General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – July 27, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
General Manager John Lynch: “We want to welcome [vice president of football communications] Corry Rush. I think you guys have all met Corry and I also want to thank [senior manager of football communications] Mike Chasanoff for doing an unbelievable job along with [coordinator of football communications] Tessa [Giammona] and [manager of football communications] Pete [Volmut] as we were filling that role. I’m excited to get on with camp. A couple of transactional things just to help you guys out for the active pup list. Right now, [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.], with his knee and [DB] Tarvarius Moore with the Achilles, going through physicals today. And if there’s any additions, Kyle will hit you up in the coming days, but that’s where we are right now.”
No gray area with anyone else?
JL: “A couple of guys that had some things that we’ll see on their physicals, if that benefits them, but no decisions as of yet. We have to do it by the end of the day today.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan “Possibility on [S] Jaquiski Tartt, we’re just waiting for stuff to come back. Yeah. Besides that, go ahead.”
Tartt was his toe?
How does DL Nick Bosa look?
KS: “He looked great in person. I saw him yesterday. I got to talk to him for about a half an hour, just to catch up. He feels good. Obviously we’re going to ease him in and stuff and we’ll get to see him move a little bit tomorrow for the first time in person, but looked great and felt a lot better having him back in the building.
JL: “Yeah. Coolest thing with Nick, he’s pretty good about documenting his workouts and sending them our way. Even though he hasn’t been here the entire time. He’s been here sporadically. He’d come out for a week or so. You always get to see videos. You never have to question his work ethic. It is a special routine that he’s developed. And it’s fun to watch a guy like that work. Got a lot of respect and admiration, not only for the player, but you get to see what goes into making that player. And it’s a lot of hard work.”
Are you getting the videos first or do you see them on Instagram like everyone else?
JL: “He doesn’t put them all on Instagram. He sends us some ones, but they’re always exciting because you get to see his progress and it keeps getting better. So that’s a good sign for us.”
Where are you with the vaccinations? What’s the percentage? Did you reach your goal?
JL: “Well, yeah, originally, everybody kind of had that goal of 85%. I’m proud to say, I think, we’re up over 90%. It really speaks to our players. We didn’t enforce anything. What we tried to do is just communicate with our guys and rely on the professionals to educate them as much as possible. So, our guys really arrived at this individually and as a team and we’re proud of them for that.”
Do you anticipate QB Trey Lance signing soon? What’s been the hold up there?
“Yeah. We’re sure hopeful that he does. Sometimes these things, I just look at our history since we’ve been here, we’ve never had a holdout. It always seems to go down to the wire and I’m confident. It’s important that he is here. I think for any rookie, for every player, every rep counts, every meeting counts. But in particular at that position. So, we’re hopeful and expecting that Trey will be here and certainly know the importance of him being here.”
What is your approach with quarterbacks in terms of diving up reps? And did you seek any advice from anyone who’s kind of had a similar situation that going into this at all?
KS: “No. Because I just treat it like I would any other situation. Jimmy, going through OTAs, what he’s done, he’s our best quarterback in the building right now. So, he’ll start out training camp that way. And we’ve got three other guys behind him. Now we’re going to give Trey the first chance, obviously, as the backup. And anytime a guy is playing a lot better than the guy in front of them is when you start to split reps up with that team and start to talk about it. Trey has had seven practices with us. And I haven’t seen him for 40 days, so I’m not thinking about that right now. Just having Jimmy going, he’s our starter. And we’re going to give all those guys every opportunity to improve. And if someone ever looks like they give us a better chance to win, we’ll make that decision.”
So, it’s not a competition? It’s Jimmy is the starter. He’ll take starter reps and then mix the other guys in as you normally would?
KS: “Yes. Yeah. There’s no open competition right now in terms of they’re getting equal reps with the same group. Jimmy’s coming in as the one and Trey’s coming in as the two.”
What is the goal, the plan for kind of easing them back into the mix?
KS: “They’re all starting out, I believe, with individual tomorrow. I think that’s, we’re not going to put any of them in team situations for a little bit. I’d say at least this first block of days. I think we’ve got four practices, a day off, and then I believe we’ve got three more again and then a day off. I think we’ll look into it about a week. It’s the first time they’ll be out there with the D-Line and stuff and doing things like that. [WR] Jalen [Hurd] with the receivers. I’d be surprised if they got into team drills within a week. But as soon as they’re ready, they’ll be out there.”
You expect all of them to be active?
KS “Yeah. I don’t expect anyone to start on PUP.”
With all the injuries last year and the guys you’ve lost already. Were there any changes you’ve made in the last several weeks?
KS: “Yeah, we adjust our schedule every year with the reps that we do and stuff like that. I think the hardest thing last year was that was the first time we didn’t get to do a training camp schedule. We made a ton of adjustments in 2019, where I don’t like to give all our secrets how we do it, but I feel very good with how we do it. We weren’t able to do that in ‘20 because the amount of time. You got everything cut in half. So, we ended up just putting everyone almost on ice and trying to get them to Week One because you didn’t have enough time to get them in football shape. And so you survive training camp better, but you saw what happened very quickly in the first four weeks. So, we take everything into account. I mean, the goal is you want to get players to Week One, but you also want to make sure they can stay healthy through those first four weeks. I feel like if you can stay healthy through those first four weeks, then you’ve got a better chance of having that callous and making it through the year. One of the hardest things is just getting guys to Week One who don’t do a lot in camp. Then you get an injury in those first three weeks and now you’re in it. You’re back and forth throughout the rest of the year. So our goal is push the guys as much as you can while balancing out. And that’s why we have a whole ladder, mountain type approach where you’ve got high reps, low reps. And eventually we’ll get there, but it takes a couple of weeks to get to the reps we want.”
With DL Dee Ford, did he require a procedure and then secondly, is it his upper back, was his neck involved at all?
JL: “Yeah. There was no additional procedure. I think that’s been the challenge with him is that it has been kind of a moving target. And I think that’s not abnormal when you’re dealing with the core of your body, you know, in your spine. So we feel like we have a good handle on it now he does, but I think it’s kind of a cautiously optimistic approach. Kind of wait and see. You always have to advance it along and see how he does. We’re hopeful. But we’re also cautious. Those things are touchy and we’ll kind of be cautiously optimistic as he tries to advance and reach new goals and put them out there with his teammates.”
John spoke to us last week about reaching out to former CB Richard Sherman and saying that he has full support of the team. Have you spoken to him at all since?
KS: “We text. Text and voicemails we’ve left. I haven’t talked to him in person or anything. Know he’s going through a little bit of a tough time, but I love Sherm. I love Ashley [Sherman]. They are great people, a great family. And I feel very strongly about them and so it was sad to see and sad to hear about, but they’re going to get through this and be all right.”
As far as strong safety, I know you’ve got a lot of different guys back there. Can you talk about some of the scenarios if you don’t have Tartt, you don’t have Moore? In training camp, who else is in the mix to be working with the Ones?
KS: “We’ve got a pretty good group there. Just John being able to bring in [S] Tony Jefferson and [S] Tavon Wilson. Two guys that we’ve played against that are good players. I know that they haven’t been playing as much lately, especially Tony. But we feel they’re healthy and they’re out there. So, hopefully Tartt can get healthy and stuff, but we’ve added some veteran competition to where I feel we have a lot more competition than we’ve had in the years past. It was really unfortunate losing Tarvarius just what he brings to special teams and how much playing time he got last year. But that’s why we were very lucky to bring in some of those vets that we did. And we’ll see how camp shakes out. I know all of those guys are going to get opportunities, all those guys are going to get reps but it’ll be some good competition this off season.”
That is where S Talanoa Hufanga will start out?
“Yeah. He’s thrown into there too, obviously with the rookies and some other guys that you guys don’t know about, but we’ve got a good group. And hopefully Tarvarius, we’re talking about him having a possibility to come back late in the year. So I don’t think we have to officially put him on IR. So we’ll see how that works out. But I feel that we’ve got a pretty good group.”
JL: “Keep on sending our trainers and Tarvarius, not to put any heat on them, but just to have a little fun. I saw this Russian gymnast just won a metal three months after an Achilles. Right. Before that in the Euro 2020, I think it was a player from Spain or Portugal was competing four months. So I said, ‘Fellas, they’re doing something right over there. Let’s get going.” We’ve talked a lot about it, but those special kind of athletes and Tarvarius fits in that mold. They tend to heal. And he’s on a good course right now. So we’re hopeful that that maybe there’s a chance that by the end of the season, he’d help our team. He was really having a great off season.”
Can one or both take us through what T Mike McGlinchey did this off season. Did you guys come to some conclusion on how he could better prepare himself for both the run game and the pass game?
KS: “Yeah, Mike’s as hard on himself as anybody. I thought Mike had a very good rookie year. There were a couple of things he took a step back on last year, which he understood. And we’re also in a lot different situations. First year, the way we played was a little bit different than the second year when we were playing sometimes catch up football. And you’re in a lot of two minutes situations, which is a totally different element than how we played in 2019. I think Mike, like everybody, didn’t get quite the off season that he wanted. Not because he’s not a hard worker or anything like that, just going through COVID and stuff like that. And so you see, where your weight’s at, how that affected you going through that year. Sometimes losing weight helps, sometimes it hurts. I think he put a little bit more on, but I don’t think that was the big thing. It was just being as strongest and most in shape, ready to go. And I think also the mental aspect of the game. When you come into the league as a high pick and you have a good rookie year and you go through a couple rough spots in your second year, that’s not going to define you. It’s how you come back from it. And I think Mike really attacked everything. And sometimes you’ve got to tell Mike to slow down a little bit, because it means the world to him. Just talking to him, being around him today and yesterday, you can tell he’s in a great space and a great place. And I think he’s ready to go. And I’m excited to see him out there this year.”
You talked about Trey Lance adding a different element to the offense, just in terms of playing 11-on-11. When you’re watching him over these next couple of weeks, how do you sort of balance developing him within the offense from a fundamental standpoint versus incorporating some of that stuff that is unique to him in terms of how you can use it?
KS: “Yeah. I don’t think it’s as hard as it seems. It’s not like you need to practice running the ball a lot. It’s not like he’s going to practice bouncing off guys and stuff in practice. When you put a quarterback run in it is more based off of an element of the defenses and accounting for them. So you just run it until they account for it, then you go to other stuff. So you take what they give you. And if you watch his college tape, he’s gotten plenty of runs. So we don’t need to go out there and run him in practice and stuff like that. But you do need to make sure that you’re O-Line and running backs know how to do it. And that usually ties into every single other run that you do. Just, you’ve got an element of maybe the quarterback keeps it or there might be some runs that, ‘Hey, we might have the quarterback do that this week, where the running back to the last week.’ But the O-Line doesn’t know the difference. So as long as you’re developing a system, it’s interchangeable who you put in there. You’re never going to put a guy in who is not ready for it, but I don’t think you’re not trying to put in a running game that a quarterback has to practice every single day.”
Do you envision using him in like special packages or is it still too early to make that determination?
KS: “It’s too early to make that. I mean, obviously you want to use anyone who can help in situations. And when you do have a quarterback who has the threat to run and who can make throws that’s something I would love to use. But that’s something that will be based off of whether he’s ready, how it looks that week based off the schemes we’re going against and how he fits in our office overall based off what we’ve seen in practice.”
You’ve had four or five guys that have kind of reached the top of the market for their position contracts over the last couple of years, maybe not traditionally premium positions. Philosophically, how do you kind of evaluate, you know, the positions you want to pay and how much does that play into it? And also how much does having a rookie quarterback for the next few years maybe give you some leeway into doing some of that stuff?
JL: “You know, I think the answer to the final question is obviously, I mean that does free you up a little bit. And I wouldn’t say that, you know, that had a lot to do with our decision to pursue that. I think it was more just a sequence of events that we’ve talked a lot about with Jimmy struggling to stay on the field and how we arrived at that. Yeah, we have positions, you know, I think we’ve put an emphasis on building up front, building on the D-Line, but ultimately, I think what Kyle and I really do is, we said in the beginning, look, everybody in that locker room watches who we’re paying and why and not our words, but our actions. And so I think you try to pay the right people and the people you think are going to give you the best chance to win. And we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had guys like George and Fred and [T] Trent Williams, you know in a different way, acquired him via trade. And you know, we very much believe in, we can’t take credit for developing Trent, maybe Kyle can early at Washington, but the other two, we played a part in developing them. And that’s fun and it creates an atmosphere in that locker room where, hey, if you do your part, you’re going to be taken care of in this building. And we’re proud of that. And, it’s a good, it’s not a problem, but it’s a good situation to have where you have guys that are at the top of market. Obviously everyone in that locker room can’t be that, but we’re proud and happy that we’ve been able to do that. And I think we’re still in a good place from a cap situation and feel good about that.”
Could you separate Jimmy’s play last season from his injury? I mean, could you evaluate what he did in the few games he was mostly healthy for and in your mind, do you go into the season with him as a Super Bowl-level quarterback he was a couple years ago?
KS: “No, I go, the last thing on my mind is how he played last. And I thought he had as good of OTAs as he’s had since he’s been here. So that really excites me about Jimmy going into training camp. And besides that really doesn’t mean anything except how I feel right now. We’ll see how he practices tomorrow and we’ll see how that goes throughout this month before Week 1. Yeah, I have opinions about the play, it’s not all just injury but yeah, you go back to last year and I think myself, our entire offense and entire team didn’t play and do as well as we had. And what does that mean? Do you have the excuse of COVID and not getting the practice? Is it injuries? I mean, everyone has excuses and excuses are reality, but they don’t totally matter. And so you go through all that stuff and we went through it, we survived it and now we’re here. And is it going to make you better or worse? And I really hope some of the stuff Jimmy went through with the injuries, some of us not playing as well either, I hope it makes him better this year and you don’t get to hang out with the guys a ton in the offseason until they show up at OTAs. And that’s what I was really encouraged by him with. He came to OTAs with his time away and I felt he had improved with whatever happened in the year before. Lasted throughout the whole OTAs. Haven’t seen him for 40 days but I expect it to have only gotten better here for training camp. And now we put guys around him well and he continues to play at a high level and hopefully that’ll continue into Week 1.”
On that note, no rookie quarterback has ever led his team to a Super Bowl and win one and this team obviously still has Super Bowl as a goal. Is that on your mind? Do you understand why that is? And is that a factor as you look at this situation?
KS: “No, that doesn’t enter my mind at all. I mean, I get that stat and those percentages, but I’m just looking at our situation and our moment. And that’s why it’s, it’s a lot simpler than I think people make it out to be. It’s who do you think gives you the best chance to win? And that’s why, you know, when we made this trade, I told Jimmy I know this is discouraging and I’m sure frustrating for you, but you’ve also got to know, Jimmy is a very good player. And if Jimmy’s at the top of his game, I told him this back, whenever we made the trade there’s no rookie who is going to just come in here right away and be able to take your job if you’re at the top of your game and what I’ve seen so far is him getting there. And that’s very exciting for me. It’s very exciting for the Niners and it’s early those were OTAs, we’ll see how training camp goes and we’ll deal with it accordingly.”
What was it about his OTA performance that stood?
KS: “Just how sharp was, the rhythm of getting the ball out on time, where it was going. Just even if I didn’t watch the film, if I just watched his body language, how he talked to people, how he called the play he was very clear. He was very sharp, aggressive in what he did. And it was, it was good to see and excited me while we were away. And you can hear that I’m excited about it now.”
Going back to, you know, you guys had to deal with whether you can keep Indianapolis Colts DL DeForest Buckner and you ended up keeping DL Arik Armstead and trading DeForest, and you guys now have five players who are at the top of the market. What is your sort of your process in deciding, okay, we can pay this guy top market value and as an organization how do you sort of sort through that?
JL: “Well, it’s a constant process of you know, of getting together as a group, identifying our priorities, identifying our situation at a given time. There’s a lot of things that if we do this, there’s a domino effect. The, you know, the Buck situation had happened. That was believe me, that was Kyle and I, that was our toughest decision since we’ve been here. I’m sure we’ll be debated for a long time whether it was right or wrong. The difficult thing, and we knew it at the time about him is that he is a guy who did everything right on and off the field. And so that was one that circumstances kind of dictated. And you know, we did what we thought was best at the given time. And you know, I suppose, you know, like how other guys play, [DT Javon] Kinlaw is a guy who we drafted and we’re encouraged where he’s going, but you know, a lot of those things will go into it. But, you know, we did what was best. We forecast into the future and cap situations and things. And at the given time, that’s what we thought was best for our organization.”
KS: “I think that’s the hardest thing that everyone looks into because it’s not black and white. It’s not who do you value the most? What position do you value the most? I mean, I think everyone’s paying a quarterback and a pass rusher one and two for the most part. What if you don’t have that quarterback, what if you don’t have that pass rusher, or what if you have a great receiver or whatever it is, what’s your team. And each team is different and teams have won a lot of different ways. If we build everything from scratch, I think everyone will try to do it a similar way, but that’s not how it works. He brought up the Buck situation. That was tough because it was very similar to Fred. A guy who has done everything right. Does it the right way. And he’s also one of the best players at his position. Hell yeah we want to keep that guy here. What’s it gonna cost? Oh, it costs that alright what does that mean? Well it means you’ve got him, but you’ve also got to lose these two players. All right. Well, what could you do for that? You could get those two players and you could get the 13th pick in the draft. So now you have three guys compared to that. All right. Well, what’s it gonna mean for our team if we don’t have those three guys and just have that this year, next year and the year after? Dang, this is tough and then you’ve got to make a decision that makes you kind of sick because of someone like Buck. Would have been the same thing with someone like Fred or someone like [TE George] Kittle, guys are at the top of their position, who do everything the right way. Fortunately what it took to get them and compare it with what it meant to our team, who we would lose, how to replace it. And it was a lot easier to get done and that’s why it worked out. But one thing that John started off with saying what we talked about before we even got here, it is so important to reward guys that do it the right way, that do it the way you ask, that do it the way you want the Niners to be and to play at a high level. And that was the hardest thing about Buck and that’s what was going to be hard about Kittle and Fred just worked out in a better way.”
Do you have to be careful in terms of your messaging to the team, just given that, you know, you guys do have your aspirations, but you’re also, you went through the offseason making a big move at quarterback. Like what’s the messaging to your team. What’s your process in terms of trying to get that message across?
KS: “Nothing. I mean, nothing different. The reasons you say why that’s not to me how you’d talk to a football team. Really. You don’t, they don’t come in and you’re like, guys, this is it. We’ve got a Super Bowl team or guys, we don’t sorry, it’s gonna be a tough year. I mean, you don’t say it either way. You come in and you put the work in and you try to be as good as you can. What I love about our situation is I think every year we’ve been here, I think it started and we knew we had a real uphill battle those first couple of years and stuff, but every single year, I think the way our organization works, they give us a chance. And that’s really all you can ask for. I mean, they always give us a chance. I mean, they do everything we possibly can to be successful. And I think our players know that. What’s provided in here, what we try to do, how we try to re-sign guys, how would we try to bring guys in? And we’re not just in an organization that’s just trying to market a team and be that we’re in an organization that is doing everything they can to win. Now, the league is very competitive. It’s not, it’s very hard to do that. And that’s why you want players who, you know, aren’t just motivated by outside things. Aren’t trends motivated. They love football. They want to work. Because this game isn’t easy. It’s very tough. And especially the more pressure that comes. I think everyone’s pumped to come to training camp. We’re going to grind. I think our team knows that we’ve got a good team. That’s why I don’t have to sit here and convince them of it. Our quarterback situation’s our quarterback situation. I mean, they’ve known what’s happened when we’ve lost guys, when we’ve lost Jimmy. I think our guys are very excited that hopefully we can have some other guys that if that did happen they believe we have a chance too, and not just at the quarterback position, but at a number of positions. I mean, in 2019, you know, we didn’t have as many people hurt as in 2020, but we did face a lot of injuries that year too and we were able to persevere and our goal each offseason is to try to build that so we can handle whatever adversity happens and hopefully be the last team standing.”
It seems there was a concerted effort to bring in quality depth the interior defensive line. What do you expect out of guys like DL Zach Kerr and DL Maurice Hurst this year?
JL: “I’d say that that was fortuitous for us, you know, first of all, that a guy like Kerr was out there. And I think that was probably dictated by the year and where the cap was and all that. So some guys chose that rather than take a lower deal, an extension deal, wasn’t there for them, a long-term, to come in on a one year. And I think the one thing they know if they come here, they’re going to have an opportunity to pin their ears back and go on the D-Line. That word travels in this league, they see it on the film. So a guy like Zach Kerr was out there for us. You know, we didn’t anticipate [DL] Arden Key and Hurst to become available, but the Raiders made a decision that they did and we pounced on it. We think they’re good football players who can help us. And so, you know, the more quality depth we can add at that position we think it’s a good thing for us. And, they know they’re going to come here and get coached. They know we have a philosophy that allows those guys to shine and they know they’re going to be surrounded by quality players. And so I think that’s a nice thing we have going, we believe in very much our actions have represented that. And you know, I think guys relish the opportunity to play, and now we’ve got to go make it happen out here, but we’re excited about that unit.”
In light of keeping your guys, T Trent Williams had mentioned FaceTime. Did you FaceTime all the guys that you signed and why is it important to do that in the offseason?
KS: “Probably., It’s just easier to talk to people when you look at them, nothing more than that. I don’t, I like eye contact, I only do FaceTimes. To me it’s easier to talk to especially players, it’s just easier to talk to them when they can see you.”
Did you really hit the pizza oven on the first shot?
KS: “Yes, my best athletic moment of my life, all stars were aligned at the right time.”
How did that, can you take us through that?
KS: “We were just messing around. It was, you know, it was 4th of July. We were up there, we were on my buddy’s rooftop and we had a football and I was just, I felt like I could throw at the time. And I was asking everyone where they wanted me to throw it. And then he said that pizza oven right over there, and I go, I’m going to hit this, film this. And they go, yeah right. But I’d hit it somehow. I won my buddy’s golf clubs off of them. It was awesome. And we were going to take the whole thing down, the pizza oven, but now we’re keeping it up. It’s like a monument where it happened. I will never attempt it again. I’ll just be one for one”
Your appearance on the flying coach podcast, I’m assuming you’re a Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford fan. I’m just curious, why didn’t you get like, oh, Hey, yeah, the Rams are going to offer this. What was that like or that didn’t happen? Why did that happen and was that a compensation that turned into not?
KS: “I mean, I’m not going to say now, but what the conversation was because we hadn’t gotten through that much. But yeah, just, you knew Matt was available, you found out there were rumors he was going to be available and it started to get somewhat serious, just like kind of [Houston Texans QB] Deshaun [Watson] was at the time. And those are the people you’re looking at, just making sure you’re ready for that. And you see how good he is and then you go to sleep and you wake up and he’s on the Rams the next day. So that was a little frustrating, but yeah, that’s, I think what you just said was it, you know, there’s relationships in this business and that’s some of the stuff you’ve just got to deal with.”