Kyle Shanahan delivers harsh yet real words to 49ers ahead of game vs. Bucs

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Before sending his players off for their bye week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan left them with some harsh words.

“It wasn’t a threat or anything,” Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

Shanahan, in essence, told the players that when they come back for the final six games of the season, they all are playing for their jobs. The 49ers want to see which players are capable of leading a turnaround next season. The others will not be back in 2019, he warned.

“It’s just the reality of this business,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes you feel you shouldn’t have to say it because you’d think everybody would know that. But whether it’s just three guys who don’t or five guys who don’t, I want everyone to know what we’re thinking.”

The 49ers (2-8) return to the playing field Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7). The game will have no impact on the NFL season – other than to help set the draft order.

[RELATED: Four 49ers players to watch vs. Bucs]

But that is not the way Shanahan wants his team approaching the final six games of the season, beginning with the practices this week that led up to the Week 12 road game.

“If that’s what you think, you are on your way out," the coach said. 'And I don’t just mean the Niners. I mean the NFL. It’s very hard to be successful if that’s how you think.

“We have everything to play for. This is our livelihood. It’s our organization. It’s our careers. And I want to know who’s going to be a part of this, because we are going to turn this around. I know where we’re going, and I want to find out who’s going with us.”

It is not uncommon for Shanahan to challenge particular individuals to see how they respond to higher expectations. He wants to see more production from the team’s young, promising players, including wide receiver Dante Pettis and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, both of whom figure to be around for a while.

Other players on the lower end of the roster also will be under the microscope, as the 49ers enact an offseason plan to improve the quality of their starters and the depth of the backups.

Shanahan said what he will remember most about this season are the final games.

“All these decisions when free agency comes up, when trades come up, when the draft comes up, all this stuff comes into play,” Shanahan said. “I promise, you remember the end of the year a lot more than the beginning."

“I want guys to show us that they’re just not happy to be here and be in the NFL. That’s not enough. I want to people who show they want to change things. And the way you do that is you fight to get better every single practice, every single game.”

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