Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Postgame Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – September 27, 2020
San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants
“Injuries today, [TE] Jordan Reed with an ankle and then a knee. [CB Emmanuel] Moseley had a concussion. [LB Mark] Nzeocha had a quad and [RB] Jerick [McKinnon] left there in the fourth with upper ribs.”
What did you say to your team in the locker room just now? What’s the mood there? I have to think it’s a lot different than what it was a week ago in the same place?
“Our guys were excited last week, too. We had a lot more injuries last week, so they had mixed emotions, but the guys were fired up today. We’ve been on the road for a while. We’re real excited to get on this plane, celebrate a little bit and get back to our families. What I said to them was, ‘I’m so happy about the team win.’ For the offense to control the ball the way we did, to not punt in the game or have a turnover in the game. The defense had three turnovers and I think they kept them out of the red zone the entire game. Then special teams I thought played very well, obviously minus the snaps. We didn’t punt, but on the kickoffs, I think we had three stop inside the 20 which is a pretty big deal on kickoff returns and touchbacks. I was just really happy with everyone across the board, especially losing some of the guys early. Losing Jordan was a big part of the game plan. For [TE] Ross Dwelley to come in and step it up and make some plays. Losing Jet a little bit in the second half – I know it’s kind of out of hand then, but [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.] came in and made some big plays, too, at least he got a couple carries. I was also happy with [WR Brandon] Aiyuk also. He struggled a little bit in the first half but got going on the opening drive; I think he had in the third quarter. He really made some good plays for us today.”
What were your impressions of QB Nick Mullens? It seemed like he had things pretty under control throughout the game and looked like he wanted to attack the Giants.
“Yes, Nick was great. He was very poised. We went on a lot of long drives today which are better than not scoring, but those long drives can get a little bit exhausting. Especially for me – I don’t want to have to call that many plays. Nick kept his composure. We had a number of penalties it seemed like, especially on second down. I think there in the red zone inside the 10, I forget which quarter it was, but I know we went on one 16-play drive without a third down. Nick had control over that. It was just execution and how consistent he was all day.”
What are you referring to about Brandon Aiyuk’s struggles in the first half? Was it a concerted effort there in the first drive of the third quarter to feed him not only in the passing game but also in the running game?
“I probably shouldn’t have said that because the struggles are to my own standard and kind of how I am with these guys. There were just a couple plays that I want him to do a little bit better on. But, by no means were they bad or would anyone else notice. I decided to go out a lot more aggressive in the second half and with some of his routes and things. What was your second question? Concerted effort. Not really, I don’t think like that. It was more of what they were doing. He was out there as we’re starting the X and he was out there when the plays were being called. We got a few better looks from him in coverage. He was number one on a bunch and we got the right look and he took care of the ball.”
What’s your concern level with Jordan Reed and the injury he had today?
“I don’t know yet. He came back from the ankle. He was good enough to come back from the ankle and play, but quickly ended up getting the knee. So, I’m not sure the exactly the extent of it. I feel pretty optimistic that it’s not going to be anything long term or anything like that. We’ll find out tomorrow.”
Just considering the injury situation and everything like that, how happy are you to be at 2-1 right now? I know Week One got away obviously, but all things considered?
“I was really happy with this week. Losing that many guys last week and just the way it sort of happened made us a little bit emotional to start and pull together throughout the week. I just got a real good vibe and energy on Wednesday by the time we started practicing all the way to last night at the hotel and meetings before the game. Then today, I think they played very hard all four quarters. I was very proud of our team. I was last week, too, you know, the way it started last week and some of that stuff – then to overcome that and keep grinding through it. It feels good to be back here and to do it two weeks in a row. I can’t wait to get back home now.”
Is LT Kyle Nelson dealing with a physical injury or is there something else going on?
“Not that I know of. I don’t think so. He obviously struggled today. He’s done a real good job throughout his career and he’s helped us out a ton. Today wasn’t that day. Fortunately, it didn’t end up costing anything.”
When you talk about the timing on those reverse runs – I know WR Deebo Samuel ran a lot of those last season – does Brandon Aiyuk give you anything different? When Deebo comes back, will it be nice to have a guy who is a physical runner like him combined with what Brandon brought today?
“The more the guys you have that can run the ball and the more guys you have who can catch the ball gives you a lot of options when you’re putting things together. It also helps you a lot when you have injuries, too. I think today showed a lot about our depth, also. Some of the guys stepped up and did some things. Hopefully we can keep playing this way and slowly but surely get a lot of these guys back as we move forward.”
You talked about still having a good team and still having a lot of depth. All that being said, does 36-9 and the way you completely out classed them surprise you at all?
“No, and it’s nothing against them at all, but we had a real good week of practice. We were pretty confident last night. I know the way it ended up, but by no means was that easy. Those drives were grinds. We didn’t punt today and we didn’t turn it over, but it didn’t feel like that. We had to work for a lot of stuff and they kept us out of the end zone a number of times. Fortunately, our defense was able to get some turnovers, but, that’s a good team. It got away a little bit there at the end, but I was real proud of our guys. That was our plan. We wanted to do that. We came in and wanted to do that. We thought we could do it and I was proud of the guys for pulling it off. “
You were saying immediately after last week’s game that you got good players. You certainly talked about guys who could step up. Was this important just to tell the coaching staff, yourself and the team too, that you can have a successful season after injuries? Was this a step for you guys mentally?
“Yes, the more situations you go through where you have success and stuff should always give you confidence and everything. You get stronger with that stuff as the year goes. We got better. We weren’t the same team in Week 1 last year that we were in Week 7. Each time we won, we stacked those up, our team got a lot more confident. But, there was only one way for that to happen. You play good and you win. We’ve had two big games here in a row. I think our team does have a lot more confidence over that. I’m trying not to keep talking about it, but the injuries were a huge topic last Monday and Tuesday. But kind of what we’re talking about now is really what we started going through on Wednesday. We talked about a lot of stuff with a lot of players in the room. The way we went out to practice on Wednesday gave us a lot more confidence. Thursday made us even stronger and we had a great Friday, too. I really mean that in terms of those three dates that we had at The Greenbrier. Our team kind of expected this. You still have to go out and do it and stuff, but we had a lot of confidence coming into this game. Hopefully that will lead us to next week and having some, too.”
Obviously you have to go back and watch a little bit of tape, but were you happy with the performance that you say from CB Jason Verrett amidst the injuries with the cornerbacks?
“I was so happy for Jason Verrett. Jason Verrett is a stud. He’s been a great player in this league and he’s been through more than Jerick has here in the last couple years. I was so glad that he came back with our team. He got an opportunity and he played great in camp. Then he had that hamstring the last week and that really set him back. He got his opportunity today. He had a great week of practice. It was awesome watching him on those three days. I felt like he was going to do a really good job today and he did. Just seeing him after the game and how happy he was – he really earned it. He deserves it. I’m pumped he’s on our team.”
This felt like a game where Jerick McKinnon really had the opportunity to show what you’ve seen in him and why you stuck with him, even through all the injuries. Can you talk a little bit about his performance today?
“I thought Jerick and Jeff played a great game. I’m sure their stats weren’t that great. The running game wasn’t as good as it has been. They got some pretty big dudes inside and they had a real good scheme. They played a run game very well. I felt like a couple runs we got going and then we had some penalties on it. But, when they got the looks, they hit it and they hit it good. I’ll watch it again on the plane. I think they got a little more than what was blocked for, too. What they continue to do, both of them, Jeff especially in the pass game. Jeff probably would have finished pretty good for us in the end, but he got a little banged up. The two plays that I was calling for Jerick, the screen and the little slant to him, he just went out the play before and Jeff Wilson came in and got both of them. He did just as good as Jerick would have. It’s been cool to watch and it was also nice to get [RB JaMycal] Hasty in there, too.”
You talked about how happy you were for Jason Verrett but it seemed like the Giants couldn’t really challenge you guys down field. How impressed were you, not just with Jason, but also CB Dontae Johnson coming in on short notice?
“That was huge, too. Being down at corner and [CB] Ahkello [Witherspoon] getting hurt in individual last Thursday or Friday and Jason in his first week back, and then losing Moseley during the game to the concussion early, we were down. For Dontae to come in. He was here our first year together. Came back last year and helped us. I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s played a lot of football. He’s been a number of places. The game is not too big for him. He came in there and did his job and I also saw him make a few plays. I think I saw him have a big PBU when he got in. These guys played a lot of football and I feel comfortable with him out there.
How many long snapping attempts does OL Justin Skule get per practice or per training camp?
“I wish I could tell you. I promise you I don’t know. We were just looking at the other options. Obviously, Kyle was struggling in that game. When you struggle, it gets a little bit harder, so we wanted to see who else could to it. [Special teams coordinator Richard] Hightower told me Skule was good at it and [T Mike] McGlinchey is someone who’s good at it, but we put Skule in there at the end and from what I saw it was a pretty good snap and he did a hell of a job and we were able to get that point. “
There was some talk about Nick this week and his improved arm strength. Did you see that, particularly on some of those throws in small windows in the middle of the field? What does that do for his confidence?
“I’m with Nick every day. I know everyone probably hasn’t seen him since last preseason or if you missed then, then it was the year before. I mean I couldn’t tell you. I see him every day. So there’s not a big difference to me. He’s improved in a lot of areas since his first year. Nick has, regardless of his arm strength; he can make every single throw that we need him to make. He did a hell of a job with it today. His arm strength with his preparation and everything – that’s why he gets the ball in the right spots. He doesn’t hesitate. When he sees it, he lets it rip. Not only did he execute a lot of stuff today, but he did a lot of off schedule plays, too. He hit Jerick McKinnon down on that corner late and he was on with that. They covered everyone real well on the front side. I don’t know if he broke the pocket or not, but he hit a corner down the field late and that was huge. I’m real happy with Nick.”