Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – August 30, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening comments:

“Injuries from the game: [WR] Travis Benjamin, still in the protocol, [T] Shon Coleman ended up having a triceps strain, should be out a while. We ended up getting more imaging on [QB] Trey [Lance]. He ended up having a small chip on his finger. So he’s going to be out about seven days. From the game, that was it.”

Was that his thumb?

“I’m not going to get into which finger it is. One of his five.”

The team just announced linebackers coach Johnny Holland’s prognosis. Can you just share what he’s meant to the team?

“Yeah, whoever’s been around Johnny at all, he means a ton to them. Not just our team, his family, anybody has ever known Johnny. If any of you guys know him, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve been around Johnny since, I met him in 2006 when I was in Houston. I was there with him for four years. I never got to coach with him again until he came here. I have as much love for Johnny as any person I’ve ever been around. He is such a good person. He’s genuine every day. So much about the people around him. His wife, Faith, is the exact same type of person. They’re both special and their family. And we’ve been going through this with them for a bit. It came up first in ’19 and he really inspired us a ton that year. He was able to defeat it a number of times and he’s in the same battle again. Just to give you guys an example of the type of guy Johnny is, he always tells me and he means it, how happy he is that he’s going through this and not someone else. Not some kid or not someone who couldn’t handle it the same way. Johnny’s faith is so strong and who he is, is so strong that he believes he can be an inspiration to people who are dealing with this stuff like he’s been to us every single day. And I can’t say enough about Johnny. He is a very special dude who I plan on being around here for much longer.”

On Trey, can you explain what a chipped finger is or what your understanding of it is at least?

“Yeah. I mean, it wasn’t bothering him much because he just thought it was jammed on that helmet. And then when you get all the images on it, there’s, when they showed it to me, it’s microchip of a bone that’s off. He chipped it, which is a small chip fracture which is worse than a jam. That’s why it’s not going to just heal on its own without taking them. I mean, he can’t take snaps and do all that stuff right now. So, we’ve just got to rest it for seven days, they say, and that should make it heal. And hopefully it’ll be good next Monday when we get into practice.”

From what you’ve seen now through three games with Trey Lance, how has he progressed in going through his progressions, his reads, fundamentals, all of that, all of those things you look for?

“I think he’s gotten better with each game. He’s gotten better throughout the whole process. Something he’ll keep having to work on, though, every single week, every single day throughout his entire career also.”

Is it kind of what you would expect from a rookie quarterback?

“Yeah, definitely. Exactly what you expect.”

Circling back real quick on Johnny Holland. Can you just kind of describe what we’ve seen, kind of on the practice field and in meetings? What he’s done for LB Fred Warner and the linebackers the last few years?

“Yeah, you’re not going to hear Johnny a lot. He’s never going to go out of his way to stick out to other people. He is very, he does everything the right way and he just genuinely cares so much about the people that he can help. And from what he’s done with [Fred], to every linebacker in that room. I mean, you guys start to ask them about him, I bet you start to hear them speak very similarly as me, if not better. He is completely invested in his players and on top of that, he is a very smart person who knows football well. I mean, he went to Texas A&M as a quarterback and moved to, I think, defensive back within about a week and then ended up playing linebacker there. He was a second-round pick for the Packers, had a hell of a career. Coached a number of places and knows a lot of football. But what makes him different is how much he can connect to people. He would be successful in anything he would have ever chose to do. The fact that he chose to be a football coach, I know he’s impacted every single person he’s gotten the opportunity to coach. It’s really shown with our linebackers.”

What’s it been like for just you and the coaching staff? How difficult is it to just maintain focus and handle the duties that you have to handle as part of your job?

“I mean, it’s stuff, we’ve been through it before. We went through it our 2019 year. So we understand how it goes. We understood the times when Johnny had to do certain things and we had to take care of him. When he had to be at appointments and things like that. So we’ve got that all figured out from a schedule standpoint and everything like that. So really no issues there. My biggest thing is just constantly reminding Johnny that, Johnny likes coaching. He likes being here. He loves what he brings to the team and he loves what the team gives him back. And that’s something that he really enjoys to be around. And our biggest thing is just making it very clear to him and Faith that that’s great and all, and he’ll always have that opportunity anytime that he ever wants it. But I also know what the most important thing for him to do too, and that’s to attack this treatment as hard as he can and to focus on that and we’ll have his back and we’ll always be here when he’s done with that.”

What’s this process been like today and what do you anticipate tomorrow, as far as the tough decisions you guys have to make to get it down to 53?

“Yeah, you’ve got somewhat of an idea on a number of things going into that game. Then you’ve always got to look into the close battles and whatever positions that are at, you look at them. So you’ve got a really grade that tape hard and then what does it affect at other positions, whether you want to go heavy, whether you want to go light. You’ve got to look at all the injuries that are there for guys that you do want on your opening day roster, but guys that are going to be healthy enough also to play in Week 1. Lots of stuff to take into account on that. And then plus, having 16 practice squad guys, that now that we’ve got 16 and you can have vets and stuff, I really, we really need to change the name because it’s not just a developmental thing, it’s those 16 guys. We end up having a 69-man roster because it’s very rare that our practice squad guys don’t end up playing for us throughout the year as you’ve seen here with us the last few years. This day we come in and you grade the tape so hard. I just finished with the players at 3:30 and I come to do this. So now, this is my last thing. Then I’ll talk with the coaches, talk with [general manager] John [Lynch] and everything they’ve been working on upstairs and we’ll start to piece our boards together and make some tough final decisions, but I don’t expect any to come today. Who knows. I’m not going to promise that, but I’d be surprised if we got any done this afternoon. I think we’ll start making all those tomorrow morning.”

It looked like the running game obviously got off to a good start yesterday. How potent do you think it can be this season with all you have available and all the extra options you have? 

“I think we have an opportunity to do really well at it. We’ve got a bunch of guys with different skillsets, I think at a number of positions. You hope that those guys can stay healthy and you hope you’re developing the right guys behind them to add some depth so you can overcome that type of stuff. But it’s always been important to us to run the ball. Yesterday I’m glad that we did run it well and you’ve got to kind of expect to in that situation with it being the pre-season game and they didn’t play as many people obviously. And we were doing some stuff that no one’s going to prepare for at that time. That was just more about us. But it shows you some of the stuff that you can do. And it’s very important to us to run the ball around here. So, I like the personnel that we have.”

What kind of Detroit Lions preparation are you planning this week and would Trey not being able to take part in practice affect his availability if he is able to start practicing the Monday before the game?

“Yeah, we won’t do any this week. We’ll have a practice Wednesday and Thursday and then the whole league has those next three days off. I think one of the biggest overrated things right now is this whole extra bye-week that everyone is acting like we have. I don’t see it much different than how it is every single year. Normally on this day, I’m doing the exact same thing. We’re resting our players because you just played a game on usually Saturday or Sunday. Travel back a lot and today we grade it all. Usually do a light walk through on Tuesday, usually have a practice on Wednesday. Then you play about half of your guys in that Thursday game, a lot who aren’t making your team, the guys who aren’t playing, you have a little conditioning thing. So, basically in a normal week, when you have a Week 4 preseason game, you’re only doing stuff on Wednesday and Thursday. And then you take Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. And you start on Monday, which is exactly what everyone in the league is doing this week except we don’t have to get through that game on Thursday and play some guys and risk getting guys injured, which is awesome. But as far as this whole extra time and stuff, to me it feels the exact same as always, but it’s nice to not have to go through that process of that fourth game. When it comes to Detroit and everything, we’re just going to get two good practices in and we’ll work throughout the week so, when they come in on Monday, that’s probably when we’ll start giving them some of the gameplan.”

When it comes to the difficult choices you do have to make over the next day or less than, is that something you ever get used to or is this always a very difficult couple of days for you?

“It’s always real difficult. It’s something that, you do it every year and I’ve seen it for a long time. But you know what it means to everyone and you know how hard these guys work to give himself a chance to make a team. At the same time, you’re so excited to get to your final team and to be done with the preseason and be done with all that. There’s a lot of juice and buzz in the building with getting to our regular team and being able to start focusing completely on Week 1. So, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on at the same time. But just for the individuals and the guys that are involved it’s extremely tough and you try to go through it the right way. You try to explain it to all of them and you don’t always tell them what they want to hear, but you try to tell them the truth. And the one thing I always echo to our guys is that everyone makes such a big deal of the final 53. Which I think is one of the worst names for it because the only day it’s the final 53 is on that day. Never in the history of the NFL has it ever been your final 53. You’re changing that roster throughout the year, all the time. And yeah, guys might have opportunities to go other places and get on theirs, but we have guys go down and we have to change this roster throughout the year. We like to bring people in that we know and guys that we’ve worked with. And I see those guys in this building. So, I think we have 80 left. When we play with our 16 practice squad we’re going to get it to 69 guys. So, there’s about 11 guys here that you have to say bye to. But I can’t tell you in my four years here how many of those 11 guys I’ve said bye to who end up coming back in the year at any time, whether it’s the middle of the season or the playoffs. So, you try to end it good and try to tell those guys how much you’re counting on them to be in shape and be ready to come back. So hopefully you have some good stuff to tell them when they leave too.”

I have one quarterback question.

“Oh, I’ve got plenty of time for that then go ahead.”

Just broadly what’s the biggest challenge you face in terms of approaching the season and knowing that you have a guy that you’re developing for the long-term while also understanding you have a team that’s ready to contend right now?
“Yeah, there’s a couple of things to it but that’s why I try to start with what gives you the best chance to win. And that’s kind of what you owe to an organization. That’s what you owe to your building. That’s what you owe to all the players and coaches on the team who are grinding every single week. Whether it’s players, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s personnel people, you do what you can to win. And if you’re not, I don’t feel like you’re being fair to people. I always try to look at everything as wins and losses depend on where you’re telling your kids they’re going to school at the end of the year. And that’s a big deal to everybody, to families and to the individual. And so, you always try to think of when it’s your decision, ‘Hey, what helps us win’ and keep it there. At the same time, I get spending the draft picks to get a young quarterback and you’ve got to do what’s right for that guy too. And I think what has been tough on Trey is he didn’t get to play football all last year. So regardless of what happens, I’m always trying to make sure that Trey doesn’t go another year without playing football. We’re going to make sure that we do what’s best for him. Getting him reps on the practice field, hopefully in games too and we’ll see how this all pans out. But my order of thinking always starts with what’s best for this organization, what gives our organization the best chance to win. And then after that I’m always thinking of the individual.”