New 49ers Leadership Culture Embraces Competition - NBC Bay Area
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New 49ers Leadership Culture Embraces Competition

Shanahan and Lynch have brought in players to challenge incumbent starters at multiple positions

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    New 49ers Leadership Culture Embraces Competition
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    Veteran Daniel Kilgore (above) has been the 49ers' starting center, but will be challenged this offseason by former Ravens standout Jeremy Zuttah. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

    Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have something in common with Jim Harbaugh.

    When Harbaugh was head coach of the 49ers, he preached the value of competition for starting jobs. He wanted to bring in more talent each year to challenge existing starters.

    “Iron sharpens iron,” he used to say.

    Now Shanahan, entering his first season as a head coach, and rookie general manager John Lynch have the same attitude. In the midst of organized team activities (OTAs), the two 49ers leaders have brought in such veterans as center Jeremy Zuttah to challenge Daniel Kilgore, veteran Tim Hightower and rookie Joe Williams to battle running back Carlos Hyde and rookie Reuben Foster, who could challenge Malcolm Smith – or even NaVorro Bowman -- at a linebacker spot.

    In fact, Shanahan – as an incoming coach – is getting his first extended look at the entire roster and trying to move pieces around to get the best results.

    “Competition brings out the best in everyone,” Shanahan told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “All we have to go off of is watching tape from what they’ve done in the past. We want to balance everyone out, give everyone opportunities at each position. We need to see for ourselves, doing what we’re asking them to do, the techniques and the schemes and find out what the best place is for guys. There’s a number of guys we’re moving around.”

    Kilgore, who could win the job at center or move to guard, said he welcomes the challenge because it’s the best thing for the team.

    “They want a mentality of competition, a mentality of coming to work, taking care of your business, but also taking care of your body,” Kilgore told Wagoner. “You’ll see a lot of new faces, trainers, weight staff, strength staff, they’re big on taking care of your body and being a pro. Not to say that past staffs weren’t like that. It’s just a lot more intense with this staff.”

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