Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – October 20, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Alright, injury report: [CB] K’Waun [Williams] is back, he’s full go. [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] is limited. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, not going, knee. [LB] Marcell [Harris] is still on his way back from the doctor. I think he’ll be out at practice, but we’re not sure yet. [T] Trent Williams, has ankle and elbow, he’ll not practice. And [QB] Trey Lance has a knee and will not practice.”

You said Marcell will practice?

“Not sure yet. He’s still at the doctor getting his cast and everything. And when he gets back here, we’ll find out.”

And with Kinlaw, it’s the same knee issue he’s been dealing with?


How did you spend your Bye week?

“Mainly with the family. We went here for a few days, then spent a couple of days with the family, it was cool. My dad got in the ring of honor out in Denver, so I got to go for that, which was special to be at it, but I didn’t necessarily want to be at an away game on my Bye weekend. But I was very glad I got to go to it.”

What kind of 49ers work did you do? What kind of assignments did you give yourself and the coaching staff?

“We look at all situational stuff. Each guy does his own area. I’m always looking in that area. I’ve watched a lot of games and go back over a bunch of stuff. But everyone sticks to their assignments. For short-yardage, goal line, red zone, two-minute, all that stuff.”

How is Jimmy Garoppolo coming along and do you expect him to be ready for Sunday?

“Yeah, it will be good to go out there and go full go today. I know he’s limited because we have to make sure he can do everything, but we’ll have a much better idea today, but I’m pretty optimistic about it.”

Anything about Trey’s knee? Has he gotten a different diagnosis?

“No, the same diagnosis. We were hoping he could go this week. It doesn’t look like it. He might have a chance at the end of the week, but I’d be surprised if he’s not ready to go until next week.”

With something like this do you err on the side of caution? You said you were hoping he was ready to go but do you kind of–?

“No, he works through it and you can take it day by day. When doctors say he’s healthy and he says he’s healthy and there’s no risks, then you go back to practicing.”

At right guard, how secure is OL Daniel Brunskill in the starting role there? Do you want to see other guys competing for that spot during the week, pushing him for that?

“Yeah, he’s secure in terms of, I believe Dan we can win with. So, it’s not that we’re sitting here and trying to replace him or anything. But I always want guys pushing him and we obviously invested in some guys in the draft and we have other guys here, some vets. I think all those guys are pushing him each week and looking better with the reps they have and that’s something I hope continues.”

Is OL Tom Compton the next guy logically in line? Would he be the one to come into a game for example?

“In a game, yeah. Compton is so versatile. That’s why he’s definitely always up, he’s earned that too with how he played throughout training camp, but Compton also can help out, he’s played tackle in this league. He’s played guard in this league, so he’s always a good guy to have up, that I would never hesitate to start. If someone got hurt long-term then we decide with the other guys.”

Given DL Dee Ford’s injury history, with the back injury last year, I assume that’s why he’s played 23 snaps in the last two games. Is that a function of his medical file and do you think that is going to be his role for the rest of the season?

“I hope not. I want him to play more, but you guys know what he’s gone through this last year and a half and it still acts up on him sometimes. So, we have to be very smart with it. He’s been there in mainly passing situations and so, that’s not always dictated by, sometimes there aren’t as many of those situations. Depending on how many third downs guys have and things like that, second-and-longs. But yeah, we want him to go more, but we have to be smart with them too. Happy to have him, where we hadn’t had him for all last year.”

Can other guys, like DL Samson Ebukam or someone else, if Dee is going to be in that role, do you need someone else on that other edge to emerge a little bit?

“Yeah, definitely. You need it on the edge. You need it inside. When you’re at your best, you can do it from both edges and someone up the middle. So, we’ve got a group of guys, who I think are capable of doing it. But I think all of our guys can get better.”

We talked to Indianapolis Colts DT DeForest Buckner today on the phone, just kind of revisiting last year’s trade. And he said that he offered to meet you guys in the middle in contract negotiations. Can you, I guess, revisit briefly how candid you got with him in terms of where you thought he fit with this team and then just how his absence has affected the locker room and the on-field product?

“Yeah, I miss Buck a lot. I knew we would and that was a very tough decision, not one that we wanted to do. One that going through all the situations, looking at the money, the contract of the salary, the salary cap that year, we just came off a big season with how well our defense played and we had a number of guys that were up that year as unrestricted free agents. They weren’t two years away. We also knew we had guys in the future we had to pay so, wanted to keep Buck, bad. But we had to look at all that stuff that went into it and there’s lots of things that go into it, but it wasn’t something we were high-fiving or anything over after it happened. It came down to, ‘Do you want to pay this amount of money to one guy or do you want to keep two of the guys you already have that you will lose and plus add a 13th pick in the draft?’ So, it had nothing to do with not valuing Buck or anything like that. It was the situation of that year and that we didn’t want to lose two players and a 13th pick in the draft. So, a tough decision we had to make.”

Obviously, a huge talking point this week given you’re playing Buckner. I think it wouldn’t be, people would say, ‘oh, good job,’ because if Kinlaw, looked like, not the next DeForest Buckner, but a top-level starter. Obviously, it’s very early in his career, but where do you view his development and with his knee issue is that a chronic thing?

“Yeah, that’s a big concern this year and it’s nothing against him, but it’s been unfortunate with him. So, his development right now is on hold. I was real excited with how he started at the end of last year. Those last few games, especially at Dallas, I thought that was one of his best ones, the Rams game. I think a couple of weeks before, I’m not sure how many, but I thought he was starting to turn into that player and had a bad injury at the end that we thought would heal up fast. And it’s affected him all through this year. So that’s a setback now and that’s why he’s behind the eight-ball this year. But I don’t think his story is totally finished being written yet.”

He is maybe like the most explosive player as far as defensive tackles go coming out of the draft, just known for that burst. Has he had to kind of adapt to maybe not having that, managing the knee injury?

“Yeah. The whole year has been managing it and that’s why I know he’s been frustrated. Because no one’s upset with Kinlaw right now. It’s been unfortunate with what happened and the setbacks of some of the surgeries. And when you think it’s right, just that it hasn’t been out there on the field so we’ve had to really manage them throughout training camp, throughout the season hoping that would get it better. And it just hasn’t so far.”

 How difficult is it when you have a guy who comes here kind of raw to not get those practice reps to be able to improve and work on his game?

“It’s extremely difficult and that’s why we’ve got to get his knee better, so he has a chance to develop and turn into the player that we know he is.”

What stands out about the Colts?

“It’s a team I respect a lot. They’ve got some good players. You can tell they’re coached very well. They’ve got some talent on offense, especially with their quarterback [Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz], with their running back [Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor], and getting [Indianapolis Colts WR] T.Y. [Hilton] back. They can make a lot of plays. Their defense, they thrive off turnovers, starting with 53 [Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard] in the middle and then Buck up front. It runs through those two guys and they’ve given up a little bit of yards, but I think they’re fourth in turnovers and that’s why they’ve got a chance in every game they’re in.”

Another Kinlaw question. When he had that surgery, the team described it as a routine cleanup procedure. Did it turn into more than that or were there underlying issues?

“No, there was clean up stuff, but I know he had a setback on a couple things. So, as you know with me, I don’t know the exact history of it, especially going back the whole year. But I knew getting calls on vacation like ‘Hey, he had a little setback here. It didn’t heal right, so we got to go back into it.’ A couple of things like that”

Did he have a second procedure?

“I’m not exactly sure.”

What was Trey able to do this week? Is it all VR reps?

“Yeah, he’s all in the rehab room. I think he’s going to get out there after practice today and be able to throw a little bit, but we’ve been keeping him off his legs on the field from doing drops and everything.”

What progress have you seen week to week from RB Elijah Mitchell and RB Trey Sermon as far as finding the right hole and making the right decision and getting the yards that you want to be there, to be had?

“I think they’re getting used to this league. I think Elijah came out pretty strong in his first game and his second game he played and battled through that bad injury at the end there. And he’s really just getting back going. I think this Bye week helped him even heal up more. But I was happy with how tough he played coming back from a pretty tough injury and he’s taken away from Trey a little bit. He hasn’t gotten as many reps, I’m going to say the last week or two weeks, that we’ve played, but Trey has gotten better in each game he has gotten in.”

How do you envision LB Mychal Kendricks helping you guys? What do you see his role being?

“We don’t have a ton of depth at linebacker. We’ve had some guys hurt. He’s a guy who’s hopped in. He’s had a very good career. We’ve had to play against him. And I used to play against him all the time, back in Philly when I was in the NFC East. But the way he hopped in at Seattle and filled in a great role for them for a couple of years. As you know, not sure about Marcell this week, so I’m glad to have a veteran here like that. We’ve got [LB Demetrius] Flannigan-Fowles still up and a couple of guys on practice squad, but that’s some depth that we need and it’s always good to get a guy in here who’s done it before.”

Does he have special teams value at this point too?

“Yeah. I mean, you have to. If you get up, you have to play special teams. It’s not something he’s done a ton in his career because he’s been out there as a starter so much, but it’s something he’s willing to do.”

Over the first five games during the Bye week, is there one area you feel like your team really needs to improve the most to kind of get where you guys want to go?

“No, there’s a number of areas. We’ve got to get more turnovers on defense, have to be better in the red zone there. On offense, I think we have to be much better in situational football. We have to be much better throwing and catching. I’d like to generate a few more explosive runs. I think we’re running the ball somewhat decent, but if you don’t get big runs you’re never going to have those numbers. And then it just comes down to execution in some real critical situations.”

What do you think, I know every situation is different, but it seems like in a lot of the situations there’s been not only one thing that goes wrong. Do you have like an explanation, just looking back on film on why you haven’t been able to execute the way you want?

“Yeah. Just like you said in your question, there’s not one answer. You can go to each position, whether it’s a drop here, whether it’s a misread there, whether it’s a false start, whether it’s whatever. It’s cumulation, you need to play better football. And that’s what we’re trying to do. You’ve got to go out there and you don’t need to make stuff up. But you’ve got to play better and everyone’s going to make mistakes in games, but how can you eliminate those? And one thing we talk about in here a lot is doing right longer. You have to do right longer than the other team. And I don’t think we’ve done that close to enough.”

Last year you guys found different ways to get WR Brandon Aiyuk the ball. I think there were 14 passes behind the line of scrimmage, including some of those jet sweep runs. What’s your process when it comes to deciding how we’re going to use a guy with those plays in mind?

“Brandon is an option on that and he does a good job on that stuff. I think we went to him a ton when, especially when we were missing [TE George] Kittle and [WR] Deebo [Samuel]. So I know when we have those guys, it takes a little bit away from him. But you always try to give it to the guys who you think you have the best look and you think you can do the best with it. And Brandon’s one of those options.”

It hasn’t happened here a lot, but we are expecting rain on Sunday. Does that factor into the gameplan just because you’re not used to playing at home in rain?

“No, I wouldn’t mind it raining a couple of days here in practice. I hate to ruin our field, but it’s always good to get some work in it, but I can’t make a big deal about it. You’ve got to go out there and be aware and you’ve got to protect the ball and be smart. And in that way, all rainstorms a little bit different. So, you see how it is and how the game’s going and you adjust to it.”

When first you got here in 2017, you were asked why you didn’t keep former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. And you said, ‘well, you want the same style of quarterback. If you have two different style of quarterbacks, you have two different styles of offenses and you don’t really master anything.’ Is any of that going on right now with your offense, two different style of quarterbacks, two different styles of offenses and that’s why you’re not executing the way you have in the past?

“When you do that, there’s a lot of truth to that. And that’s why I said that whenever you can remember me saying it. But that’s what you practice in training camp, but that’s the big thing with, that’s one reason I really like Trey. I don’t think you have to do a totally different offense. I think Trey can add a lot to your offense and you can do a lot of different things that you might not be able to do with a guy who doesn’t have the athletic ability in terms of running like Trey does, but you don’t have to do a whole new offense. But you have to give the guys a chance to develop a few different things. But you never want to get away from your foundation.”