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With lessons learned from SB LI collapse, Kyle Shanahan ‘glad’ to get another title chance



SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In heading back to the Super Bowl for the first time as the San Francisco 49ers coach, Kyle Shanahan knows he will get plenty of questions about what happened the last time he was coaching in the biggest game of the year.

But the memories and lessons Shanahan has from that game might not be the ones that most expect. Instead of things like “just run the ball,” Shanahan will lead the Niners to Miami to play in Super Bowl LIV thinking more about things like ‘no lead is ever safe’ and ‘best practices in backpack protection.’

Shanahan, of course, was the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator for Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots. That was the game the Falcons led 28-3 entering the fourth quarter but eventually lost 34-28 in overtime.

Afterward, Shanahan took plenty of criticism for his late-game play calling. On Monday, he was asked how often he still thinks about that game.

“Not much at all anymore, to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said. “You do it every second in the days after, they were real tough. Losing the Super Bowl is extremely tough for everybody, especially when you have a 28-3 lead going into the fourth.

“But the way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that the way people would expect because there were definitely parts of that Super Bowl I would love to have back and I was very hard on myself. But the whole narrative of ‘if I just would have run it, we would have won,’ I know that wasn’t the case. I know what went into that game and all the stuff that happened, so that stuff didn’t bother me. You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working. I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back.”

Shanahan said he was never bothered by those criticisms and while those particular comments don’t faze Shanahan, he does acknowledge there are some things he would have liked to do over.

Specifically, the one call that still bothers Shanahan came at New England’s 23 with just under four minutes to go and Atlanta leading 28-20. Facing second-and-11, Shanahan harkened back to a late third quarter drive in which the Falcons had a second-and-1 at New England’s 32 and the run play he called was stuffed for a 1-yard loss and Atlanta was flagged for holding. That sequence forced the Falcons to throw on third down, where quarterback Matt Ryan took a sack and it knocked them out of field goal range.

Determined to do better the second time, Shanahan called for a pass and Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers dropped Ryan for a sack and a 12-yard loss. The next play provided another holding penalty and the Falcons had to punt again.

“That put us way back and (we) had to throw again to get back into it and we missed it,” Shanahan said. “But yeah, I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”

That isn’t to say Shanahan didn’t take any key lessons from his previous trip to the Super Bowl. If nothing else, that experience only reinforced to him the importance of keeping his foot on the gas, which is why he actually called a couple of passes for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win against Green Bay to ensure the Packers didn’t get a chance to claw back into the game.

“That’s why, I promise you when we’re way up in the fourth quarter on Green Bay and stuff, I know what 28 minus 3 is and I know a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter isn’t enough,” Shanahan said. “So, when we have a 14-point lead with eight minutes to go versus Green Bay, I can promise you that I think I feel from experience like the game is tied and that we don’t have a two-score lead.

“I think that’s the stuff that helps you. Sometimes I think people can tend to relax. I won’t say that I ever relaxed in that Super Bowl, especially with Tom Brady having that ball but that’s something that keeps you humble in every single moment until the game is over.”

Off the field, Shanahan even walked away from that trip with a crash course on backpack protection. After an early week media session before the game, Shanahan’s backpack went missing.

Inside, Shanahan had what he estimates to be about 48 Super Bowl tickets and “a lot” of cash from those who had given him money for those tickets. His iPad, which had the Falcons game plan on it, was also inside but he wasn’t as concerned about that knowing that everything on it was protected by passcodes.

“I had almost a panic attack,” Shanahan said. “It was gone for about an hour and a half. The whole team left me. The Patriots came in. I was walking around there looking for my backpack, running into more media people and still doing interviews past my deal and I was trying not to come off as a jerk blowing them off. I was panicked trying to find my backpack.”

Shanahan spent about 90 minutes looking for the backpack before realizing that Art Spander, a longtime Bay Area sportswriter, had left his own backpack behind. After checking to see who it belonged to, Shanahan was able to track down Spander and exchange the backpacks.

“He had it and they tried to take it off of him and he wouldn’t give it to me at first until I showed him it was mine,” Shanahan said, laughing. “I forgave him fast but I was stressed for a while.”

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Patriots offering free parking for home games



The New England Patriots are offering free parking for home games during the 2020 season, the club announced in a letter to its season-ticket members on Monday.

“In order to show our appreciation for your commitment to the Patriots during this unique season — and in acknowledgment that it will be different than any other season we have ever experienced together — we want to share that we will provide free parking in all Gillette Stadium lots this year,” the letter read. “From both a safety and convenience standpoint, we hope this will simplify one aspect of your game-day experience in 2020 and serve to express our gratitude for your support.”

There are thousands of parking spots around the Patriots’ home stadium, which produce significant revenue for owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft. The exchange of cash to enter the lots, and the potential safety hazards with COVID-19, sparked the decision to offer free parking.

The club also announced that all ticketing, and entry to the stadium, will be digital.

The Patriots continue to also offer season-ticket members at an elevated risk of COVID-19 infection the chance to skip the 2020 season and still on to their seats for the next year.

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Ben Roethlisberger’s new puppies, Dwyane Wade’s new haircut and what you missed this weekend



Here’s what you might have missed over the weekend …

The coronavirus put a halt to virtually every sport there is, but nothing, NOTHING, stops Joey Chestnut on the Fourth of July.

My stomach hurts just from reading the above — how about you?

Maybe you went fishing over the holiday weekend? But you probably didn’t do as well as Jawaan Taylor did.

That certainly looks like a catch worthy of an offensive lineman.

They don’t celebrate Independence Day across the pond, but Manchester United surely celebrated a 5-2 win over Bournemouth. Paul Pogba was not among the goal scorers, but he still made an impact — in more ways than one.

Pogba’s barber is clearly back in business.

A couple of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady — were celebrating other things over the weekend as well.

Tom’s the one in his dad’s arms, by the way, in case you couldn’t figure that out.

Fireworks are a traditional part of July Fourth celebrations, but Dwyane Wade went above and beyond this year.

Whose hair do you like better, Pogba’s or Wade’s?

And finally, if you wanted to see some real fireworks, here you go — thanks to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Hope you all had a good holiday weekend.

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Better, worse or same? Jaguars offense could be entertaining – Jacksonville Jaguars Blog



JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars were, at times, a horror show on offense in 2019.

They were also pretty entertaining and effective at times, too.

If they’re going to have any chance at all of competing for the AFC South title in 2020, they’re going to have to figure out how to be more of the latter with pretty much the same personnel, plus a couple key additions in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Chris Thompson.

There’s a new coordinator in Jay Gruden, who brings a West Coast-style attack. He’ll be the team’s fifth coordinator since 2015 and the fourth in the last three seasons. Maybe he’ll be able to generate more than the 18.8 points per game the Jaguars averaged last season.

So is the Jaguars offense going to be better, worse or the same as it was in 2019? Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the offense:


Additions: Mike Glennon (free agent), Jake Luton (draft)

Losses: Nick Foles

Returners: Gardner Minshew, Josh Dobbs

Better, worse or the same? Same

The Jaguars didn’t draft a quarterback until the sixth round, though there were rumors the team wanted to trade up into the top five. They passed on Jameis Winston and Cam Newton, and didn’t sign a veteran to replace Foles until May 8, so it’s clearly Minshew’s team. Minshew went 6-6 as a starter and had a higher passer rating and fewest interceptions of any rookie quarterback last season. The feeling is he’ll be a good fit in Gruden’s offense. This is his chance to prove that he can be the team’s long-term starter.

Running back

Additions: Nathan Cottrell (undrafted free agent), Connor Slomka (undrafted free agent), Tavien Feaster (undrafted free agent), James Robinson (undrafted free agent), Chris Thompson (free agent)

Losses: Jeremy McNichols

Returners: Ryquell Armstead, Leonard Fournette, Devine Ozigbo

Better, worse, or the same? Better

Fournette had a bounce-back season in 2019, compiling 1,674 yards from scrimmage and leading the Jaguars in rushing and receptions. He only scored three TDs and struggled in the red zone and the Jaguars need him back to his rookie form in that area (10 TDs). Thompson should help significantly as a third-down back, which should take some of that burden off Fournette. Armstead and Ozigbo flashed in the 2019 season finale when Fournette was out, which was encouraging.

Wide receiver

Additions: Laviska Shenault (draft), Collin Johnson (draft), Josh Hammond (undrafted free agent), Marvelle Ross (undrafted free agent), Terry Godwin (free agent)

Losses: None

Returners: C.J. Board, DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, Michael Walker, Dede Westbrook

Better, worse or the same? Same

Chark had a breakout season and made the Pro Bowl, Conley set a career high with 47 catches last season and Westbrook caught 66 passes despite playing the season with a bad shoulder. That’s a good nucleus. Cole came on at the end of the year after not getting much time early and he gives the Jaguars four reliable, experienced targets. It will be interesting to see what the team does with Shenault, their second-round pick. Coach Doug Marrone wants to use him as a running back, receiver, tight end and Wildcat quarterback, but that will depend on how well Shenault assimilates the new offense despite having only a virtual offseason. It might be best to temper expectations for Shenault and all rookies because of that.

Tight end

Additions: Tyler Eifert (free agent), Tyler Davis (draft), Ben Ellefson (undrafted free agent)

Losses: Ben Koyack, Seth DeValve, Nick O’Leary

Returners: James O’Shaughnessy, Josh Oliver, Charles Jones

Better, worse or the same:? Better

Eifert played a full season in 2019 for the first time in his career (he played 15 games as a rookie in 2013 but missed 52 games from 2014-18). If he stays healthy, the Jaguars will have a legitimate threat at the position for the first time since Julius Thomas caught 46 passes in 2015. O’Shaughnessy had emerged as the top tight end early last season but suffered a torn ACL in Week 5. The team was really high on Oliver as a rookie last season but hamstring and back injuries limited him to just four games. He has a lot to prove. There’s better depth at the position than the Jaguars have had in a long time.

Offensive line

Additions: Ben Bartch (draft), Steven Nielsen (undrafted free agent), Tre’Vour Wallace-Sims (undrafted free agent)

Losses: Cedric Ogbuehi

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