How Kyle Shanahan cruelly motivates 49ers defense before big games

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How Shanahan ruthlessly motivates 49ers defense before games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It’s no secret that Kyle Shanahan makes magic happen with the 49ers’ offense, but apparently, he’s found a way to get the defense going too.

In the week before a big game, Shanahan sometimes will mess with the defense and put things in the players’ heads to ignite a fire in them.

Typically, it works. And it was no different this past week as the 49ers prepared for their biggest game of the 2022 NFL season.

"I think today, he might have took a little shot at our defense, saying that the [Dallas] Cowboys defense might be playing better than us or something," 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said Thursday (h/t 49ers Webzone’s David Bonilla). "So, of course, I took that to heart. But he's always trying to find ways to kind of bring the best out of us."

Shanahan took a similar approach before San Francisco's big Week 13 game against former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel's Miami Dolphins team on Dec. 4 at Levi's Stadium.

The coach was making comments all week leading up to the game, and 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa didn't forget his coach's remarks.

"I kind of messed with the D-Line and Bosa last night, telling them that I thought the linebackers outperformed them last week," Shanahan explained after the 49ers' 33-17 win. "I thought they would smile at it, but [Bosa] didn't smile at all."

Instead, Bosa responded with three sacks and a forced fumble against Miami.

After his third sack, Bosa made sure to return the favor to his coach and have the final word.

"I was like, 'Don't talk s--t about me anymore. Or talk more s--t about me,'" Bosa said.

Shanahan then figured he would do it more often in hopes of provoking a similar performance from Bosa and the rest of the unit.

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San Francisco’s defense is a very confident and prideful unit. They’re top-ranked in the league for a reason, and they hold that title very close to them. Not only are they the best, but defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans keeps his guys on their toes and constantly is finding ways to improve and perfect.

And while Ryans has done a terrific job with the defense's game plan, Shanahan's mind games give them that extra push. They don't call him a mastermind for nothing.

With the NFC Championship Game on the line, Warner, Bosa and the rest of the 49ers' defense surely can't wait to prove their coach wrong on Sunday.

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