Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 1, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“All right guys, injuries for the week for the game: [WR Brandon] Aiyuk is out, [DL Kevin] Givens is out, [DT Javon] Kinlaw is out, [DB] Tarvarius Moore is questionable, [CB Emmanuel] Moseley’s questionable and [LB Mark] Nzeocha’s questionable. [WR] Deebo’s [Samuel] out, [CB Richard] Sherman’s out, [CB] K’Waun [Williams] is out and [LB Dre] Greenlaw’s out. And that’s it. Go ahead.”

In terms of the Seahawks and being able to sustain their level of success that they have for such a long period of time, what specifically in your mind allows them to be that successful year in and year out? Obviously, the quarterback has a lot to do with that. Is there anything that they do that you try to apply to your own program with the 49ers?

“I think the key to long success is having the right quarterback throughout that whole time and then having a good coaching staff and good personnel department. I think if you look at anyone, whether it’s Pittsburgh, whether it’s New England, whether it’s New Orleans, Green Bay, Seattle, all the teams that have had great quarterbacks over the last decade with good coaches and with good personnel departments, they’ve got a shot to be in the playoffs year in and year out.”

What’s Dre Greenlaw’s injury? What’s his situation, why’s he out? And then can you address the backup quarterback situation? Who’s it going to be on Sunday?

“Yeah, the backup quarterback is going to be Josh. And then Greenlaw had a calf strain. Complained of some calf tightness after practice yesterday. We got an MRI, saw it was strained, so he couldn’t go. The next person will ask me to clarify, so I will, but I want to get all three up. I don’t know if I’ll be able to because [QB] Josh Johnson, we have to flex him. We’re only allowed three flexes or four with the extra O-Linemen. So, just looking at our roster, I’ve got to find out who we have to flex up total just to be able to field 48 guys. If I don’t have to do that, I’m for sure going to get Josh Johnson up. That’s why I haven’t decided on our two. If I can’t get him up, then without a doubt it’ll be the other guy, [QB] Josh Rosen.”

You went through this four years ago when you left Atlanta, but I’m just wondering if there is an etiquette among assistant coaches when they leave a team, as far as which other assistants they bring with them? Is that something that’s discussed? Is there horse trading that goes on or is it every man for himself once you become a head coach?

“No, I mean, yeah I think there’s definitely a respect level and everyone does it differently. It depends where you are. Before I thought about anything, I always went through [former Atlanta Falcons head coach] Dan Quinn and asked him what he was okay with. Plus, you’re not free agents every year. I mean, there are contracts. I know there’s rules with play calling and stuff like that that were implemented this year, but besides that, there’s no decision or trades to be made. You’d like to respect people and I always don’t want to hold people back who, it’s very important to me that people, I didn’t want people to hold me back when I had a chance to improve my career, a chance to help my family out and go forward. That’s why, if you have someone who’s getting a huge opportunity, that’s something that me, [general manager] John [Lynch], I know [CEO] Jed [York], we always want to try to do what’s best for the organization, but we also want to help people out. So, we’ll look into anything, but I also know it’s once you’re a position coach, once you’re a coordinator, there’s not many moves going up. So, when it’s not that case, you’re never going to hurt the Niners just because someone’s excited for a change of scenery.”

How did RB Jeff Wilson Jr. look in practice this week after his busy day against the Cardinals? And then, how do you feel about him and RB Raheem Mostert going into next year as your top two backs?

“He’s had a good week. We went full speed on Thursday and he was able to go, so I’m excited to see him out there Sunday. I’m very excited about those guys. Everyone knows how good they’ve done when they’ve been healthy. I know this year for Raheem, he came out the beginning of the year, to me, even taking a step forward than what he did for us last year. Last year over that eight-game span or whatever it was, I think that’s as good as I’ve ever seen anybody. I thought he looked better in training camp and better in the first couple of weeks until he got that high ankle sprain and then it’s affected him the rest of the year. So, I can’t wait to get that healthy and get him back. Jeff, he’s taken even another step forward. Then we have another group of guys that we do like a lot. I know they’re up and free agents, so we’ll see what the situation is, but having those two guys under contract, for sure. We’ve got two good ones.”

With the kicker situation with K Tristan Vizcaino on the practice squad, is that just a procedural thing or does that indicate that K Robbie Gould could play Sunday?

“No, it’s just a procedural thing so you don’t have to cut someone. That’s what kind of goes into the quarterback situation I was telling you about. We’ve got to flex three guys up and I already know the kicker is going to be one of them. Then I’ll have two more left and we’ll have to decide based off the rest of our team and their health where we put those two extra players.”

The first time you guys played Seattle, they didn’t have Seattle Seahawks S Jamal Adams out there. What’s it like to prepare for them when you’ve had an opportunity to see how they use him and what does he bring to that defense?

“I think it’s completely different. It looks that way on tape. I think it probably looks that way with the numbers. When you have a unique player like Jamal who is the best at what he does, it changes a lot of stuff. I don’t think there’s many players in this league that can affect what you have to do schematically, what the other 10 guys around him are doing like Jamal. You look at like what [Los Angeles Rams CB] Jalen Ramsey has done with the Rams and everything, and the way you can use these physical guys on big people to affect the pass game with blitzes. They can also cover, very good run stoppers. He’s a game changer. One of the best guys in the league right now and having him plus getting [Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin] Shaq back with him, that’s why they’re playing so well. Those two guys make a huge difference. Wish they didn’t have them, but I know why they went and got them because they’re some special players.”

This question is a little esoteric. In terms of your decision-making in the heat of games, what is your process of thinking through things and how you balance your original plans versus going with your gut in the heat of the battle, your mind versus your gut and your thought process?

“That’s what you prepare at all week. You go through every situation possible. You go through all stats and percentages of what they do, and then you watch and how it goes. When it comes the time of the game and when it comes after a big play, you try to get the style of the coordinator, the style of the players. You just take information in left and right. Then there’s a play clock and you’ve got to get it out to the players so they have time to communicate and get to the line and call it. So, there’s not much dialogue going on. It’s reactionary and it’s done through preparation and experience. When you prepare a whole week and you do it week in and week out, you get very ready for that stuff and then if you’ve been doing it for a long time, you have lots of past experiences to draw off of that do change your gut feeling and everything. So, everything. That’s why I’m a hard person to talk to on game day.”

You have four guys on the COVID List right now. Any chance that either of those or any of those four guys are able to make it through to play in the game Sunday? If you could follow up on that with, it seems like it used to be a rare thing that there would be a roster move on a Saturday to impact the game on Sunday. Now, I realize everything that’s going on this year, it’s different, but I think you guys have had roster moves every Saturday of the season. How difficult has that been to just kind of adjust on the fly and get ready to play a game when there’s so many things up in the air?

“Yeah. It’s very difficult. It is for everybody, it is for us. Some games, some years are worse than others. This has definitely been the hardest, I think, for everyone in the league. Without a doubt us and you get used to it. It’s kind of what I think I was saying earlier in the week, I’ve just kind of gotten a little numb to it. I’m used to it. I’ve stayed up on Friday nights and done stuff that changes completely Saturday morning before I even got down to people because I’m getting texts on people you lose. I’ve had it happen on Sunday morning, right before a game goes where you have to change the openers and things like that. So, there’s plenty of stuff that happens, especially with the COVID issues, but I think the hardest thing for us has been this year is how many people got wiped out with injuries right away. When that happens and then you have another guy who might be sore and he’s questionable to go. If you had other people there, it would make it a lot easier, ‘Hey, let’s not make this questionable, let’s sit him for the week and let’s get these other guys going,’ but those other guys aren’t there. Then you can’t just bring in some guys right away, so there’s lots of stuff that you’re kind of pushing it to the last moment because there’s not a lot of options. I have a feeling, when we get to Saturday at one o’clock and you hope nothing else changes, we’ll be dressing the 48 people that we can dress, that are healthy and that can go. I know three or four of them will come from the practice squad and if not, other people get injured or they can’t go, then how do you get those guys up? Then that means you’ve got to cut somebody to get them up. So, you have all those dilemmas that go into this and COVID is throwing it on top of it with everybody. The hardest thing for us has been, we’re already at that standpoint with injuries and so then when COVID comes up, there’s not a lot of options. We just end up putting together whatever we can at the last second.”