Kyle Shanahan ready for divisional battle against the ‘improved’ Dallas Cowboys

Jan 18, 2023, 1:30 PM | Updated: 2:44 pm
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on prior to a game against the Seattle Se...
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on prior to a game against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Levi's Stadium on January 14, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After beating the Seattle Seahawks handily in the wild card round, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers will now host the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday in an NFC divisional showdown.

The 49ers last saw their old rivals in the 2021 playoffs, going into Texas and knocking the Cowboys out in the Wild Card round, 23-17. Now a year removed from that dramatic outing, San Francisco isn’t taking this version of Dallas lightly, impressed by their dominant win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday night. 

“They’re a good team, they’ve been it all year,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “Probably looked at their best on Monday night, which you expected them to, just with the atmosphere and everything. But they’ve been good for a while and just watching them this week, it reminds me of their team from last year and only improved.”

The Cowboys’ defense is a big reason why, near the top of defensive metrics at getting into the backfield. They did that in round one to Tom Brady and the Bucs, with defensive end Micah Parsons producing eight pressures alone on Brady.

Dan Quinn, a familiar face to Shanahan, runs the defensive unit for Dallas. Only joining the organization in 2021, Quinn’s influence has been clear to his former offensive coordinator for some time.

“I think [it starts] with their D-line. I mean, Dan Quinn jumps off the tape to me there. The way he gets those guys to move,” Shanahan explained. “I mean, he’s got some real good rushers. Everyone knows about [DeMarcus] Lawrence and Parsons but I mean, there’s not one bad one there. The way that they stunt, the way they can create one-on-ones. There’s a reason they’re number one in getting to the quarterback with sacks and pressures, and it does jump off the tape.”

Serving under Quinn for two seasons, Shanahan admits that his former head coach has been adaptable over the years with his game plans. Previously seeing similarities with the 49ers, Quinn has changed his technique to better suit his personnel, something that makes a good coach great.

“I think Dan’s done a great job just adjusting like he always does,” Shanahan continued. “They’ve evolved a lot coverage-wise. They used to always do their three-deep [scheme] similar to ours, and now it’s more of a match three-deep, which is a little bit different. But coaching the front that same way, and getting them to play and just mixing coverages a little bit differently.”

Aside from the opponent’s scouting report, Kyle Shanahan needs to polish a few aspects of his offense as well. 

The 49ers struggled to finish drives in the first half of round 1, finding themselves trailing at the break. Whether it was missed throws, miscommunication on defense, etc., San Francisco needs to address a few things before the Cowboys come to town Sunday. 

“There’s like seven [plays that need to be fixed] probably tied. I really wanted to hit that post or [WR Deebo Samuel] across the middle. There’s a couple things on defense, one on special teams, but not going to get in to more detail than that. It’s hard not to,” Kyle Shanahan said with a grin.

Wednesday Practice Report


QB Jimmy Garoppolo (foot)

CB Ambry Thomas (ankle)


WR Jauan Jennings

DE Samson Ebukam

DT Javon Kinlaw

Click here for Kyle Shanahan’s full Wednesday presser


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