General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – July 25, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
Are you putting anybody on PUP today?
JL: “No. So you guys all saw the news with [DB] Darrell Luter Jr. He was put on at an earlier date. To come, now we still have physicals, but to come, [P] Mitch Wishnowsky could be a guy that would actually go on NFI. He tweaked his back just lifting weights away from here. And so, he may be an NFI situation, which is really the same rules as a PUP. Just didn’t do it here.”
Specifically, QB Brock Purdy?
JL: No, Brock is cleared and ready to go. He’s been cleared. He going to be without restrictions. Now, having said that we’re sticking and we’re adhering to a plan that’s been put in place for some time. He got after it the last couple of days, we upped his pitch count, so it was kind of the peak of the buildup, and so, he’ll take off day one. But we believe in that plan. So, he’s cleared without restriction. There will be some time off, you know, due to pitch count and all that, sticking to the plan. But the great news is Brock has worked his tail off and he’s ready to go.”
Will he be the quarterback who takes the first reps with this team? Will he be running with the first-team offense?
KS: He will when he is out there. The throwing plan is a little different. We’re never going to have him go three days in a row. And so, like today, he threw just with his schedule from the weekend and everything. So today he threw, so tomorrow he won’t practice. So, the other guys will do the same thing as OTAs. They’ll both go with the ones. And then Brock will have practices two and three to go, then he’ll take the next one off. So, keep going that way.”
The timeframe that was cited was three months, you know, a three-month ramp up program. It’s been two months since he started throwing. I mean, obviously, but is it safe to say that he’s ahead of schedule?
JL: You know, Dr. Meister, everybody had always said, now remember, we’re speaking in timelines. These are guidelines, but there’s markers along the way. He’s continued to hit his markers. And, you know, to the point where Dr. Meister, [49ers team doctor] Dr. McAdams, they felt comfortable. Our guys felt comfortable. A lot of that’s a testament to Brock and his work ethic, some good genes, and I think it’s all good news.”
Is there a timeframe for when he’ll be just full go, you know, three days in a row, keep going like normal?
KS: “Yeah, I think the goal is a couple of weeks from now. I haven’t looked that far past. We won’t change that until that happens and as long as it keeps staying on the course, then he’ll eventually go all the days.”
As far as a quarterback tomorrow, will it be like the spring where you’ll alternate QB Sam Darnold and QB Trey Lance with the ones?
KS: “Most likely. We’re going to go through that this afternoon as the coaches, so that is most likely what we’re going to do. But hope you guys allow me to change my mind if we do it differently, but we’ll make sure it’s even for them, whether we split it up that one day or we give one one practice and the guy the next one that Brock’s not there.”
Are you guys going three days on one day off this year, this summer?
KS: “Yeah, that was our goal last year too. But the NFL had a mandatory welcome back to NFL practice that was on our fourth day, so we didn’t have a choice. So, we only did four in a row, the first four because of that mandatory back to work, I guess, that everyone did. We don’t have that this time, so we’re able to do three the whole time.”
Where do things stand with DL Nick Bosa and his extension?
JL: “So look, everybody’s reporting today, 12:30 is our first kind of event as a team. That will be our conditioning test, our tempo run as we call it. I’ve seen various players, but have not seen Nick. And I would expect he’s not here to start off. We’re working, we’re having really good communication with [NFL player agent] Brian Ayrault. He’s got good, competent people that we have an immense amount of respect for working for him and we’re working diligently to try to come to an agreement. I think the challenges, you’re talking about a real special player, you’re talking about one of the better players in the league. You could argue that could simplify things, but I think at times it’s just finding that sweet spot and where is the right spot and we’re committed to working towards that. I just spoke with Brian this morning. You know, we’re also committed, you guys might’ve heard [Bengals owner]Mike Brown today. We’re going to keep things private. I always appreciated that as a player. I feel like there’s some sanctity to those things. You don’t want everything being aired out. And so, we’ve agreed with Brian and Nick to keep our dealings private. So, I think that’s the extent of what I’ll say. And when there’s updates, we’ll give them to you.”
Do you expect him to practice, get on the field and practice with his teammates without a new contract?
KS: “I wouldn’t, that would surprise me.”
That’s a mutual decision? Coach, team, and the player?
JL: “We want all our players to be here. We got a pretty good track record of having our guys here and done with contracts. So, like I said, this one may be perhaps a little more complex and no timelines there, but I tell you that we’re working hard. We have good communication and we got to keep doing that. And the interest is mutual.”
There has been a trend of players holding in. Is there an expectation that he might show up but then not practice?
KS: “I think it’s different in his situation because he doesn’t, I forget what the fifth-year option or whatever, he’s not getting fined $50,000 a day. So, he’s not in that same situation.”
Trey Lance, since he has been back, did you talk to him throughout his work with private quarterbacks coach Jeff Christensen?
KS: “Yeah. Trey and I will FaceTime here and there over the 40 days away. Trey’s in a great spot. He’s pumped to be back feeling as good as he has, and he had a great OTAs and is really excited to get started for this.”
Did you guys tell Trey to work with Jeff Christensen, recommend Jeff Christensen or did Trey find him on his own?
KS: “No, he found him on his own. We never really pick who they work with. They all have different guys.”
Can you describe what you’ve seen out of Brock and his throwing, just the velocity of it, and you said you’d ramp him up, so what are you seeing from him so far?
KS: “We don’t get to see a lot because we’re not out there in person with him. But I get videos sent to me all the time in my 40 days away and I’m allowed to watch from my window, so I got to see that pretty good this morning. He looks like Brock and that’s when you, talking to like quarterbacks who’ve had this and stuff before like I remember talking to [former NFL quarterback] Steve Beuerlein and he had this and it was so scary, but kind of what he told me is, how it usually goes, it’s a clean thing even though it takes a while, but they always say like, six to nine months because it is clean and if everything goes right and you do all your stuff, I just remember him telling me that it most likely would be like that because it was for him. Just watching Brock go through it and watching all the steps and the milestones that he had to get to and watching him throw every day, it looked like that. I always thought in my mind, just so I wouldn’t be disappointed, it would take a few weeks in camp, but he always looked like he would be ready because you didn’t see any setbacks and just talking to other guys, that’s how it ended up. Watching it on our own, I thought it would go that way, but you don’t really say that. You wait to hear it from Brock and to get back and talk to him last week and just to hear how he felt just mentally and being able to see physically he’s ready to go. So, we’re pumped.”
JL: And I think he deserves a ton of credit for the work he’s put in. There’s a lot of people involved, Dr. Meister, I sent him a message today about how much I appreciated him sticking to his guns. Remember the delay in the surgery, it would’ve been really easy to succumb to pressure, a lot of people whose livelihoods depended on that. He made the decision, it was best for him. And ultimately, I think that proved right. Everybody from [Director of Player Performance] Ben Peterson, [Head Athletic Trainer] Dustin Little who worked tirelessly, [Director of Reconditioning] Ryan Donahue with Brock, I think they’ve done him one heck of a job down to the, he works with the throwing guys down in Jacksonville, been spending some time there the last few weeks, done a really, really good job. And from all accounts is doing really well. And it’s been a cool process.”
Have you checked in with Vikings QB Nick Mullens at all to see any timelines and things like that, text or anything?
KS: “I didn’t, but it’s, I knew, I remember when Nick did it, and that was his last time, time with us and just hearing how bad it was, I was like, man, he’s not going to be able to do it next year, probably in preseason He wasn’t with us, so I didn’t investigate a lot of it, but I remember watching him right there in the preseason. So yeah, I kind of had the same feeling just from his results.”
How pleased are you with the work Trey’s done with Jeff Christensen? How different does he look as a thrower to you?
KS: “He looks healthier. I think his feet look better. I’m not taking away anything from Jeff but Trey has put all the work in and it’s awesome that he had a guy that he can do that stuff with but that’s exactly what Brock did. That’s what Sam Darnold does. I’ve never had a quarterback who doesn’t do that. They all do that. It’s like golf pros. They go to work on things with their swing and I think the most important time is after the season in March, April before OTAs and it’s always extremely important in the 40 days away. Trey’s done that the last few years. He just went with a different guy this year.”
Has Brock lost any velocity on his football that you guys can tell since the surgery?
KS: “I mean, we’re watching him from afar. He’s easing into it so we’re not asking. We haven’t seen his max velocity. I’m not trying to see that yet. It’ll be back to how it was. I was hoping for like a Rookie of the Year type thing. If you’ve seen that movie when you were younger, like it was just going to come back all of a sudden, the fastest on the planet. But I think it’s going to be the same. We just have to see him in person a little bit more out there with players.”
JL: “I know the data says no. They have the GPS wearables, these guys all wear these days and it’s good.”
You have come so close the last few years. I know there’s no way to predict how long a window is open to win a championship, but how much do you guys sense that urgency to get this done with this core of players and get over the hump and win the whole thing?
JL: “Every day. I mean, every day we feel it, it’s our jobs and we’ve got a lot of belief in this team. That’s why you go get a [DL] Javon Hargrave and add him to the mix even though we’ve got a lot of highly compensated players because you’ve got belief in this group. Without that belief in this group that we currently have, the culture, belief in this guy and his ability to lead this organization, you don’t do those things. But we have that much belief, that’s what we’re here for and now we have to go do it. Kyle talks a lot, his dad used to talk a lot when I played for him. All you want in this league is a chance and not everybody has that chance. We’re a team that has a chance with the way we’re constructed, the way we’re coached, the character in that locker room, the talent in that locker room. Now it’s our players’ jobs to take that ownership. It’s all of our jobs to give it our best shot. We do have a chance and I think we have a really good one. I like this group as it’s constructed and there’s a lot to like. Now we have to go do it.”
KS: “I feel the same. I mean that’s one of the reasons we came here. When we talked to [49ers owner and CEO] Jed [York] and everything, just the commitment he wanted to have and what we view as a first-class organization, which is just to do everything the right way and every year to try to give yourself a chance. And it’s hard to do that in this league. We felt the first two years we were here we worked really hard to get there and I thought we did. And really since year three, I felt we’ve been in that position every year and we feel no different this year. Usually by this time of the year going into a camp, especially after putting everything together all offseason, you always feel the best you’ve felt compared to other years in the past, but that’s what our goal is to be and that’s what our goal is to be next year too and to keep doing that. But all we have is a chance and not everyone does. And now is what do we do with that? And that has to do with what we do going forward. How hard do we work? How hard do these guys work when they’re away, which allows us to get better in this month. How good are we in week one and how good are we in week 17 and what do you do in those three or two playoff games? So, there’s a lot that goes into it and we like where we’re at right now, but now it’s time to start.”
We talked to WR Deebo Samuel during minicamp. He was pretty harsh in his self-assessment on how he played last year. I think he said it was awful. And he said he’d sat down and watched film with you and that was part of the reason that he came to that decision in terms of his own self-criticism. How do you look back at his season and was he a disappointment last year at all or is he just being self-critical?
KS: “I don’t think Deebo had to be that harsh on himself to you guys, but it was cool to watch. Deebo is one of the best players in this league and anytime he doesn’t play like one of the best players in this league, everyone’s going to be disappointed, including himself. I think that was the case. It’s a fine line to say that he was awful just because he wasn’t one of the best players in the league. I think he was disappointed. I think he can get back to playing a little bit more like he did in 2021. I think he took one small step back, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take two steps forward. And where Deebo was at, I think the last time you guys saw him showed that his mind was right to get back to that spot. And that’s what’s been real cool with him in these 40 days away. Just seeing him yesterday for the first time. Never had a grown man send me so many pictures with his shirt off, but it looks good. I can tell he put the work in, so I know you guys heard him that day. That’s the last time I really heard him, but I see better than I hear. Deebo is in a really good spot, and I’m really excited for Deebo this year.”
We spoke about T Trent Williams about that quote he had considering retirement at some point in the exit interviews last season. How was the offseason for him? What were those conversations like for you both with Trent?
JL: “He’s never told us that. And I’m glad. Trent’s still playing at such a high level. He is a special player. He’s rare. I played with some greats, but you think of the [former NFL DT Warren Sapp] Sapps, the [former NFL LB] Derrick Brooks, I mean Trent is in that ilk and he’s a special human being, a special athlete. He’s always ready and provided he’s having fun and I think provided he believes that we have a chance to go compete, he’s still in this thing very much. And we’re very grateful for that. He’s a pro, he really is. He kind of does it quietly, but his game is not quiet at all. He’s a unique athlete and really over time I’ve gotten to know him, I think he’s a unique person. He’s got some unique character to him and so he’s the total package. When you have the total package with a guy with that much ability, you have the ability to be special. And that’s exactly what he is for us.”
As you look to 2024 and the salary cap commitments that you have, is that going to be the most potentially kind of creative financial dance you’ll have to do? And does any of that kind of factor into the complexity of Bosa’s contract talk?
JL: “Well, we’re always forecasting. I’m blessed to work with some really talented people with [President of 49ers Enterprises and Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Paraag [Marathe] and [Vice President of Football Administration] Brian Hampton and their group. And they do a tremendous job of always looking out. That’s our jobs to look out and forecast out three years and not just think about this year. Have we had the pedal down? Sure. But is it doable? Yeah, we believe we’ve budgeted for a lot of things and we always want to stay aggressive. We want to push the limits and we have ownership that allows us that opportunity to do it. At some point, you know, there’s some realities that have to happen and we’re no different. Everybody plays under the same system. So that’s our challenge. In 2024, there will be some challenges, but we’ve prepared for a lot of that and I’m confident we can make it work and still keep our team very competitive.”
What’s the structure like under Paraag? I know now with the Leeds acquisition, he probably has to be in two places at once. So, who are the other guys that, that really deserve kind of a spotlight here?
JL: “Hamp, as we refer to him, Brian Hampton. Brian’s done a lot here for a lot of years oftentimes behind the scenes. Paraag’s group has been a very talented one. [Salary Cap Manager] Jeff Diamond is another guy, [Football Contract Administrator] Jeff Weidemeyer. Those are the names, but they’re really good workers and collectively, we can do it. Paraag is going to have some responsibility with Leeds, but he’s had that so not a lot has changed. I guess the enormity of his role maybe and focus and attention. Paraag is a multitasker. He does things well and we’re confident in our ability to handle these things as they come.”
Can you clarify DB Darrell Luter Jr.’s injury and if a replacement is needed for P Mitch Wishnowsky?
JL: “No we don’t with Mitch. It’s nothing we’re concerned about long term. But you know with a back, you want those things to quiet down before, if you don’t, they can become chronic. So, we want to put that to rest and we don’t think it’s too serious. Now Luter in one of the last OTAs hyperextended his knee, it resulted in a deep bone bruise. He’s working his way back, still has a few weeks. He’s a kid who really had impressed us throughout the whole draft process, but then in his work here. He’s a sharp kid, that’s a tall order for a rookie, especially not getting all the reps. We believe he’s someone, we’ll see, he’s got to prove it. But he’s uniquely equipped because he’s really smart, he’s like wise beyond his years has been our experience with him. Now he’s got to go do it, but I can tell you he never left here. His focus on the rehab was just excellent. So, he’s trending really well, but it’s going to take some time. So not ideal, but that’s where it is.”
Is it a bigger challenge this year than in years past with trying to get enough reps for Lance, Darnold, and QB Brandon Allen behind Purdy?
KS: “It is just because there’s more musical chairs, with just one guy not always there, can take some days off. The fact that, I was planning because I was trying to be safe that we’d have still a couple of weeks before Brock came back. So, the thought was always that we would just keep it going the same with Trey and Sam. But I always was ready that this could happen. So, the fact that this did happen is good, but Brandon came on and did a really good job in OTAs. So that’s to me what makes it a little bit harder how to fit in a fourth guy. But he earned that and so that’s what we’re going to have to figure out as a staff with reps and everything. The ones and twos pretty much get the same reps. So, it’s not a problem with the ones and twos, the threes are the ones who don’t get as much. I keep reminding Brock, who might be stressed out he’s missing a day or something, I keep reminding him all he got were three reps last year for like the first month. So, he’s going to have a lot more reps regardless of what happens this year. But that’s now what we got to figure out for the twos because [Detroit Lions QB Nate] Sudfeld got those mainly with the twos last year. Now we’re going to split those up with those guys and I know that’ll bleed into the threes, but when it’s said and done, hopefully it’ll balance out. I know we’re going to give them all an op and that’s also why those preseason games will probably be a little bit more for those guys too than they have been in the past.”
How much do you have to tone RB Christian McCaffrey’s training down once training camp starts to make sure he’s ready for Week 1?
KS: “Christian’s a very conscientious guy, like he knows everything that goes into his body, every step he takes, everything. He’s a psycho in that way, in a very good way. So, you don’t have to worry too much about it from our standpoint because he’s pretty communicative with us. But we have a plan with him. We have a plan with a number of our guys. And usually, our plan’s pretty good so they sometimes ask us for more usually. So, I bet it’ll play out all right, but Christian’s not a guy who would ever have a problem coming and telling us, ‘Hey, I need to shut it down for a couple days.’ But the way this is, the way it’s three days on one day off, the way we high-low our reps, the number of guys that you have at the positions, we’ve always given vet days and stuff, it’s really hard to give a vet day now because the whole team has them naturally. But that’s stuff that we know we need our guys ready for the season. It’s our job and them to make sure they’re ready to go in the season. Sometimes it’s really tough just to get to week one and if you just get to week one, it’s really tough to be there in week four. So, we have to make sure to build these guys the right way. And when you have a guy like Christian who did OTAs the way he did, the way he does really probably every single day, except for probably three weeks right after the season, you don’t worry about it too much, you don’t have to do as much on him in training camp.”
Are there any updates after minicamp with LB Dre Greenlaw, WR Jauan Jennings, and RB Elijah Mitchell?
KS: “We haven’t got it from everyone, but we’ve talked about everyone so far that we think are the only possibilities at PUP. So, all those guys should be good. That’s what everyone’s going through their physicals now, so it’s not finalized but there’s no one on our mind that we’re expecting not to be ready that we haven’t mentioned.”
Do you have to address the psychological toll of the last three season endings with the team about them not finishing the way they had hoped?
KS: “Go to two years ago, I’d like to address doing better on second-and-one and third-and-one so we don’t give the ball back to the Rams, and then if we do maybe catch that pick or don’t give that hole shot down the middle. The last game, I think we all kind of know how that went. So, there’s things we got to get better and get to that point at. Our goal is to make the playoffs and then our goal is to have two games at home because we all know what everyone’s ultimate goal is and so we kind of look at it in that stride. But to sit there and make some mental thing out of stuff, I don’t think it has been a mental thing. I think we’ve had our opportunities. That last game last year was a little bit different just because of the situation that none of us had experienced, just playing that whole half without a quarterback. We knew the year before there were things we had to get better to finish. I felt like we did. We have to make sure we get back to at least where we were last year, and we got to take steps forward to get better. But no, we don’t make too much of a deal out of that stuff. I like it because our players have experience doing that stuff. There’s not many guys here from 2019. We lost a lot of guys that were here last year, but there’s so many people in our building that have been in an NFC Championship Game or a Super Bowl and once you do that, you know how different the NFL is. I felt bad for guys like [WR Brandon] Aiyuk and stuff for their rookie years were the COVID year and all they got to see were no fans in the stands and we didn’t have the best record and we had to live in a hotel for a month and they don’t get the passion quite the same. Almost every guy on our team has felt that passion of getting that close and that’s to me what makes the offseason so much better. That’s why guys work differently and stuff because when you get close it usually makes you stronger, I think. If you’re willing to go through it again, it’s a long road to get there and that’s why you got to do stuff in the right season. But when you get close you usually get stronger if you can handle it the right way.”