer at the time, was present for that game and reflected on what it meant for the team, and how it spoke volumes as to what his new team was made of:
“It was different to me, not gonna lie. It didn’t seem like a normal regular season game, I remember we were throwing water in the locker room, boomboxes were going, everything. It was the cumulation of that whole year i think, just everything those guys have been through. I wasn’t there for all of it, but you can see it. So to get that first win, there was so much emotion coming out of everyone, it was real. That was the first thing I saw when I first got here, just everyone was very honest and real and genuine, and that’s where it all starts. I think that’s what makes us a good team.”
DeForest Buckner was playing in his second season as a member of the 49ers in 2017. Throughout the 0-9 start, he knew that the 2017 49ers were not as bad as their record showed.
“It was our, you know, first win of the season. It was Kyle’s first win of the season, and that’s what we really wanted to do. We started the year off 0-9, and it didn’t feel like an 0-9 season because we were so close in so many games. Coming up short by three or less points, it was unbelievable. We knew we were a better team that what our record showed. We knew we had to find a way to finish, that was our big thing. Finally getting that win, putting everything together, finishing a game, it was definitely rewarding.”
In just three days, the 49ers have a chance to win the actual Super Bowl. Just over two and a half years removed from that frustrating 0-9 start to 2017, the quickness of the turnaround for the 49ers has truly been remarkable.