Thu Oct 17 4:31pm ET
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writer
In this Dec. 15, 2013, file photo, then-Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan speaks to then-Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, in Atlanta. Kyle Shanahan is in a better place now. After serving as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator under his dad, Mike Shanahan, from 2010-2013, he returns Sunday to face them as coach of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
In this Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan works the sideline during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. Almost nothing has gone wrong for Shanahan and the unbeaten 49ers, who are in position to establish themselves as the favorite in the division that the Los Angeles Rams dominated since head coach Sean McVays arrival. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, )
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Kyle Shanahan is in a better place now.
After serving as the Washington Redskins' offensive coordinator under his dad, Mike Shanahan, from 2010-2013, he returns Sunday to face them as coach of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.
Six years after the Shanahans were fired, the Dan Snyder-owned and Bruce Allen-run Redskins are about to embark on another coaching search. The position might be harder to fill if candidates go to Kyle for advice.
He said the best part of Washington was being able to work with his dad and be around some other good coaches. The worst part? ''Everything else.'' The 49ers coach paused. ''I liked a lot of the players - some good people,'' he said.
''We've accepted what we had to deal with there, and we've moved on,'' Shanahan said. ''We'll watch other people deal with it.''
Shanahan was one of three future NFL head coaches on the Redskins' staff in 2012 and 2013, along with Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur. McVay took the Rams to the Super Bowl last season, LaFleur is in his first season in charge of the Green Bay Packers, and the three coaches' teams have combined to go 13-4 this year.
Snyder and Allen fired Jay Gruden after the Redskins lost their first five games, and Washington eked out a 17-16 win at the hapless Miami Dolphins last week in interim coach Bill Callahan's debut. The 5-0 49ers look like justifiable double-digit favorites and are rolling under Shanahan, who has transformed the culture in San Francisco, in part because his time with the Redskins taught him what not to do.
''I just learned it's very important to work with people that have the same intentions and you want to go in the same direction,'' Shanahan said. ''Football is a very tough game and no matter how close you are with people, there's adversity that faces everyone and when you lose one game, two games in a row, you know what's going to be written and everything and (if) people live off that type of stuff, it's very hard to survive and get through any tough times.
''So, you've got to make sure people are made of the same stuff you are, that have the same intention, same goals and they're ready to fight and work through things and see it to the end.''
Shanahan, who coached a game with the Niners at FedEx Field two seasons ago, said his well-timed visit this time on Redskins alumni ''Homecoming Weekend'' is not personal. The only offensive players left from his time with Washington are injured running back Chris Thompson and holdout left tackle Trent Williams.
''I've moved on with my life in many other ways, and I think my family has also,'' Shanahan said. ''It's not an issue. We've got our team coming to play their team and we're looking forward to that.''
Shanahan has grown significantly from the introverted, closed-off offensive coordinator he was in Washington to now. Players then appreciated his football acumen, but more goes into being a head coach.
''As an OC in Washington, you saw kind of how smart he was, the way he saw the game,'' said Houston Texans tight end Logan Paulsen, who played for Shanahan in Washington and San Francisco.
''The thing that I thought that was really cool going from Washington to San Francisco was seeing his maturity in terms of talking and dealing with players and different personalities. He was always a very bright football guy and to see his leadership skills really come into his own was really cool to see.''
Paulsen said Shanahan exercised patience waiting for the right opportunity to take a head job and ''did it on his own time.'' With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo running his offense and one of the best defenses in the league, Shanahan is an early front-runner for coach of the year.
''He is a football junkie, and I think guys really respect that,'' Paulsen said. ''They see kind of the standard that's set by him in terms of what they need to know and how they need to respond in certain situations, and I think that's really special.''
Washington's current offensive coordinator, Kevin O'Connell, could be the coach next season, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's name has been tossed around. Whoever interviews and gets offered the job, Shanahan doesn't expect to be asked for his thoughts on the organization.
''Just look into it, see what the situation is and who you want to work for,'' Shanahan said. ''Any time you get opportunities you've got to look into it, but I'm not there and I don't know how it is right now. That would be up to that person. I'm probably not the person they want to call on that advice.''
Some things to watch when Shanahan's 49ers visit the Redskins:
After going winless on the road last year, the Niners have been outstanding away from home so far this year. They opened the season with back-to-back wins at Tampa Bay and Cincinnati and then won 20-7 last week at Los Angeles against McVay and the defending NFC champion Rams. San Francisco hasn't had a winning record on the road since going 6-2 in 2013 on the way to the NFC title game.
''I know we didn't win a road game last season, preseason or regular season, so those plane rides weren't very fun,'' tight end George Kittle said. ''Being able to get on those planes and come back with a victory makes it so much more fun.''
The Redskins haven't won at home since Week 7 in 2018.
RUN, RUN, RUN?
Callahan promised to commit to the ground game after taking over for Gruden, and boy, did he. Adrian Peterson rushed 23 times for 118 yards at Miami.
San Francisco's run defense might force more throws from still starting QB Case Keenum.
''We'll do whatever we need to do,'' Callahan said. ''Of course we want to establish the run and we want to keep that identity just like everybody else around the league, but they're good.''
The Niners managed to win last week despite playing two backups at tackle. Rookie Justin Skule made his third straight start at left tackle in place of Joe Staley, while Daniel Brunskill got his first career start at right tackle in place of Mike McGlinchey. San Francisco was still able to move the ball fairly consistently without altering the offense too much.
''I thought the two rookies did a great job stepping in and filling their roles,'' Garoppolo said. ''Those guys are just battling up front. What they do in the run game and pass game is so impressive.''
Washington's Terry McLaurin is the first rookie with 50-plus yards receiving in each of his first five NFL games since Terry Glenn in 1996. McLaurin leads all rookies with 23 catches, 408 yards and five touchdowns and is already the Redskins' best offensive player.
''He's done a really good job for them stepping in as a rookie, which is rare for receivers,'' Shanahan said. ''But you've got a very good football player and he's tough and the game's not too big.''
San Francisco's defense has played at a high level all season but might have been at its best last week. The Niners are allowing a league-low 150.2 yards per game passing, and rank second in points allowed (12.8 per game) and total defense (237.4 yards per game) thanks to a dominant defensive line that has put heavy pressure on opposing passers. San Francisco allowed just 48 net yards passing last week against the Rams and held Los Angeles to no conversions on third or fourth down.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, is listed as questionable for the Titans Week 12 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Should Walker suit up, expect him to be on a limited snap count with Jonnu Smith still functioning as the team's primary pass-catching tight end. If Walker sits, Smith moves back into the low-end TE1 streaming range. Neither would be enticing options if Walker returns this week, however.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (hip) is expected to be available in Week 12 after missing their last game. Since Tannehill has taken over in Week 7, Davis appears to be in a fairly even split with A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries for targets. In a low volume passing offense, Davis is nothing more than a low-end WR3 with a near zero floor. A.J. Brown would be recommended as the top option of the three due to his big play ability after the catch, but none are exciting options in a matchup where the Titans will likely try to run the ball with Derrick Henry.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry seems to get better as the year progresses every season. Henry is the PPR RB6 overall on a per game basis since Week 8 as the Titans have began to lean more heavily on their stud RB. This week should be no different as the Titans are coming off of a bye to host the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have been allowing running backs to run freely in recent weeks, most recently allowing the Indianapolis Colts to rush for 264 yards on 7.3 yards per carry. Henry should be able to wear the Jaguars down in the second half, paving the way for big play opportunities.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets a great matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. Kamara got himself back on track last week, as he racked up 122 scrimmage yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team tough on opposing backs. He's still scored just two touchdowns this year, though the Carolina Panthers could be just what the doctor ordered. They've allowed the sixth-most rushing yards and the most touchdowns to opposing backs. Kamara will have a huge workload in this game and has a chance to be the best fantasy back of the week. Start him as an RB1 and reap the rewards.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been a QB1 on a points per game basis ever since his insertion into the starting lineup in Week 7. Part of his consistency has come from his willingness to run, with 16 rush attempts through four games. Tannehill and the Titans are coming off a bye week to face a Jacksonville Jaguars Defense that has not lived up to the hype they had coming into the season. Tannehill should once again be able to produce borderline QB1 numbers at home this week, making him a solid streaming option and a nice discount play in daily fantasy formats.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (foot) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Buccaneers. He will miss his second straight game, which will put Brian Hill in line to make the start. Freeman should remain rostered in just about all leagues as he should have a chance to return in Week 13 and he'd likely reassume his No. 1 running back duties. Hill got a heavy workload in Week 11, but didn't do much with it, while Qadree Ollison ended up scoring a touchdown as the team's No. 2 running back in the game. Hill is a low-end RB2 or flex option this week.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) won't play Sunday, Nov. 24, in Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: There was some hope after Njoku was cleared to practice earlier in the week coming off the Reserve/Injured list, but instead we'll have at least another week of the fantasy-unfriendly Ricky Seals-Jones/Demetrius Harris/Stephen Carlson logjam at tight end.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will take on the Carolina Panthers at home in Week 12. The 40-year-old has attempted at least 35 passes in four starts and has thrown for multiple touchdown passes in three games this year. The Panthers have a strong pass defense ranked 13th in the NFL and have 39 sacks, tied for first in the league. The Saints may go run-heavy in this game, considering Carolina has given up the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL. Still, it's hard to bet against Brees in the Superdome. The Panthers may not have an answer for Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, allowing Brees to do just enough. Brees is a QB1 this week, though he'll likely be a low-end option.
New York Giants TEs Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) on Friday, Nov. 22, were ruled out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: Giants tight end fantasy frustration continues, and with Scott Simonson and Kaden Smith now moving up to the top of the depth chart, it's a situation to be avoided altogether until further notice.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Jay Ajayi could have a 'notable role' in Week 12 on Sunday, Nov. 24, especially if fellow RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) misses a second straight game, according to a team beat reporter.
Fantasy Spin: Ajayi didn't play in Week 11, but that was days after being signed off the street. Rookie Miles Sanders' turn as the Philly's lead back didn't net much success (47 yards on 13 total touches) in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, and if Howard does sit out, it sounds like Ajayi would handle most of the Eagles' carries with Sanders reverting back to his pass-catching, change-of-pace role. If Howard is indeed out -- and we likely know for sure until Sunday morning -- throw Ajayi in as a flex/RB2 if you're in late-season need at running back.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) isn't a candidate to be re-signed by the New England Patriots, a source told The Athletic on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Fantasy Spin: Brown is still under investigation by by the league, and until that wraps up, he won't be signing with any team. Even if he's cleared, don't expect to see Brown back in the league until next season.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) didn't practice again Friday, Nov. 22, but head coach Doug Pederson says the wide receiver is trending toward being able to play in Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: It sounds like Agholor has a chance of playing Sunday, but so does Philly's top receiver Alshon Jeffery. If so, Agholor falls back to deeper-league flex territory given his injury and recent struggles.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Chase McLaughlin has started two straight games while starting kicker Robbie Gould (quadriceps) has been out. Gould is yet to practice this week and appears to be trending towards missing his third straight game. McLaughlin has converted for of his five field goal attempts and all four of his extra-point attempts in Gould's absence. This week, the 49ers face the Packers in a game that figures to be high-scoring. McLaughlin is worthy of starting this week, just make sure to keep an eye on Gould's status leading up to the game.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is trending in the right direction in terms of playing in Week 12, head coach Doug Pederson said Friday, Nov. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery's last action came before the Eagles' bye in Week 10, and if he plays he'll be a WR2 start against a beatable Seattle secondary. Stay tuned for Philly's official Week 12 injury report.
The 49ers Defense has been floundering a bit lately, giving up between 25 and 27 points in their last three games. This week, they face the Packers, who are coming off their bye week. The Packers average around 25 points per game and have thrown a league-low two interceptions on the year. They've also only yielded 22 sacks on the season. The game could end up being something of a shootout and the Packers will likely end up scoring right around their average in points with little likelihood of turnovers. The 49ers defense is a low-end starting option at best, but you might want to avoid them if you can this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman is in a great position to have a solid game in Week 12. He's had at least 13 touches in each game he's played since his return from injury and it looks likely that the team will be without No. 2 running back Matt Breida (ankle) for the second straight week. Coleman hasn't flourished with his heavy workload this year, apart from his four-touchdown explosion against the Panthers. Still, he's been managing to gain around 60 yards per game and he's been active in both the run game and pass game for the 49ers. Expect him to see at least 15 touches this week against a Packers Defense that has been vulnerable against both the pass and run. Coleman could end up with between 80 and 100 yards this week with a good chance to score.
The Green Bay Packers Defense will face Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Garoppolo hasn't been careful with the football this year, as he's committed 17 turnovers in 10 games. The Packers have intercepted nine passes this year, ranking eighth in the NFL. Garoppolo has been sacked at least once in all but one game this year, giving the Packers defense a decent floor this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) is yet to practice this week and is listed as questionable for Week 12, though he might be trending more towards doubtful. If he ends up suiting up, he's a very risky start this week. The team's No. 1 running back Tevin Coleman will likely carry the load and if Breida plays, he'd probably see around five or six touches as Raheem Mostert will likely be involved too. Breida should remain on most rosters in leagues of 12 teams or deeper but keep him on your bench this week regardless of whether he's active or not.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (knee) has been a limited practice participant this week, but he appears likely to play. Last week, he saw eight touches against the Cardinals while Matt Breida (ankle) was out and Breida is likely to be out for the second straight game in Week 12. Mostert should see around eight to ten touches this week, which will give him a good chance to break some big plays against a vulnerable Packers Defense. The team has a multitude of injuries, most notably George Kittle (knee), Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (back). If the 49ers are without a few of those guys in Week 12, Mostert could be counted on even more. He's a potential flex play in leagues of 12 teams or deeper.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) is out for Week 12.
Fantasy Spin: Jeff Driskel has been quietly good against two tough teams the last two weeks. He threw for 478 yards, three touchdowns and an interception with 88 rushing yards and a score against the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. He's a sneaky low-end QB1 against the Washington Redskins.