San Francisco Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, who doubles as the 49ers' offensive coordinator, isn't game-planning against QB Sam Darnold and the Jets offense, still thinks the Green & White has its franchise signal-caller.
"I've watched him a lot whether it was college or last week's game," Shanahan said. "I'm a big fan of Sam's. He's a very good player. He's going to have a very good career in this league. He makes a lot of plays. If you're not on your stuff, if you let him get comfortable back there, he'll pick you apart as good as any quarterback. He can throw it very well and he sees the field extremely well. We have to make sure not to let him get comfortable because when he does, he'll show everyone why he's that good."
Darnold, 23, is in his second season with Head Coach Adam Gase as they try to build off their 7-9 record and 6-2 second half in 2019. Shanahan was in a situation similar situation to Gase's – trying to change an organization's culture. Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch were hired in 2017 and the Niners went 10-22 in their first two years together. San Francisco won the NFC title and played in the Super Bowl with a 13-3 record last season.
"When you're starting out and you take over a team and turn over the hump, it's always a challenge," Shanahan said. "You have to change the culture, you have to find a way to win. There's lots of ups and downs going through that and I've been through that plenty of times. You have to block out the noise, stick to what you believe in and keep training those guys to do it in one direction."
Shanahan added: "Adam has been great with quarterbacks, they all like working for him. He's a guy who players can carry conversations with and it's not just a one-way street. I know Adam is working his tail off to help improve things around Sam. You guys have to be patient with both of them, they'll end up coming through."
Darnold, who threw for 215 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in Week 1, will be without running back Le'Veon Bell for the next three weeks. Bell was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday because of the hamstring injury he sustained at Buffalo. He was kept out of the second half. Frank Gore, as a result, will become the primary back in Sunday's home opener against the team that drafted him in 2005.
"I love Frank Gore," Shanahan said. "I think he's one of the best running backs to ever play. I think he's one of the more underrated running backs to every play. His longevity and his numbers now have finally given him a little more attention that is past due. … I remember watching him out of Miami as I was a quality control coach at Tampa. He's a stud. I loved him then, I love him every year. He runs so hard. The guys that ran that hard very rarely can play to his age, which shows how dedicated he is and how much of a football player he is. Obviously extremely talented. He's a special dude."
It's hard to find a current NFL player or coach who doesn't look up to or respect Gore, 37, because of his success and longevity. He's the NFL's No. 3 career rushing leader with 15,347 yards and he's had at least 500 yards in 15 straight seasons.
"I've seen clips of Frank Gore," 49ers RB Jerrick McKinnon said. "His one-cut ability is amazing. He puts that foot in the ground and explodes. The thing that obviously sticks out with him, obviously he's a future Hall of Famer, but his consistency over the years. He comes in there, does the same thing and gets the job done."