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Kyle Shanahan Plays his Preseason Cards to his Chest

When you play sportsbooks poker you don’t have to worry about anyone looking at your cards, but 49ers coach Shanahan will have to put his poker face on.

Kyle Shanahan Plays his Preseason Cards to his Chest


When you play at US sportsbooks poker you don’t have to worry about anyone looking at your cards, but new San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will have to make like Lady Gaga and put his poker face on – which he may or may not keep in a jar by the door. The former Falcons offensive coordinator doesn’t intend to show “much at all” of his playbook during the preseason. “To be honest with you, it’s miserable for a coach. You never want to go out and look bad and get embarrassed,” he said, “but I also am very well aware that any play that works in the preseason will not work in the regular season, so you don’t want to waste anything, either.”

Shanahan also said that the Niners starters would not play more than a quarter in their preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Paralleling the order in which they arrived in San Francisco, Brian Hoyer will start against the Chiefs and Matt Barkley would enter the game later on. Hoyer signed a two-year contract with the 49ers on March 9th, 2017 while did likewise the very next day. Both spent the previous season with the Chicago Bears, but since they can’t do everything together, Hoyer is expected to be starting QB for the 2017 season and Barkley is – or at least was but more on that later – expected to be his backup.

According to Around the NFL writer Marc Sessler, Hoyer is a “quintessential journeyman” (he has been employed by seven teams in eight years) but the arrival of Shanahan – with whom Hoyer worked while with the Browns – could give him some stability. Many see Hoyer as a rough-and-ready before the 49ers’ next franchise quarterback – the new Jeff Garcia, if you will. Though the old Jeff Garcia thinks Hoyer could be the next Jeff Garcia. “It’s all about opportunities in the NFL and taking advantage of those opportunities. … This is his opportunity to … take the bull by the horns,” Garcia told 95.7 The Game.

Garcia himself was supposed to be a stopgap following Steve Young’s retirement but ended up playing 74 games in five seasons in San Francisco. “When he stepped on the field in Cleveland under (Kyle) Shanahan’s system, I did like what I saw and how he operated the system,” Garcia said of Hoyer. “Now getting a full offseason, a full training camp to be that guy, it’s a matter of him staying healthy and executing the system. I think he’s very capable of doing it and taking advantage of this opportunity.”

As mentioned above, Barkley was signed one day after Hoyer to be his backup, but rookie C.J. Beathard is giving him a run for his money for that position. The third round pick from Iowa has impressed Shanahan with his beyond-his-years maturity and his improvements from one practice to the next. “We knew coming into training camp that it was what he had done at OTAs he earned the right to compete for that two spot,” Shanahan said. Beathard would play in the preseason opener after Barkley, leaving little or no time for fourth-stringer Nick Mullens.

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