SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — When it comes to winning, few teams in professional sports could match the run the Golden State Warriors had as the last decade came to a close.
And among those admiring the run of five straight NBA Finals appearances and three league titles was San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
“I’ve just always have been a fan of them even before I got here,” he told reporters on Wednesday as his team was preparing for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game showdown with the Green Bay Packers. “Just watching how they play.”
Of particular interest was the unselfishness of the teams stars — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala.
“I remember saying in Atlanta even when we there that I wanted a receivers group to be similar to the Warriors where who knows who the starter is,” he said. “They all play. Andre Igoudala … I think he wasn’t the starter in the conference finals of whatever it’s called — the NBA Championship MVP — the seven games that matter at the end.”
“You got an MVP, defensive MVP, you just got guys who seem to really not care how it gets done, they all just go out there and ball,” Shanahan’s riff continued. “See where the weakness in the defense is and wherever that ends up, that guy shoots.”
Then with as sly smile, Shanahan concluded with, “That’s a lot of how I see offense.”
All season long, the 49ers have successfully probed opposing defenses with a variety of motion and wrinkles to just a handful of offensive sets. Then once Shanahan senses a weakness, he jabs at the defense until it finally shows it can come up with a stop.
You need to look no farther than San Francisco’s NFC Divisional win over Minnesota. Following a Richard Sherman interception at the Vikings’ 44 yard line, the 49ers ran eight straight plays ending with Tevin Coleman’s 2-yard touchdown dash.
For the game, San Francisco ran the ball a stunning 47 times for 186 yards. Of those plays, 26 running plays were outside the left tackle or right tackle.
Shanahan had discovered a weakness and exploited it just like the Warriors did in their championship years.
“That’s what I’m proud of with [quarterback] Jimmy [Garoppolo] and proud of our team, you can’t really say that we have to win a game a certain way,” he said. “I think we have shown we can win in a number of different ways … I know Jimmy doesn’t care how we win it. Whether we are running it, throwing it.”