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The 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan respond to the “rest versus rust” debate and how he will approach roster decisions ahead of the Week 18 game

Jan 2, 2024 #Kyle Shanahan

Shanahan weighs decision between rest and rust ahead of 49ers’ playoff run, originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers did their job last weekend and were rewarded with the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

But even after getting that job (which comes with a first-round bye in the playoffs), 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan still has some important decisions to make before Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

By maintaining the top seed, the 49ers can rest key starters, including running back Christian McCaffrey, who suffered a minor right calf injury during last week’s 27-10 win over the Washington Commanders on two consecutive weeks before the first play-off match.

But is there such a thing as too much rest for a 49ers team trying to maintain momentum heading into the playoffs?

Speaking with reporters during a conference call Monday, Shanahan was asked about the “rest versus rust” debate and how he will approach roster decisions ahead of the Week 18 game.

“I think it can be tough, but it’s not just about playing, it’s about how much you practice and everything,” Shanahan said.

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“You have to make sure you prepare for competitions by practicing. We have a Sunday game this week. When you give boys the freedom to play, the practice changes too.

This can end up being very detrimental to boys and you will end up developing bad habits. I saw that it cost a lot of teams.

“It also gives some men a chance to be healthy. If you do that and include people, then some of the names you mentioned, but also others, will have to do a lot more because you are only removing two people from a training group. …

You give players a break and sometimes that leads to more players getting injured. That’s all there is to balance, and that’s why there’s no clear decision for anything.

You have to look at each individual in each situation and play it out during the week.When asked if the 49ers would be willing to opt out of some players for Sunday’s game, Shanahan said no decisions had been made yet and there wouldn’t be as many official inactives since San Francisco still had 48 players to replace on match day. Despite the debate over the potential pros and cons of a first-round bye, Shanahan undoubtedly sees it as a significant advantage given the recent history of the top seeds representing their respective conferences in the Super Bowl.
“Yes, yes. “Every game in the NFL is so tough,” Shanahan said. “It’s just a big deal being at home, but also if you can win the first game, it’s only ‘one game away from the big game. “That’s why I think the percentages have always been around 75 percent since numbers 1 and 2, I think, as far as teams go. I think it’s always been that way, because those guys were always the first to say hello. I think that changed last year when only the [No.] 1 seeds got them. “

So a mix of 49ers starters and reserves will close out the 2023 regular season Sunday against the Rams before a much-needed week off ahead of a crucial divisional round playoff game on Jan. 20 or 21 at Levi’s Stadium.

When asked if the 49ers would be willing to opt out of some players for Sunday’s game, Shanahan said no decisions had been made yet and there wouldn’t be as many official inactives since San Francisco still had 48 players to replace on match day.

Despite the debate over the potential pros and cons of a first-round bye, Shanahan undoubtedly sees it as a significant advantage given the recent history of the top seeds representing their respective conferences in the Super Bowl.

“Yes, yes. “Every game in the NFL is so tough,” Shanahan said. “It’s just a big deal being at home, but also if you can win the first game, it’s only ‘one game away from the big game.

“That’s why I think the percentages have always been around 75 percent since numbers 1 and 2, I think, as far as teams go.

I think it’s always been that way, because those guys were always the first to say hello. I think that changed last year when only the [No.] 1 seeds got them. “

So a mix of 49ers starters and reserves will close out the 2023 regular season Sunday against the Rams before a much-needed week off ahead of a crucial divisional round playoff game on Jan. 20 or 21 at Levi’s Stadium.

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