Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 10, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening Comments:

“Alright guys, injuries from the game. [S Jaquiski] Tartt had a groin. Got positive news from the MRI, so we’ll see where he is on Wednesday. [P] Mitch Wishnowsky is still in the protocol. [S Talanoa] Hufanga irritated his same knee, we’ll see where he is Wednesday. He’ll still have a chance. [RB] Elijah Mitchell has nothing worse, but it’ll be the same plan with him this week with his knee, with being limited. [QB] Jimmy Garoppolo made it out of the game in good shape. It’ll be a similar plan for him this week also. That was it from the game.”

Do you expect CB K’Waun Williams to have a full week of practice and be available on Sunday?

“Yeah, I didn’t get to talk to him today, but yeah. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t good to go Wednesday.”

Do you kind of feel like at this point in the season, you’re about as healthy as you possibly could be?

“Yeah, I do. Just from the game, all those guys that we mentioned, they’re some big guys, but just having the chance to get all those guys back this week and being able to add a few guys there last week, especially with [LB Dre] Greenlaw, was huge. Hopefully we’ll get the guys that missed with [RB] Trenton [Cannon] back and maybe [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair], maybe [LB] Marcell [Harris]. But yeah, I feel pretty good at this point, compared to earlier in the year.”

How close was T Trent Williams to coming back?

“It seemed real close, because he took it all the way as far as he could, but there was no chance of going once he did that. He wasn’t going to be in good enough shape to protect himself or the quarterback in the game. So I know it was tough on him, but I think he was as excited as anyone after we won. Because he is going to do everything he can and I think he just needs seven more days.”

Are you expecting him to practice Wednesday or are you kind of in wait and see mode on that one too?

“Oh, I’m totally wait and see. I’d probably be surprised if he does, but we’ll see how it goes. I know he couldn’t today.”

How did Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn impact you as a coach and what’s it going to be like going up against his defense this week?

“Dan Quinn is one of the best coaches I’ve been around. One of the best people I’ve been around. I’ve got as much respect for him as anyone I’ve ever worked with. I haven’t jumped into it at a ton yet. It doesn’t surprise me how much he’s helped them this year. And they’ve got a real good one and I have a feeling he won’t be in that position very long.”

You had a lot of guys that came back and were immediately productive for you like Dre Greenlaw, CB Emmanuel Moseley. What can you say about the fact that they can just jump in like that? It didn’t seem like they had much rust.

“That’s something that’s hard to understand, because not many human beings can relate to that. That’s just a special thing by those guys. The work that they did to get themselves the opportunity to do that. Dre, it has been so frustrating for him since the beginning of this year and just all the ups and downs he’s had and he’s been doing everything he can to get back. And E-man, just having that high-ankle sprain a month ago and how hard that is to come back from and watching him work here on the side this last month. They’ve been on a mission to try to get back, whether for one game, two games, it didn’t matter. And for us to win that game versus Houston was huge because it gave those guys an opportunity that they were waiting for. And those guys came in and they played as hungry as it seemed like they were to get out there and it’s been real tough to win without them.”

On Moseley’s interception and CB Ambry Thomas’s interception, what did you think when those balls were in the air going deep? And then what did it look like from film in terms of their technique when you watched it today?

“Ambry was perfect. He stayed on top the whole time. You’re in three-deep, you’ve got a bailing corner and [Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew] Stafford, it looked like he just threw it up to give [Los Angeles Rams WR] Odell [Beckham Jr.] a chance and I thought it was awesome how quickly Ambry read the ball in the air and he was able to react on it much quicker than the receiver, get the pick and end the game. And Moseley was great too, he was outside and they tried to sneak the slot receiver behind him and they might have had a step on him, from inside out, but when it’s that deep and that far away, the man travels faster than the ball. And E-man was able to catch up with it, run through it and make the play. And that’s one of the harder things to do when you’ve been off a while, because you don’t get to catch a lot of balls and judging the trajectory of the ball that far down the field takes a little bit of time, but that was a huge pick for him and both of them were huge plays.”

That game took everything and it took 68 minutes and all your energy and you have to go on the road for the second-straight week and your Bye was, I think, the earliest in the NFL in Week 6. Will you have kind of a different schedule this week just to account for some of the wear and tear at this point?

“We’ve kind of been doing that the last three weeks. The last month anyways. So, nothing will change this week compared to last week. We’ll just be heading out there on Friday and I got to see the players some today. They’ll come in here on Wednesday. We usually have a half-speed on Wednesday, get a full practice on Thursday and another half one on Friday. But our guys are in a good place, nothing about them seems tired right now. They’re pumped for this opportunity and they were real excited to come to work today.”

With WR Deebo Samuel, it seems like he just has a sort of unparalleled knack and instinct for the game. He adjusted on that deep throw to him where it looked like he was going to the corner and came back at the end of the fourth quarter and just breaks off every single tackle. Are you just sort of in awe of the things he does, just his knack for the game every single week?

“Yes. Yeah. Deebo is one of the most aware of people I’ve been around and one of the smarter receivers I’ve been around. It’s extremely natural to him. He works hard, but not the stuff that you can’t work at, just how he sees it live and the feel he has and the poise as he has. That’s what is so cool. You see a lot of guys play pretty physically in this league, but guys have to really go to a certain place to get to that level and Deebo doesn’t, that’s just naturally who he is. He’ll be asleep right before kickoff and he’ll come out and not hesitate on the first play. So when you’re like that, it allows your heart rate to be level, your breath to be level and you have a certain point to you, so you can kind of do the more instinctual stuff and yet still be violent enough to play at the level he does. It’s not something you see in a lot of athletes.”

When you were watching him at the Senior Bowl three years ago and thinking about him before the draft, were you guys at all contemplating running back saying to yourselves, ‘Oh wow, this is a guy that we might have some position versatility with,’ just given what he did in Mobile?

“No, not really. I would like to say we did, but we definitely didn’t try him at running back there and we never really saw it from him in college. We knew going into that draft, we had to get a receiver and made the decision to not go the free agent route. And we spent our money in some other places and we knew we had to go get a receiver and just looking at the group that we had at the time, we thought it was so important, regardless of what type of receiver we added, that we had to add a physical guy. A guy who could kind of intimidate guys with just how he played, with his size, breaking tackles, things like that. And that’s why we really liked Deebo, whatever his pluses and minuses were, we knew that he was a physical guy and that’s why we knew we needed to add him to our group. And to [assistant general manager] Adam [Peters], he was that from the beginning and we just found out more about him as we went. And to be able to use his physicality as a receiver has been huge, but now that we’ve been able to add the running back part, it just makes it so much easier to get the ball in his hands.”

You were around the Niners in the 90s when they were going up against Dallas so often in the postseason. I’m just wondering what are some of your memories of that rivalry back then and what it means to you now to get a chance to kind of be part of it in a different way?

“Oh, I think that’s as cool as it gets because that’s the coolest part of my childhood growing up I feel like. My senior year in high school, my dad was with the Broncos and we were able to beat the Packers in the Super Bowl, which was unbelievable. But before that it was seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, every single year. I thought we were the best team in the league. I think it was 14-2, [NFL Hall of Fame QB] Steve Young wins the championship and we played Dallas, who I think was 10-6 or 11-5. And I remember being on that sideline and just watching how good the Cowboys were and it was unbelievable. And the next year, going to Dallas for the home field advantage. And we all know what happened there, that one wasn’t even close. And then the third year, you know in free agency, they got [Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator] Ken Norton [Jr.], they added [NFL Hall of Fame CB] Deion Sanders in Week 3. And then to have that game at home where [Former 49ers CB] Eric Davis started it off, I think, with a pick-six. They had Deion follow around [Former Dallas Cowboys WR] Alvin Harper because he had hurt the Niners in those two years previously. [NFL Hall of Fame WR] Michael Irvin went off, but they limited Alvin Harper, which was good. And Eric Davis made those plays and made a little comeback at the end. I think there was a fumble on the opening key kickoff or something, but as you can tell, those games I still remember them and I’ve never watched them. Those are part of my childhood, that was such cool football because everyone knew that for those three NFC championships, those three years were the Super Bowl.”

Teams around the league, they’re cleaning the house with their coaching staff and their front office. Do you expect them to come poach on your staff, whether it’s defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, or Adam Peters. Focusing on DeMeco Ryans, have you seen any head coach-like qualities out of him, just one year into the job?

“Oh, definitely. I’ve seen head coach qualities out of DeMeco when he was a player. When he was a quality control, when he was a linebacker coach and now when he is a coordinator. So he’s always had those qualities, it’s just about him getting the reps and getting the experience. It’s a matter of time with him. And he has already got enough, so if a team comes calling, they’ll get a hell of a one, but I don’t want to lose him yet. So hopefully for my sake, and the Niners’ sake, they let him get a few more years here, but I know he’s ready. And I feel the same way about Mike. We’ve got a good staff here. And what A.P. has done for us in our five years here and how much he’s helped us build this. What [director of player personnel] Ran Carthon has done. We’ve got a lot of guys here who I feel very fortunate to have.”

The rivalry, it was such a big part of your childhood. Do you think that with this locker room, it was a long time ago, that the gravity of it all is understood by these players?

“Not at all. I wish I could say yes, but some of these players were born in the 2000s. So you like to think so, but every day in the quarterback room, when I ask certain questions like, ‘Have you seen Wedding Crashers?’ And they don’t even know that sometimes. I get very surprised at the difference in some of this stuff, but our guys know how big of a deal the playoffs are and our guys are pumped for this game, no matter who we’re playing.”

The margin between making the playoffs and not making them was obviously so tiny this year. Have you had time to just reflect on some of the small contributions, I’m talking guys like OL Tom Compton on the offensive line or maybe even what OL Colton McKivitz did yesterday? Do you have time to reflect and appreciate that if you don’t get that, you probably don’t make the playoffs?

“Oh, without a doubt. I feel like I’m aware of that as anyone. Maybe even more than they are. What guys have done here to keep this going for us, from the guys you just mentioned to what [CB] Darqueze Dennard did yesterday. [CB] Dontae Johnson, playing nickel, and then all of a sudden going to safety, which he doesn’t take any reps at and getting 27 reps at safety. It’s been unbelievable by a ton of our guys. [K] Robbie Gould punting yesterday and the punt that forced the fair catch when we had a 0.4% chance of winning, which surprises me. We did have three timeouts. I feel like it should have been higher than that. But I love our team and it’s something that we point out a lot and it’s usually what would be on tape when we watch it together.”

Each season is its own entity, but your first four years you had the Super Bowl season and then for whatever reason, maybe the roster wasn’t ready or injuries, the other seasons didn’t work out. But being able to battle through injuries and adversity this season, I don’t know if you rank them, but is this in some ways your most gratifying season as a head coach?

“I don’t know. The season is still going on, so I haven’t even thought about it. You do that when it’s all said and done. And I know that ‘19 season was extremely special, just the team we had and the way we did it and how close we were. And I know we were all pretty heartbroken with the last six minutes of that year, so it’s hard to up that one. And I also know we didn’t go into that year with people expecting us to do anything. But this is a special year too. Last year there was a lot of things that were tough about it and that were extremely disappointing, but I don’t totally label those type of things as not successful. Yeah, you don’t reach your goals and that’s tough, but I feel a lot of what we went through last year built us for this year. I think everything’s kind of connected to each other and each season’s a whole new entity, but it’s important that you go through those things, the good and the bad. And we’ve been through a number of good and bad things in the five years that I’ve been here. And this season, we’ve been through a number of good and bad things. And you look at the game yesterday, you go through a bunch of good and bad things, and it’s about just fighting and not worrying about it and doing whatever you can to come out on top. And I’m just pumped that we’re still fighting. We’ve still got a game this week that’s guaranteed to have at least this one. And I want to make sure that we put all the work in this week and we leave it all on the field, so when it’s said and done, hopefully we get a chance to play again.”

To clarify, has anybody come and requested to interview any of your coordinators or Adam Peters or Ran?

“No one’s told me that yet today. If that changes, I’ll have someone get it to you.”