Shedding Light on the Urgency: Kyle Shanahan Reveals the Need to Hasten Preparation for Thursday Night Football

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s reward for an unexpectedly tight Week 2 win over the Rams was to get ready for the next train that was already rolling down the tracks.

The 49ers host the Giants on Thursday night, roughly 96 hours after the conclusion of their victory in L.A.

Shanahan was asked by reporters on Tuesday whether the preparation is rushed by a Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround.

“You feel extremely rushed,” Shanahan said. “I saw the players a few hours ago and it was the first time I saw them. I told them it was Wednesday morning and by the end of our first meeting, it was Thursday. . . . Tomorrow morning is Friday but by 10 o’clock it’s the day before the game. So, it’s weird.

“We’re throwing four days into two days, as a coaching staff we throw two days into one day. So it’s kind of a ‘something’ show as we do it, but then it’s about retaining it when it slows down. We’ve got to put them all through it, the players. So we just throw it all at them, we go on and walk through it twice, we go watch it. Then it’ll slow down at night when they leave. But that’s usually about sleeping and catching up.

“Then tomorrow kind of when you get to the hotel it’s like now it’s normal even though it’s not. But now it’s Saturday night and slow it down a little bit. I always love that Thursdays are night games because I think it’s important on the day of the game to kind of review your whole week, which is the day before on all the stuff that came in so you don’t hesitate in the game.”

The inability of coaching staffs to fully prepare can contribute to the periodic “poofest” quality of Thursday night games. Also, injured players who might have been ready on Sunday sometimes aren’t ready on Thursday.

The league’s mantra regarding short-week football is that the injury rate is no different on Sundays than it is on Thursdays. That’s a red herring. It’s not about injuries that happen during the game. It’s about teams — players and coaches — being ready to play.

Based on Shanahan’s explanation, they’re as ready as they’re going to be. But they clearly could be more ready. More rested. More prepared. More effective.

Regardless, the ship has sailed on the Thursday night debate. It’s here to stay. The only question that remains is when (not if) the NFL starts playing on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, too.

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