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.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (back) missed another practice on Wednesday, but he wants to play again this season when he's cleared by doctors. However, Detroit is currently 3-6-1 and has very little chance of making the playoffs, so it's not like the Lions will rush their starting quarterback back. Stafford is expected to miss his third straight game after his streak of 136 straight starts was broken two weeks ago. He doesn't when it'll be, he just wants to make it back this season. Stafford was second in the NFL at the time of his injury with 19 touchdowns, and he was leading the NFL in 20-plus yard completions (41). He remains week-to-week, and fantasy owners must come to grips with the fact that he might not help them again in 2019. Jeff Driskel will remain the starter while Stafford is out.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Adams will be fine to play on Sunday night against the 49ers. The 26-year-old has seen a healthy 21 targets in his two games since returning from turf toe, and he went for 118 yards before the Week 11 bye against Carolina. Adams is a must-start as quarterback Aaron Rodgers' top target, but the Niners have been very good at limiting opposing wideouts in 2019. Consider him more of a low-end WR1, and he'll be looking for his first touchdown of the season this weekend.
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (foot, wrist) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Barring a setback in practice later this week, Lindsay will be good to go for Week 12 against the Bills. The second-year back has mostly been a disappointment in 2019 while sharing backfield work with Royce Freeman in an offense that doesn't score many points, but Denver proved last week that they plan on giving more work to Lindsay to close out the season. The 25-year-old had his most carries (16) since Sept. 22 against the Packers. He's the better fantasy back in Denver's backfield and will have low-end RB2 appeal this weekend.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle had been one of the most consistent players on the team before he disappeared in Week 11 with no targets or catches. In Week 12, you can't count on him to produce a lot, and his ceiling was never all that high anyway. He only has three touchdowns on the year, and he's only gone over 50 yards in a game one time this season. Good fantasy football tight ends are hard to find, especially when two or three of them are on byes this week, but you can still find a better option than Doyle.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines saw his stock shoot up earlier this week when starting running back Marlon Mack (hand) was announced as out for Thursday's game with the Houston Texans. In PPR formats, Hines can easily get you 10 to 12 points with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. The Texans have given up more receptions to running backs than any other team in the NFL this season. Hines still doesn't present much value in standard leagues, but he gives you a decent flex option if you're short-handed this week in PPR leagues.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins has essentially been a non-factor all season, but with starter Marlon Mack (hand) out for Week 12, he presents some deeper league sleeper potential. Running back Jonathan Williams was the hot hand in Week 11, but Wilkins is more experienced with the team. Head coach Frank Reich could opt to split carries and ride whatever running back is rolling. Wilkins could be that, as he boasts a career yard-per-carry average of 5.8. Unless you're desperate, though, don't count on him for anything consistent.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was thrust into a major role after starter Marlon Mack (hand) left the game in Week 11. In Week 12, he'll receive a fair bit of work against the Houston Texans, but it's tough to tell how much. The Colts were up comfortably for much of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he was the hot hand on the afternoon. Against the Texans, the Colts could go for more of a committee approach, which could lower Williams' ceiling. If he gets rolling like he did last week, he's a great play. Otherwise, he could come out with a dud. He shouldn't be relied upon unless absolutely necessary, especially since he could play second fiddle to Jordan Wilkins on early downs.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) is questionable heading into the team's Week 12 matchup with the Houston Texans, but if he plays, you almost have to start him. He's been an elite player when he's been on the field this season, and he's consistently torn up the Texans in the past. He's about two weeks removed from his injury, and it's still questionable if he'll be able to suit up. With Hilton's talent and the Texans' inability to stop opposing pass-catchers, he's startable this week if he's active.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal has steadily been fading over the last month of the season. In Week 12, he has some upside against the Houston Texans, who he went for six catches, 106 yards and two touchdowns against earlier this season, but he's been too inconsistent to rely upon every week. There are a number of good offenses with good wide receivers that are on byes this week that could force you into playing Pascal, and he has the ability to score a fair bit of points. However, his inconsistency should have you looking elsewhere. With T.Y. Hilton (calf) potentially returning as the team's No. 1 receiver, it'll give you even more reason to fade Pascal in this run-first offense.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron remains firmly in the TE2 category thanks to his athleticism and abilities in the red zone. In Week 12 against the Houston Texans, he is again a TE2 with upside thanks to a soft defense. You likely drafted Ebron to be your top tight end, and he hasn't been that this season with just three touchdowns through 10 games. This could be the week he gets back into the end zone, but there are still a few players with better matchups and outlooks than him.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has a matchup with the Houston Texans in Week 12, and he has the potential to have a big week. The Texans have the offense to put up a lot of points, but their defense has been suspect due to injuries and player moves. The Colts will be without running back Marlon Mack (hand), which will put more work on Brissett's shoulders. The Colts Defense has given up points at times this year, and they gave up 23 in the first matchup of these teams. Brissett and the team put up 30 in that matchup, and if wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) is able to play, his ceiling shoots way up.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams might be counted upon to start the Week 12 game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 21 with RB Marlon Mack (hand) out. If Williams gets the start, it will be in the building where he had his last starting assignment in the 2014 Texas Bowl for the University of Arkansas.
Fantasy Spin: Williams went for over 100 yards last week once Mack went down, and Jordan Wilkins is coming off an ankle injury, so it's likely a good bet Williams gets first crack at the lion's share of the work. By the way, he had 105 yards in that Texas Bowl win over the Texas Longhorns, so fantasy owners hope lightning strikes twice at NRG in Week 12.
Indianapolis Colts QB Jacoby Brissett enters the Week 12 game Thursday, Nov. 21 against the Houston Texans with a 4-0 career record with seven touchdowns, no interceptions and a 107.2 passer rating, going 3-0 with the Colts and 1-0 as a member of the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Brissett will have the good fortune of not having to face J.J. Watt, since he is out for the remainder of the season, too. He's not a bad low-end QB1 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams, and it sounds like he'll have T.Y. Hilton back, too.
Indianapolis Colts WR Devin Funchess (collarbone) has not yet been activated from the Reserve/Injured list, so it is extremely unlikely he plays in Week 12 against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: Funchess hasn't shed his non-contact jersey, and the team is unlikely to rush him and risk aggravating his injury. Fantasy owners will want to see him officially return and knock off the rust, making it through a full game without any setbacks. Unfortunately for most owners, time is running out for that to happen in the fantasy regular season.
Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim Hines is still expected to see his normal role in the passing game in Week 12 against the Houston Texans, and not an increase in work despite the loss of RB Marlon Mack (hand).
Fantasy Spin: Hines will see his regular work on passing downs, but it appears Jonathan Williams and/or Jordan Wilkins will be counted upon as the workhorse back for carries.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert has been limited during practice over the last few weeks but has not missed a game. He has been held to 35 yards or less in each of the last three games and probably can be avoided in most leagues.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps), PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) and OT Joe Staley (finger) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20. DT D.J. Jones (groin) was limited during practice, while LB Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion) fully participated in practice.
San Francisco 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Sanders did not practice last week but was able to play in Week 11, so he may not do much during practice this week. He should be a starting option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (ankle, knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle has missed the last few games because of the injuries and probably will miss another game if he does not practice. Fantasy players should check on his status later in the week but will need other options available.
The Oakland Raiders Defense is coming off back-to-back stellar weeks and is in a superb spot to keep the trend going in Week 12. Led by the reigning Defensive Player of the Week Maxx Crosby, they've piled up 10 sacks and five turnovers in their last two games, helping them earn double-digit fantasy point totals in each contest. Their Jets opponent this weekend is allowing the second-most fantasy points to the D/ST position, and the third-most sacks in the league (41). Managers looking for a streaming option this week should ride the Raiders defense with confidence.