Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 29, 2024

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Alright guys, injuries from the game, [CB] Ambry Thomas had an ankle. He’ll be day-to-day. [TE] George Kittle had a toe. He’ll be day-to-day. That’s it.”


What’s your plan as far as how you work these guys this week? At what point do you install fully your game plan?

“We had them in today. They’re still in right now. We’re just finishing this game right now. We’ll give them the next two days off. Then we’ll start our practice week and game plan here Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So when the players come back after their two days off, which will be Thursday, we should have the game plan in by then.”


Is is that one of the things you learned from the last trip there was to pretty much do all your main work here in Santa Clara before traveling to Vegas?

“We did that last time too. We did it that way when I went in Atlanta. Growing up, all the teams that I’ve talked to, that’s one of the most important things. When you wait to do stuff there, it just gets too hectic. So you can always change things and tighten it up, but you want to get most of your heavy work done before you get there.”


On the podium with Fox Broadcaster and former New York Giants DL Michael Strahan, you said something to the effect of you’ve had unfinished business for a long time now. How does it feel in terms of being back in the Super Bowl? Has it felt like it’s been a long road, a short road, somewhere in between? What has kind of this journey been like for you?

“There’s been a lot of good things, but the ultimate goal, we always say it, there’s only one team happy at the end of the year. We’re real proud of a lot of things that we’ve accomplished here in the last five years or so. We still want to be that one team that’s happy. No matter what you accomplish, if you don’t win that Super Bowl, it’s always disappointing. I think that’s really what I meant. We’ve felt that, we’ve gotten close and we’re real proud that we’re back in this situation. But we also know how it feels when you don’t get it done. So we want to go and make sure to get it done this year.”


Have you kind of turned the page already after last night’s win or are you still kind of reveling it in a little bit?

“Five minutes before I came in here, I just finished with the quarterbacks. So now I’m pretty much done with it. We got to finish that all today. Go through with the coaches, go through it with the players. Our guys are going to have some Super Bowl meetings for their families and everything with tickets and stuff like that here at about 4:30. So, get all that stuff out of the way because that can be extremely hectic if you don’t handle your business here today and tomorrow. So yeah, we’re done with the tape. It’s really just hitting me now, but we’re done with yesterday too. It’s all time to move ahead.”


With WR Jauan Jennings’ one handed catch on that third down, how much does that just exemplify what he means to this team and really how he has stepped up these last two weeks?

“I think totally. Just that type of catch, that type of play, almost any of the plays Jauan makes really shows you exactly how he is. Whether it’s a run play, a great catch going over the middle and the way he gets hit and pops back up. Jauan plays with more heart and passion than anybody out there. We feed off it. I think everyone notices it.”


What were your main teaching points for QB Brock Purdy during your meeting with the quarterbacks?

“We just go through each play. We can stay on one play forever. So there isn’t really one main one. We talk about coverages. We talk about reads. Everything. Footwork. Technique. What you could see. What’s on this look, but would take you to different receiver based off of how he viewed it. It’s really hard to answer that directly because we talk about everything, every play, so it never stops.”


You’ve had about 24 hours now to kind of digest WR Brandon Aiyuk’s crazy catch yesterday. Have you ever coached in a game with a play like that as impactful as that? Have you had a chance to kind of process where that might stand in 49ers history just given the magnitude of the moment?

“I think it could. We have to finish the year out, but that was amazing. Even the second or third play of the game when we threw him the slant and go, the corner was bailing and usually when it happens, we like to say he is just chasing a ghost. For him to dig out like that and make sure it wasn’t a pick was huge. The next one was very similar, but he dug out and got a little bit closer to it and to be able to make that play was so big. I didn’t think he was going to ever recover. He seemed like he was yelling at me the whole time to challenge it because he just knew that he scored, but I was told he didn’t. So that’s why I didn’t. I think they ended up touching him, but he ended up scoring three plays later. So it was awesome. It was as big of a play. BA made two huge plays on third down last week with two low throws that probably would not have been able to win without those two plays. When we were down in this game and it seemed like they were running away with it early Brock made an off-schedule throw and BA almost came down with another low catch and missed it. That was a big one. For him to come back and completely redeem himself and even more with one of the best catches I’ve ever seen in the biggest moments was we will all be hugely grateful for our whole lives.”


Last time you were in the Super Bowl, you had two pretty one-sided playoff wins where you ran the ball 89 times. Is there any advantage to having two gut check games this time as you go in or is each game just their separate entity?

I always think when you go through stuff like this it hardens you and prepares you for any situation. You want to be able to go through tons of games and be able to win games any way possible. I always feel we’re capable of winning a game any way possible, but it just hasn’t gone that way this year totally. We’ve been able to win a bunch of games pretty easily where that fourth quarter isn’t so stressful. The ones that we lost usually you could see that happening earlier before that too. So to get in some games like this, it’s just good experience for our players to go through it and to make sure to see how important it is to go through all four quarters win or lose that you’re never out of it.”


I know some teams bring in consultants heading into the Super Bowl. I think the Eagles did with current Eagles Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio last year. Would you bring in a defensive consultant like one of these ex-head coaches that are out of work like former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick or former Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carol or former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel or former Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera?

“No, I haven’t really thought about that yet. So I wouldn’t say never, but not right now. I’m not thinking about it.”


You’ve had matchups with Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid that have been challenging in the past. What makes him and his system so difficult to play against?

“Well, Andy’s done it for so long and always had success going all the way back to Philly. Being in the NFC West when I was at Washington for four years. Three of the four years we went against him. So he’s always been so tough to go against and just how he spreads it around. The formations. He’s always changing and staying on top of stuff. Then you give him the type of quarterback that he has and it’s definitely not a coincidence on how many games they’ve won together and how they seem to be in the situation every year.”


T Trent Williams at one point had was using three lockers. He’s now down to two. He has a two name plates, one says Silverback. He has a rope. Have you ever seen anything quite like this? Do you know kind of the origin of this?

“To tell you the truth, I know it surprises you, but I actually haven’t seen it. I walk by it a lot, but I haven’t looked in there. Just like I don’t look as hard into every little thing about injuries like a doctor or you would. I also don’t with Trent’s locker. But it doesn’t surprise me. Trent’s earned it. He’s also a big guy. We don’t give people many lockers. He didn’t ask. But I’m sure none of the players have a problem with it. Trent can get away with that.”


Does that kind of speak to the status and the respect that he has in the locker room?

“I think Trent has as much respect, not only from our locker room but also this league. People know how good Trent is. They know how special of a player he is. They know how physical he plays, the way he plays and and especially our own team. Just with his age. How long he’s done it and still the level he does it at and the way he carries himself. Trent’s a good dude who’s smart, handles everything right. There’s no BS to him. I got as much respect that he has earned from playing, but also how he carries himself in our locker room as anyone on our team.”


Brock’s sack avoidance might be the least talked about trait that he has, but it’s a skill that saved your offense on multiple occasions during the year. Do you remember when the first time you noticed that skill? Can you just talk about the importance of a QB needing to avoid a sack in today’s game?

“Yeah, the first time he got in the preseason you could see him do it. Then I always go back to his first NFL game with Miami. He made some plays moving around when they were blitzing the heck out of him. It’s so huge. You always want a guy who can sit there and get the ball to the right people every single time and find that hole in the defense and make those throws standing in there and being accurate. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s impossible to get to number three without someone beat. When you do have a quarterback who’s got a knack for when to do it. He doesn’t do it a ton and just give up on open plays. He’s got a natural ability of when to give up on the play. When to make a guy miss. When to turn it off schedule. No matter what happens, he gives you a chance. Everyone knows because everyone saw it, but those plays he made with his feet last night in the second half that was a problem for the defense and they had some good coverages on. He kept the chains moving and also found a way to get some explosives doing it too.”


Are you seeing some a common denominator on some of the outside runs that the Packers and the Lions were running?

“Yeah, we haven’t done very well, it’s been the common theme, on them. But people are going to get the edge when they block down on a defensive end. I thought there was a couple ones. I thought we did better with the crack tosses. There was a reverse yesterday on the fourth play of the game, one that we do a lot. The one that we call dope. That’s a really tough reverse to stop. They pull a guard, they block two people down, which will get the edge, you will pin the defensive end, which they got with [DL Nick] Bosa. They’ll block down on the next guy. Then they have a guy kick out. Then you need pursuit on the field and that play was disappointing to me because I thought our pursuit was as bad as it’s been all year on both the two long runs. We did get the edge, not with the defensive end because they blocked down on him, but we get it with the next guy to turn it back. When he turned it back, our pursuit wasn’t there. That was the biggest disappointing thing about both those touchdown runs.”


On some of those plays the defensive end seems to be crashing down automatically. Is that the proper way to handle that? Are they coached to do that on some of those plays and on others they’re kind of taking better care of the edge?

“Yeah, it depends on which play because they’re all different. But like the reverse touchdown, it was a pulling guard with a fake away. So it looks like it’s a run away and the tackle comes down. So you should be crashing down. Then you get the reverse to the wideout going the other way. So they turn back right into the pin block. The ones that immediately happen, they want to go at it, but they’re still going to get pinned. The defensive ends, it’s not defensive ends. When you crack down on that you are getting outside. It’s our force player. That could be a cloud. It could be a strong safety in three deep. There’s different things you can do with that. That’s why there isn’t one clean answer. It depends on the scheme, depends on offensively and depends on the fronts and coverages you’re playing. But for the most part, whoever is setting the edge, which it usually isn’t the defensive end, our defensive ends are setting the edge when people aren’t blocking down. But it’s our clouds. It’s our safeties. It’s the pursuit of the backside because when someone does block down, that means someone’s picked. And when someone’s picked, everyone else can run over the top. We just have gotten crease too much and we better figure out a way to fix it.”


Five months ago when we were in Las Vegas, I don’t recall many players talking about maybe setting up a goal or at least publicly talking about coming back for the Super Bowl. Did you guys go over that at all?

“I can’t exactly remember. Every year we start, we know that’s our goal. Every team usually talks that way. You always know when you have a true chance at that. We felt we’ve had a chance really every year since ‘19. So we try not to talk about it. Our biggest thing always we try to talk about is winning our games and our divisions so we can get in the tournament. Then we look to the next thing with the playoffs and trying to give our best situation in the playoffs and kind of one step at a time. We kind of hit all those goals this year. We just hit our second to last one last night. We got one left. We would’ve been disappointed if we didn’t get to this point and we’re going to be disappointed if we don’t finish the job in two weeks. So that’s kind of how it goes in this league. Hopefully we’ll end it the right way and take a few months off and do the same thing in training camp next year.”