Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 24, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening comments:

“Alright guys, injuries from the game. [RB] Jeff Wilson Jr. has an ankle sprain, it ended up not being high, so we’ll see how this week goes, he’s got a chance. [T] Trent Williams also had ankle sprain. His X-rays were negative, it’s similar to what we dealt with last week with [DL] Jordan [Willis]. Just some old stuff in there too, so not exactly sure on him, but we’ll have to manage him, see how this week goes throughout the week. [WR] Deebo [Samuel] took a helmet to the side of his knee/leg on that last play, so he’s sore today, but we expect to see him on the practice field this week. That was it from the game.”

When you guys face a team like the Rams where you are so familiar with their players and their coaching staff, and they’re so familiar with you guys, what are the challenges that face you and what do you have to kind of guard against when facing a team like that for the third time in a season?

“We’ve been through this so much over the last few years, so it’s not much new seeing them the third time as it was the second time, it almost was the first time, just with the coaching staff being the same. And I don’t think there’s many secrets. There’s not much things we can surprise them with and same with them with us, which I think is kind the most fun way. It’ll be two really good teams and a really good football game where you can’t really trick each other. You have to go out and beat somebody.”

When you say Trent Williams has an ankle sprain that’s similar to Jordan Willis’, is it a high ankle sprain that he has or what is he dealing with exactly?

“Yeah, that’s why just like Jordan Willis, you can’t designate it either one. You have to see how the week goes and whether it heals, if it was a high, then I’d rule him out. But there are more components to it, which make it not as easy as Jeff’s, which was like Jordan’s last week. So you just have to wait before you declare what it is. You have to see how it heals, reacts throughout the week, so that’s about all I can say and that’s what we’ll be waiting on to find out.”

As far as the plays where he went in motion, were those plays that were installed especially for this game? And on the second one, it seemed like that those plays were supposed to go to the outside, did RB Elijah Mitchell cut it inside too quickly? Was he supposed to go to the outside? What happened on that fourth-and-one?

“No, the first one was, that was an outside zone play. The second one was power, which usually goes to the outside when everyone plays their gaps right. Starts in the A-gap and it usually ends in the D-gap, which is where Trent is cleaning up. But we got split inside, so Elijah never had the chance to bounce out there.”

With CB Ambry Thomas, is there any update on what his week might look like and how close was he to being able to play on Saturday?

“We were hoping he was going to be close, but by the time he got there we could tell there was no point in working him out. So it ended up not being as close as we hoped for. We know he is doing better today as compared to how he was on Sunday. And I think he has a much better chance at playing this week, but hopefully he’s ready for practice on Wednesday.”

QB Jimmy Garoppolo had his sideline throws, obviously there was an interception and there were a couple kind of near picks, they were kind of floaters. They were all kind of short passes. Were they passes that maybe he just shouldn’t have thrown? Is that a function of anything he is dealing with as far as not having enough zip on the ball?

“No, he was under duress. He’s getting hit as he throws in zero-degree temperatures where most people can’t feel their hands. And he almost did complete them there to the flat, but they do travel there. It can make you nervous. I thought the guy got there early on one of them, but no, that was just part of the day that everyone was kind of dealing with.”

Were the hands being less than fully functional part of the drops in the first quarter?

“Part of whose drop?”

Several of the drops. It seemed like there were just so many in the first quarter.

“Sorry. I thought you talking about Jimmy. Yeah, I think so. Drops happen in games, but I know that I couldn’t have caught anything in that weather. That stuff makes it a challenge for everyone. You can’t use it as an excuse because you know that going into the game and that’s why you spend so much time trying to keep your hands warm and whether it’s on the field or when you’re off sitting on the benches and stuff, but that’s the challenge of those elements. And it didn’t seem like he caught it clean right away. And then when the contact got there, he knocked it out there on [WR Brandon] Aiyuk and [TE George] Kittle I’m sure that had a part to do with it, but it’s obviously one that they both should have caught.”

Just for clarity, last week you said Jordan Willis, at least initially you said he had a high ankle sprain. Did that turn out to be not accurate?

“Yeah. That’s what I said last week, we thought it was more of an old injury. That’s why he was ready to play.”

After the game, DB Jimmie Ward referenced the Super Bowl a couple years ago and said, we could have won that game except the last six minutes and said that you have emphasized finishing, I don’t know since then or just recently. Is there a specific way to coach finishing a game? Have you done anything, installed anything in practice, in camp, whatever, to make sure this team plays very well in the last five-six minutes?

“I don’t think so, there’s not like a practice situation or anything like that. I think players and coaches, usually you should get better through experiences that you have in situations and that was a pretty big one for us there in the Super Bowl. I’ve had, not just in those games, but you have those a ton the more you coach. But those ones when you get that close to something, those are the ones that really stick out in your mind forever. So I know that was a big deal for all our players, a big deal for me, but every time we’re in a game we talk about it, and not just the Super Bowl, about how quickly all these things can change and how quick a game can get out of hand. You go back to our first game this year with Detroit and being up 41 to 17 with a 1:58 left, and we win by eight points and they have the ball at the end. I think we won by eight, but they had it with the last possession. And so the more experience you get on that, you start to realize you should never be comfortable. You should never be comfortable until that game ends. And I think it helps you stay more humble, more grounded and never get too cocky until you get the job done. And that job is never done until you’re shaking hands and the game’s over.”

When you look back at the points in the season when you guys were struggling, when you were 3-5, was there ever a point when you thought about switching to QB Trey Lance and if so how close were you?

“No, there was never a point where I thought of switching to Trey in terms of I think the stuff that I said at the time was the truth. I didn’t think Jimmy was the issue. I thought Jimmy, there was games that he could have played better in, but I didn’t think he was playing the way that everyone was saying. And just watching the tape with our team, I didn’t think our team was there, and I didn’t think it was the best thing for Trey. But when we did have a 3-5 record, I knew we were not one game away, but it was getting close to where the best thing for the team was focusing on some other things and maybe getting some guys some chances to play, but I never felt that at 3-5. But you could see that the games were going to come if we didn’t turn this around fast. And I felt the first time we did that was that game versus the Rams and since then I haven’t had that thought because that got us on a pretty good roll after that. And we’ve never been in that situation since, where you see that nearing.”

Following up on that a little bit, Jimmy has really kind of seemed to confront the situation, really embraced it both with us and with you guys and even to the point where he acknowledged that this could be his last ride with the team. How much does that attitude, like his willingness to just kind of face it head on, how much do you think it has helped him kind of lock in and the team throughout the year?

“A ton. That is the reality we’re at. It’s been that way for a while, since we made that trade and the more that we all can accept it and know it and not beat around the bush, the easier it is to go on with your jobs. And that’s what we’ve all done and we’ve all enjoyed each other as people, we all respect the hell of each other in our profession. And I think it’s just allowed everyone to move on and be themselves. And I think throughout the year, that’s allowed him to get better, it’s allowed our team to get better, it’s allowed me to get better and focus on what we should focus on and just trying to be as good at our jobs as we can.”

I’m sure you’ve heard about how the Rams were restricting who could buy tickets for Sunday. They’ve since lifted that restriction, but have you ever been on that side where you’re the home team and it feels like a road game and if so, what’s that do to the team’s psyche and morale, especially as the game goes along?

“We had that a couple times when I was in Atlanta. A couple times that when we got in the red zone, we had to use a silent cadence and that was my first time ever being somewhere like that and it surprised me because it was my first time, but that’s also why I know it happens. I don’t know, you got used to it, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I know how much it fires us up, how much we love our fans for it. It’s pretty cool to see.”

You’ve been on both sides of the overtime thing where you’ve got the ball and where you didn’t get the ball and the other team just scored. Do you have a feeling either way about how you would like to see the overtimes enforced?

“I think the way we’ve got it is fine. It doesn’t bother me. I think you should be able to stop someone on a touchdown if you want it back. That’s fine to me and I know that it’s real tough not to get it, but I never felt like it wasn’t fair. Those are the rules. I used to think the old one was fine. That was the one I grew up with watching when we had 15 minutes and the first one scored, I didn’t think much was a problem with that. I think I do like the ones better now, but give us the rules and you know the rules and that’s what you go in trying to win the game on. So usually, my mind doesn’t change based off of what happens.”

CB K’Waun Williams and S Jaquiski Tartt and Ward, obviously all around 30 years old, around eight-year veterans. How much has just their experience and understanding of the system helped out in what some have viewed at different points throughout the season as maybe with some cornerback issues?

“I think a lot, those guys are studs and those guys cover a lot of ground, they’ve played together for so long. It’s crazy to think the safeties have played together since high school. But when you throw K’Waun in there and all three of them are interchangeable. Especially Jimmie, he started at corner for us our first year here and how good he does going up there. And sometimes we’ll put him on the slot receiver. Sometimes we’ll put him on the tight end. Tartt is good at doing that stuff. And the more they’ve stayed healthy here, together too, those guys stay healthy and all three of them are on the field for a few weeks together, they’ve become as good of a group that there is. And so they’ve been in out this year, but getting them all back and playing healthy the second half of the season has really allowed us to flourish there with our linebackers and allowed our corners to get healthier and catch up with them.”

Have you had any communication today with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay on his birthday?

“No, we’re not big birthday guys. He never communicated with me, so I held a grudge over it. Just joking. We don’t do birthday things, but I didn’t know about that. I don’t even know what date it is. To tell you the truth. Hopefully he’s celebrating.”