Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – January 1, 2024
San Francisco 49ers
“All right guys, injuries from the game. [RB Christian] McCaffrey had a mild calf strain that’ll keep him out this week. [CB] Ambry Thomas, he had the broken hand going into the game. He is going to have surgery tomorrow on that, so that’ll keep him out this week, most likely. Updates on players who missed the game, [DL] Arik Armstead with his foot and knee, we’ll continue to rest him, get him ready for the playoffs. [TE Ross] Dwelley with his high ankle, we’ll see, but not likely to go this week. [WR] Jauan [Jennings] and [OL] Jaylon Moore, they’re both still in the protocol. [S] Ji’Ayir Brown, his knee, we’ll just continue to rehab and we’ll see how it goes this week. I’m not sure whether he has a chance or not.”
With only dressing 48 players on the roster, are there any other veteran guys such as T Trent Williams or anybody else that you enter this week are pretty much set that they’re not going to play?
“No one’s set right now. I’m still discussing that with coaches and stuff and just trying to figure it all out, what’s best for us. I’ll probably discuss it with those players also. Not as many as you would think. It is really a hard thing to do and it’s not always the best thing to do too. So, we’re going to take everything into account, but it’s still something we’re going to continue talking about throughout this day and tomorrow.”
Is your plan to have QB Brock Purdy start?
“I don’t have that plan yet. We’re still discussing all those things.”
You’ve got two wide receivers on IR. What are the plans for WR Ray-Ray McCloud III and WR Danny Gray?
“They’ll come back in and practice this week. I believe Danny’s got two more weeks. We will take Ray-Ray, we’ll start his window Wednesday as soon as we start practicing. Ray-Ray will have a chance to be up and we’ll see how it goes with Danny.”
You kind of referenced this earlier about it’s not always the best thing to do. What’s your history with the risk of rustiness when guys don’t play for two weeks in a row essentially going into the playoffs?
“I think it can be tough, but it’s not just playing, it’s how much you practice and everything too. You’ve got to make sure that you prepare for games by practicing. We’ve got a game this week on Sunday. When you give guys the game off, practice changes too. That can end up hurting guys a lot and you end up just developing bad habits. I’ve seen it cost a lot of teams. Also, it does give some guys a chance to get healthy. When you do that and you sit people, then some of the names you guys mentioned, but then other people have got to double up and do a lot more because you only get two guys off a practice squad also. If you want to get more than two off practice squad, we’ve got to cut people on a roster and then we don’t get those guys, just to get those guys up. So, it always can end up hurting. You rest players and that sometimes gets more players injured. That’s all that stuff you’ve got to balance out and that’s why there’s not a clear-cut decision on anything. You’ve got to look at each individual, in each situation and play it out as the week goes.”
We’ve seen over the last three years now that RB Elijah Mitchell can miss sometimes a substantial amount of time and then come back and carry a pretty big workload and hit the ground running. What is it about him that enables him to do that?
“When he comes back, he comes back and he’s fully healthy. We thought about him going the week before. He was starting to show some things in practice, but getting one more week, allow him to go with the other guys, I think it got him fully a hundred percent. When Elijah’s a hundred percent, like I’ve always said, he is one of the better backs in this league. He’s going to go in and run like he always does. That’s a skillset he’s always had, since the first day he’s gotten here. When he’s good to go, he always looks like Elijah.”
Is there an estimate on how much time Ambry Thomas will miss with his hand surgery?
“I mean, it would only be this week. I think they even told me before the Washington game that he would get surgery this Tuesday and there could still be an outside chance to play this Sunday. So, I doubt that we would risk that now in this situation that we’re in, but that makes me feel pretty confident for our next game he will be available.”
Would he play with some type of club?
“That’s what he did yesterday. He played with a cast to cover it up and everything. So hopefully the surgery, what they have to do I’m not exactly sure, I don’t look into it that much. But they say he’ll be fine when he comes back and this will help him. He just had to get through that game last night.”
This probably falls under the too early to tell, but do you plan on keeping three quarterbacks up for this game?
“I think you answered your question before you asked that.”
What was the vibe and mood like on the flight home given not just the win, but given that you knew by then that you had clinched the number one seed?
“It was pretty cool. The guys had a good time. It’s funny, you plan to get on and have a good time with each other. I actually was exhausted. I fell asleep for a little bit, woke up, watched the game and went back to the plane and saw a bunch of the guys having fun. A lot of guys were by that time were kind of sleeping or some were still watching it. Some were playing cards. The guys had worked real hard for that and I don’t think we were all expecting to get it last night, so it was a pleasant surprise. I know the guys enjoyed it on the way home.”
Do you see getting the number one seed as a real good competitive advantage since there’s only two teams that get it in the whole playoffs?
“Yes I do. Every game in the NFL is so hard. It’s just being at home is a big deal, but also if you can win that first one, only being one away from the big one. That’s why I think the percentages since the one and two seeds, I think always have been like 75-percent are the teams. I think that’s always been because those guys always got the first Bye. I think that changed last year when just the one seeds got them.”
I think he only had 11 snaps, but what kind of impression did DL Sebastian Joseph-Day make in his first game?
“It was good to get him out there. We definitely liked the guy and liked the player. We’re asking him to do some totally different stuff. The style that he’s played with two gaps and his stances and stuff are just kind of the opposite of what we do. To get him really a half practice where he just got to work on a couple things full-speed for two periods, then for him to go out there and play those 11 plays, I was real impressed with him. He was ready to go, did everything we asked. I bet you he will get a little bit more playing time than that next week.”
Second half defensively, Washington got almost nothing and part of that was because you guys had the ball so much. What did you think changed in the first half to second half on defense?
“Well, I thought we didn’t give up a big touchdown like on the go-route. It wasn’t a touchdown, but that got them down there. When they did get down in the red zone that one time, we had an all-out blitz, I believe on third down. [CB Charvarius Ward] Mooney had a big turnover that was a huge change and we cleaned up on some of those screens and stuff and didn’t give any of that leaky yardage. So, got them off the field fast and we were able to get our run game going and control the ball pretty well.”
I don’t know how much you got to see the end of that Detroit and Dallas game the other night. How often do you have plays or things that might be a little complicated that you have to kind of alert officials to before the game? How much do you kind of walk the line of not trying to be too complicated when you do that?
“Not too much with us just because we don’t put bigs in there very much to play tight end and we don’t do many unbalanced formations. So it doesn’t come up with us as much as I bet it does with other teams. We do a lot of motions and stuff so there’s certain things where we’ll motion right before the snap. I don’t want the officials to think it looks like a false start because it could just to a quick eye and stuff if you didn’t see exactly how he was doing it. So there’s things like that I alert them of, just so it doesn’t come off as a penalty or anything like that. But, we don’t have to do too much. They always ask, do you have any unbalance, do you have anyone reporting in the game? Usually my answer is only if there’s injuries that’ll happen. Don’t have to do it too much.”
With Christian’s mild calf strain, is the sense from the doctors and from Christian that you’re confident he’ll be fine after two weeks of rest? Obviously you get two full weeks now before the playoff game.
“Yes. Yeah, we’re real confident on that. It was good news. Could’ve been a lot worse. We’re happy it’ll take care of him this week. Hopefully he’ll start getting to go during our off week.”
What are the challenges when you go against a defense that has a corner who can erase half the field? That’s what Mooney has been doing for you guys basically all season, but it seems like that’s the case the past few months. Was the expectation that he would hit his stride more in year two when you guys signed him to that big contract?
“Yeah, when you need to avoid a corner and when you’re always trying to think about attacking coverages, pressures, how to get rid of the ball, how to help people get open, but then you’ve got to think of a player to avoid, that always makes it much harder. But yeah, Mooney’s playing like we hoped he would. Just studying him at Kansas City, we thought he was one of the better corners in the League. Going against him there in the Super Bowl and then being able to watch him the next couple years on tape we feel like he’s kind of always played like this. He works at it. I think the more you work at it, the better you get. Once he got a couple picks, now they’ve all started sticking to his hands. So he is just getting more and more each week. I couldn’t be more happy with Mooney. He’s an awesome dude and he is playing with a lot of confidence right now, as he should be.”