San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was extremely emotional following their 34-31 win against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night, and understandably so.
The game took place just hours after 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard’s younger brother, Clayton, was fatally stabbed outside of a bar in Nashville — putting Shanahan in a position he hasn’t been in, nor ever wanted to be in, before as a head coach.
“There's not much you can say,” Shanahan said after the win, via ESPN. “You just try to hold a person and be there for him. We tried to figure it out, what we could do and the quickest way to get him to his family. But that was probably my first time in a situation like that, but I think it's exactly what anybody would expect. There's nothing to say, and it's as tragic and as sad of a thing that can happen.
“So to me, when you try to say stuff, you're just, you're insulting the situation. It's as bad as it gets, and you just have to be there for them, and it will be a hard deal to recover from, but he's as strong as any person I've been around.”
Clayton, 22, and another man, Paul Trapeni III, 21, were stabbed in the side early on Saturday morning outside of a bar in Nashville, and later died at a local hospital. A third man was also stabbed in the incident, though was treated at a local hospital and later released.
Nashville Police said in a statement that they believe the incident started after an argument over a woman, which escalated once outside the bar. They have not yet made an arrest.
Do you know this man wanted for questioning in the double fatal stabbings of Clayton Beathard, 22, & Paul Trapeni III, 21, during a fight early Sat. involving multiple persons outside Dogwood Bar, 1907 Division St? Please call 615-742-7463 if you recognize him. pic.twitter.com/nESVyw5UGy— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 21, 2019
Shanahan didn’t talk to the team much about it before the game. He didn’t know what to say. He did, though, give an emotional speech after the win.
“I didn't know what to say to you guys at the beginning of the day, because you guys know what happened last night,” Shanahan told his team. “Having to go spend an hour with C.J. last night and just being with him during that, you guys know how tough it is for him and his family right now.
“He was like any one of us would have been: distraught, struggling to talk. He barely could talk, and he said to me, 'You guys go make sure you win this game.' And I didn't want to say that at the beginning because this game doesn't mean anything compared to his brother. … He’s got our backs, just like we have his. It was a special day for you guys, and I'm so glad you guys could do that for him.”
For the Beathard family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Td26FyOEND— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 22, 2019
Several players were moved to tears after the game, too — including tight end George Kittle, who played with C.J. at Iowa and knew Clayton well.
“[Clayton] honestly reminded me a lot of myself," Kittle said, via ESPN. “He was just a ball of positivity. Everything he did, he had so much fun doing. He was identical to C.J. and Tucker, and the fact that he was the most competitive person I've ever met, whether we were playing hoops, target practice, anything that we did was so competitive, and he always had so much fun doing it. He was really just a positive light in the world and it will definitely not be a better place without him.”
The 49ers solidified their win at Levi’s Stadium after a late 46-yard reception to Emmanuel Sanders, which set up a game-winning field goal from Robbie Gould.
The win is huge for San Francisco’s playoff quest, too. Their matchup next week against the Seattle Seahawks will decide the winner of the NFC West. Should the 49ers win, they will take the No. 1 seed in the NFC — which would give them a huge postseason advantage. A loss drops them all the way down to the No. 6 seed.
However that victory was masked by tragedy — one that will likely stick with members of the organization through the end of the season, if not longer.
Once C.J. returns to the team, whenever that may be, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said they’re ready to do whatever they can to help him.
“I can't even fathom or even try to even get there in my mind, but you hurt for him because you know that it is pain. You know it's loss,” Sherman said, via ESPN.
“And as a teammate you try to do everything you can to be there and all we can do is win. ... That's all we can give him right now. If that gives him any kind of solace, if that gives him any kind of smile or anything during this very tough time, that's all we can do. When he comes back, we'll be there for him. We'll be in his corner, we'll talk to him, we'll stay with him. We'll be there for him as much as we can but there's no way you can quantify that. Football is a game, it's a game kids play, it's not that important. What he lost is something that's irreplaceable. That's family.”
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