General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – February 1, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
We spoke to QB Brock Purdy yesterday and he mentioned getting some more images done yesterday afternoon. Any clarity coming out of that as far as what kind of surgery he’s going to have, how long he’ll be out?
General Manager John Lynch: “Yeah, I think he’s continuing to get some different opinions, talk to different people, which I think is smart in an instance like this, there’s a lot of smart people out there. You want to make sure you’re thorough. He’s continuing to go through that process. I think the positive bit of news is that it seems to be consistent that the right approach is that one that takes about that six-month mark. Now, everybody will also say you never know until you get in there. Every surgeon will tell you that on every surgery, you always like getting in to see exactly. The MRI tells you a lot of the pictures, so they’re continuing to work through that process, but we seem encouraged by the prognosis that that’s kind of where it’s at.”
By the six month one, you mean the internal brace one?
If it is six months, that means that he’d probably be back in time for training camp, if that’s the situation. Are you content enough with Brock and QB Trey Lance being the top two guys going into training camp or would you be looking for a high-profile veteran?
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan: “No, we’re content enough.”
Are there comparisons on quarterbacks who have come back from this kind of surgery about how long it takes before they get fine motor skills back on different passes? With pitchers, they talk about curveball control, I don’t know what the comp is?
KS: “That was the coolest thing for me to hear about that once three months is over, they start the rehab of just building the arm back slowly, and by six months it’s built back. And that’s when I started asking questions, does that mean ease him in? When you think of ACLs and they said, no, the buildups been from three-to-six and at six months, he is the same dude and full go, so that was the most encouraging part that I heard.”
Trey said that he expects to be medically cleared in the next three-to-four weeks, so that what you’re expecting, that he’ll be full go come OTAs or will you be easing him in?
KS: “It sounds like he’ll be pretty close around phase one, phase two. OTAs is the third phase, which I think that is five weeks after phase one, so we’ll see in phase one, they’re saying right around that time, so hopefully we’ll be able to ease him in with drill work and things like that. And then by OTAs, he’ll be able to go.”
With Brock, where is your mind right now as far as how you’re going to approach the quarterback situation this offseason with Brock and his rehab and where Trey is. How do you expect to handle this leading into training camp?
KS: “I don’t think there’s much to handle. One guy can’t go and the other guy should be ready for OTAs, so OTAs haven’t been that consistent over the last three, four years since COVID. They keep being a little bit more different each year, so it’s not as big of a deal as it used to be, but it sounds we will at least have one guy for it.”
Will Brock be the starter in training camp if he’s healthy, or will there be a competition between him and Trey?
KS: “Those are things I haven’t even thought about at all, so right now we’re just working on coaches and I think that stuff will play itself out by training camp.”
I know this is hypothetical, but when you say you are content with those two guys, does that mean you would not be looking at signing a starter-level veteran at all?
KS: “I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with, so when you have that situation, you’re not that eager to go looking around.”
These are two guys who are coming off injuries and one of them has been hurt previously. Isn’t that a little bit of a risk when you have just gone through four quarterbacks?
KS: “It always is, but when a quarterback gets his arm bent backwards and stuff, I think anybody gets hurt from that, it’s unfortunate when quarterbacks get hurt, but you try to have three, sometimes you bring four into camp, but I don’t think we’re going to start having five or anything like that. Brock did a pretty good job being durable all year and they got his elbow in an unfortunate situation, which I think has happened a number of quarterbacks. Going back to, I don’t know exactly, but when you look at [former NFL QB Drew] Brees, I don’t know if that was shoulder or elbow that he [John Lynch] did on the last play of the year. Yeah, there’s lots of situations like that and you look at the recovery timeline and the good thing—[Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew] Stafford, I don’t know if that was from an impact thing or if that just built up over time, but I know he went through some of that stuff last offseason and that affected him a little bit into this year, but the good thing about Brock is that wasn’t an issue. It was a freak accident that I think everyone saw what happened. And when you talk to the doctors, it takes three months to really get back to repairing it and building it up the right way and in six months, he’ll be the same guy.”
Is there a scenario in which you guys can see QB Jimmy Garoppolo being back and if so, what would that look like?
KS: “No, I don’t see any scenario of that.”
[NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Troy Vincent mentioned the possibility of bringing back the third quarterback rule, with a roster spot on gameday for a third quarterback. Is that something, after what you guys went through Sunday, you guys would be in favor of or would it be helpful?
KS: “Yeah, I definitely would be in favor of it. We were scared to death when that rule ended, whatever many years ago that was, but you kind of forget about it since you just don’t see anyone have to go through it, but then you get reminded of how quickly a football game is over once that happens, so I think that would be a very smart thing to have.”
JL: “I think it’d be good for football, you’re always trying to develop these guys, but you’re always weighing that carrying three as opposed to the roster value of being able to host a full complement of position players at different positions, so I think if the league just kind of gave you an out there, everybody would be forced to do it. You have more people in camps improving, I think it’d be good for football.”
Obviously, you will add another or two quarterbacks. What’s the profile of the kind of quarterback, whether veteran or a rookie, undrafted? What’s the profile of the guy that you want to come in here along with Trey and Brock?
KS: “The best available that can fit into the structure of our team and the salary cap and all that, but the best one available.”
What were your guys reactions when you saw that Former NFL QB Tom Brady announced that he wasn’t going to play any further for any other team?
JL: “Yeah, I just think respect, appreciation to one of the greatest players to ever play this game and I’m always humbled by the fact that we work for an organization that I think touts some guys who fit into that category with [HOF DB] Ronnie [Lott] and [HOF QB] Steve [Young], [HOF QB] Joe [Montana], [HOF WR] Jerry [Rice] obviously that are in that conversation as well, but that’s rarefied air and I got to compete against him as a player. I got to broadcast games as a broadcaster, and now to see that he’s still going, it just blows my mind what he’s done. It’s unparalleled and I think he’s one of the greats ever to do it, so respect and appreciation and admiration for an unbelievable career.”
Will you be the general manager in 2023?
JL: “I plan on being here. I really do and I’m committed to doing this and I’m having a great time doing it and committed to finding a way to get a little bit better. I’m really proud of what we were able to do this year. That’s hard to say because our expectations and our standards were to win the whole thing, but I do think in life you have to be able to acknowledge that even when the end result isn’t what you wanted, that some special things happened. I’m proud of the team we built. I can’t say enough about the job Kyle and his coaching staff did. I’ve got a lot of respect for our players, the way they handled themselves and it’s hard to win a game in this league, let alone 12 straight and unfortunately in the last game, it just wasn’t in the cards and I think that will always be there, this feeling. And first of all, let me just say it all due respect to Philly, they’re a fantastic football team, a really well-built team, and they came out and competed hard, but I’d love to be able to take them on with that same team we had and be able to do it with a full complement and some other things, but that wasn’t in the cards on that day. I’ll still look back on this season with fond memories. Now our challenge, and this is all fresh, we’re doing closeout meetings, as Kyle said, dealing with coaches, I’m upstairs with the position coaches doing what we call our mine meetings where we, it’s an exit interview where we take a holistic look at all our players and so this is still very fresh. But our job now is to find a way to get better and there’s challenges to that, but that’s what we’ll do. I’m committed, our ownership is committed and Kyle and I are committed to finding a way to get better and that’s exactly what we plan on doing. It’s just hard to conceptualize that because you’re still stuck in this season. In due time, we’ll move forward.”
I know defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans just left yesterday, but where are you in the search for your next defensive coordinator? What are you looking for?
KS: “I’m in the middle of it. I love DeMeco one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around, best people I’ve ever been around. Him and Jamila mean the world to us and I really wish they weren’t going, but it’s more than deserved and more than earned. And I think they made the best hire by far that was available because DeMeco is going to be a great one. He already has been. I love our defensive staff, I love our defense. I’m trying to get something where we don’t have to turn much over. I would love to keep our same staff, so I’m going to talk to some guys on our staff. I’m going to talk to some guys outside of our staff and hopefully whichever way we decide to go, whether we bring in a new guy or not, that it’s someone who can work with who we have and what we’ve accomplished here because I love the scheme that we run and I feel the foundation we have on the D-line, at linebacker, at corner, at safety, I think our players fit very well in it too, so I’m hoping to find someone who fits with us personality-wise and scheme wise.”
Will DeMeco take any assistant coaches with him?
KS: “Too early to know. I know he loves our staff and he knows I’m working through that too right now, so DeMeco and I will be probably talking a lot here over the next two weeks and I’m just trying to do what’s best for the 49ers. I know he is trying to do what’s best for Houston and we’re both going to try to do what’s best for all the families involved too with our number one job being to do it for the organizations.”
Do you take players opinions into consideration when looking for DeMeco’s replacement?
“Yeah, any player who’s got a strong opinion, who wants to reach out and tell me something, I would more than welcome it and appreciate it.”
Which coaches have you given permission to seek employment elsewhere or coordinator spots?
KS: “None. When I say none it’s more—”
JL: “A lot of these instances too at that position, it’s a notification. It’s not a request for permission. It’s a notification.”
KS: “If someone gives you a notification for a promotion, especially for that coordinator level, it’s not up to us.”
So offensive passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik and assistant head coach/running backs Anthony Lynn?
“Yeah, Bobby and Anthony. Yeah, they were requested yesterday.”
I know it’s still very fresh, but have you had a chance at all, just to kind of reflect on the season and everything you guys went through and where you ended up?
KS: “Yeah, a little bit. I’m so proud of our year and proud of the guys and I think, we’ve been close a few times here, but this was definitely the one that felt the best. I thought some of the things we overcame early, how we persevered, going 98 straight days without a loss was a different feeling that I hadn’t been a part of. It didn’t totally feel like that until we lost and someone told me that and I was like, yeah, that makes it hurt a little bit worse. I just loved how focused our guys were. Our guys never ever any day just checked out and that’s really tough in this league and the physical strain obviously, but the mental strain of just mentally being up for something to focus every single day to get a plan in, to focus for three and a half hours on how to win a game and to do it a bunch in different ways and that’s why I felt like we did it week in and week out and that’s why I had such respect for our players, everyone in the building, that could do that and handle that pressure because that that wears on people. It’s a little bit too long and that’s why I’m so proud of the record that we had, where not one team who played us won the next week. For the league to go 0-16 after playing us, I feel like people got up to play us with that focus because they knew they better, but it was really hard for them to do that two weeks in a row. And for our players and the staff to demand a lot out of those guys and those guys to do it for us every single week. I just had so much love for them. I think that was the hardest part about the game because we’ve lost before and all of those are bad. There’s not one where I’m like, that’s not the worst thing. They all take time, but it was just a little bit of a different feeling because our guys from Sunday night in the locker room verse Dallas to Monday when I talked to them to Wednesday’s practice to Friday to Saturday, everyone was so ready for that moment. Again, not to take anything away from Philly, I just didn’t feel like they got the chance to totally compete and that was kind of just hard to stomach and it was cool to keep watching them fight. I don’t think it hit them until the end, really what was going on because those guys were just going like they had all year, but I think that was kind of the hardest thing and it’s been the hardest thing, but hey, it’s life. That’s what we sign up for in this sport and yeah, you have to grieve that a little bit because of all the stuff you put into it, but the thing that helps me the most is you I know how we’re going to be next year. I know how I’m going to be personally like I am every year. Not at this moment, but when it comes, you’re fired up and confident and ready to go and I know I’ll be like that and I know our team will be like that because you make sure you get that way anyways in this profession, but when you do look at a roster, you look at the people coming back. It’s going to be really tough losing DeMeco, but I have a lot of confidence in everyone else in our building from coaches to upstairs with John and I know what we’re going to have coming back, so we have to take our time a little, grieve this a little bit, but man, I’m pumped for next year.”
On that point, yesterday T Trent Williams was asked about next season and even the possibility of retirement. He didn’t say no or yes. Have you talked to him? Do you expect Trent back next year?
KS: “Yeah, I do, but if everyone had to do a press conference and talk for a while after these games, I’m sure we’d say a lot of things that didn’t tell you guys exactly everything that’s going to happen for the next eight months, but I didn’t read his words as that’s a big thing for him. I know Trent loves football. I know it’s very hard at his age, in any situation to do what you do for that long and come up short, but I’d be really surprised if Trent wasn’t fired up in a few weeks.”
Where was CB Emmanuel Moseley with his rehab by the end of the year? And I believe he’s a free agent, does it complicate matters that he had this surgery with whether you bring him back or not?
JL: “E-Man is doing really well. He’s out on the field as we speak, working out here and rehabbing, doing really well. Most of the time, unless somebody’s hit a complication you typically hear doing really well, a little bit ahead of schedule because these guys are elite athletes and if you know Mose at all, his commitment to the process is going to be elite. And that’s what he’s done. He was down in L.A., rehabbing for a long time, we’ve had him back for the last couple weeks. He’s a free agent. He’s a guy we’d have interest in bringing back because of the way he plays, but also what he stands for. He’s one of us and we’d sure like to have him back.”
Quarterback injuries have been an issue the past few years. Jimmy had several, Trey has had a few, Brock has had a couple. This offseason, is this something that you feel you need to find a common denominator for or somewhat of a solution for? Or is it something that’s just bad luck that’s out of your hands?
JL: “Yeah, I really believe that’s a tough position to play in this league. I understand there’s some players who’ve had incredible durability. As Kyle said earlier, I think Brock’s been incredibly durable throughout his career. He ran into just an inopportune situation where he’s trying to throw the ball down field, and he’s got an NFL edge rusher pulling at your arm the other direction. It’s just not going to hold up, so that stinks. Trey had his issues and Trey’s had a rough go here the last couple years. He’s obviously going to have to prove that he can stay healthy, but I know there was periods of my career early on where I struggled to stay healthy, then I went eight years without missing a snap. So that happens sometimes. And yeah, I’m sure people wonder, Jimmy’s had his issues, but believe me, it’s nothing with the way we play our quarterbacks or anything. I think it’s just coincidence and we look into everything, but I don’t think we have any more of an issue than anybody else. I think that’s a tough position in this league.”
You go with two young quarterbacks as two young quarterbacks who are not making a ton of money, especially given the NFL salaries for quarterbacks. Is that a key to the way you would approach the salary cap situation going forward, like you can sign more guys, you can pay more, is that part of this whole package?
JL: “So, I don’t believe that’s the reason why you do that. The bottom line is you better have a quarterback you really believe in because it’s such an important position. There happen to be two young guys that we really like, so I think that would lead us to that more than anything. The fact of the matter is yes though and that’s why teams have a window when they have a quarterback on a rookie deal. If you look at our roster, we’ve got high-end players all over, a lot of high-end players that we’ve taken care of, but we’re able to do that and we’re still in decent cap position. In part because even with Jimmy on the roster this year, he’s not making one of those gigantic deals right now. We did our one-year thing, so yeah, I think it is something we can take advantage of if we choose to go that direction and I think with all these decisions guys, in fairness, Kyle just got done coaching a season and I don’t know anybody that pours their heart and soul more into the task at hand, but we happen to have a situation where Kyle’s really involved in every personnel decision we make. And what I try to do with my team is provide him with options, get him as much information as possible. He goes his through his process where he likes getting away with his family, but his mind is always going, and he needs a break. Everybody does after a long season like this and we’ll start the process. I think we’ve got a good one of getting together always, even when he is gone, we always seem to talk and talk about what we’re feeling, and we always come up with a pretty good plan. We’ve gotten close, and I think that that really tick us off because we believe in doing everything it takes to finish, and we’re committed to doing that. I think Niner fans should be incredibly encouraged about where this organization’s at and where we’re going. Our name is The Faithful, I want to thank all of them. I think they took Levi’s to new heights this year. I think this stadium’s really starting to have a character and identity, it’s become a tough place to play. And then Kyle and I always marvel about when we show up places, the amount of The Faithful that are there and take over stadiums, but to those people I’d ask just please hang in there. We’re working our tails off to deliver a championship and we will not stop until we do that.”
What was your summary of the high-end guys that you’ve taken care of, obviously with DL Nick Bosa coming up, will that be a similar kind of pathway to what you’ve done with guys like WR Deebo Samuel and LB Fred Warner and TE George Kittle? And also with WR Brandon Aiyuk, will you do what you did with Bosa and maybe wait a year to do something there?
JL: “Yeah, I think first of all with Nick, in my heart of hearts, he deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year in our league. And I hope that comes his way, because he’s earned that. He’s a fantastic football player, he’s a game changer of a football player. I should stop now, but everybody already knows all that. I think we have a really good track record. You look the last five years, working backwards with Deebo and before that it was Fred and Kittle and Trent and Jimmy of getting our players done, but it takes time, it takes patience, it takes persistence, and we’ll have that on our side. He’s represented by very good and capable people. And you heard Nick yesterday, he never seems to get too excited, he’s pretty chill about the whole thing and I think with that in mind and each of us wanting the same thing, we’ll be able to come to an agreement. With Brandon, Brandon had a fantastic year. I really applaud Brandon. Kyle calls him a warrior often. We appreciate the way he plays, the way he’s improved his play since he’s been here, and we’ll figure that out in due time.”
As far as supporting Nick Bosa along that defensive line, how would you summarize how DL Drake Jackson finished this year? Obviously, he was inactive last few games and there are a lot of free agents. Bookending Bosa, I know you had former NFL DL Dee Ford earlier in this tenure. How do you plan to fortify that line to get the pass rush back up to the levels that it was at in 2019?
KS: “I think Drake showed a lot this year on what he can be, but he needs to get to what he can be. I thought he was closer to that earlier in the year. It was a long season and I think he learned as a year goes, if you lose any power in this league, it gets a lot harder. And we had a decent group of rushers and I think as the year went out and towards the end, it got too long for him, and his body wasn’t quite ready for what we needed. And if we had an injury or something, we were definitely going to get him up, but we felt, towards the end of the year, better with other guys, and still he’s the exact same talent that we drafted. We’ve really enjoyed the person, but like I said to a lot of our guys in our meeting yesterday, people don’t get what anyone means by how long an NFL season is and all the college players here are coming in, is this what I hear? Is this what I hear? When’s the rookie wall? And it’s the same stuff for veterans who haven’t had to mentally strain the pressure of what you’re trying to do when you’re trying to do something more than just play your games and get to the playoffs. And I think our whole team felt that this year and so, everyone is exhausted and that’s what I want people to know going away. Yeah, good to get away, because I need to recover, but everything in these next six months is dedicated to how I can make it through that and making it through that isn’t totally natural. You can’t just show up and do that stuff and it goes for rookies more than anything, but it goes to coaches, it goes to all your players, how you sleep right, how you eat right, how you live your life, how you get all your stuff in order, so you plan for that six-to-seven month challenge that you’re going on. And I think a lot of our guys got to see that, which I think is good for them. And they all say the right things when they leave. And then we’ll see how they handle it when they come back, but when you ask about Drake, he’s got the ability to really help us, so we’re counting on him to do the right things to maximize his ability.”
With all due respect to John’s answer about quarterbacks. When you go through a season and you have four quarterbacks get hurt, does it cause you as a coach any hesitation? They’re all different, but does it give you as the person who draws up the plays, any hesitation on how you’re protecting them? How they’re handled, what you do with them?
KS: “Yeah, I think when you ask that question that way, I understand, but I think if you looked at the injuries common sense would answer that question. How have they gotten hurt? I’m sorry, [QB] Josh [Johnson] got a concussion when he hit the ground, so that’s the fourth one you’re talking about. I’m sorry our quarterback got his elbow bent backwards on a normal drop back pass. I’m sorry, on a drop back pass someone rolled up on Jimmy’s ankle. And then we have a dual-threat quarterback who got hurt running the ball. To throw all those four in that category. No quarterbacks got hurt when we had to hand it off the whole second half, so we can look into that.”