Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – October 21, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center


Opening comments:

“What’s going on today with you guys? There’s usually only like four here. Alright. Injuries guys: [DL Arik] Armstead will be out, [CB Charvarius Ward] Mooney will be questionable, [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huff will be questionable. Go ahead.”

How much work did RB Christian McCaffrey get out there today and does he look like he could play on Sunday?

“He didn’t get any. He came out like halfway through practice, so we just got loose. He watched it all and then our coaches stayed with him after just to get a small workout in and teach him a few things.”

Sunday then?

“I don’t know. I haven’t even talked to him, so I know it’s not a physical thing. He’s got practice in this week, so I’m going to meet with him whenever you guys let me out of here and we’ll kind of figure it out then.”

Could you say what the factors are that go into the decision of whether or not he can play on Sunday?

“Just talking to him like where he would be in the offense and stuff. I’ve got to talk to the other coaches. I mean this happened last night, it’s not like everyone knew it was happening. So, it factors into special teams, who we can get up, who’s down. There’s no way he could be ready to, anyone can get up and have a limited package, but what happens with an injury and stuff when someone has to go in and do everything and those are the things we’ve got to really think through.”

What excites you the most about the dynamic he adds to your offense?

“I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do. Just whether it’s in the pass game, the run game, blocking, I think he’s a very talented player. And just watching how he plays, he’s a very smart player. He always gets to the right hole, is very smooth, and we’ve seen that at every level he’s played in.”

Kind of similar to that question, but general manager John Lynch referred to him as like the perfect player for your system. What makes him the perfect player for your system?

“I think he’s a real good player in every system and that’s John, I think there’s a lot of, I mean, any really good player is perfect player for our system. But I mean, he’s a very good runner so he’s going to be good in everything. He also has very good hands. He also has separation ability in the pass game. And I also think he’s a guy, just mentally, who can handle a lot. So, the more guys can handle, the more you put on them.”

You’ve talked in the past about how what the Rams have done has kind of buoyed your confidence in making similar moves to this and then also trying to keep guys from them. How much did that play into this? I know it’s not the reason, but you know, is it a reason?

“I mean, it’s definitely a bonus. I think everybody would love the opportunity to have a player like Christian. And so, I think everyone looks into it, but it’s also nice to keep a good player away from the team that we have to compete with year in and year out. So that definitely helps. I think just, it’s not just the Rams but watching a number teams over the years in the last, since we’ve been here, just make trades and stuff and some work, some don’t. But it just wasn’t like how I think it was for all of us 10 years ago to go, even 15 years ago when that stuff was unheard of. You didn’t even discuss it. It’s always a risk in everything you do and sometimes it’s a risk not doing it. But anytime you have examples, like I think we’ve had a bunch of them the Rams have given them to us almost every year, the examples, but I watch other teams who have done it too and you get to make, it’s nice to watch people do it and see what’s good from it, what’s bad from it and that’s why I like how, I like that it’s not how he used to be in that that was always out of the discussion.”

John said that his first conversation with Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer about Christian was in West Virginia. Do you remember your first conversation with John when it became, kind of put on your radar, like this is a possibility?

“I mean, we’ve mentioned it to each other since probably any of you guys heard about it. I mean anytime the trade, anytime you get close to the trade deadline, I think just media wise and stuff, there’s always five names or whatever that come up. So, when always that happens and every friend calls me right away or texts me or my wife says right away, hey, this guy’s available, you got to go get him. You never take it that seriously because it rarely happens. But you hear it all and you kind of just soak it in and then sometimes it gets realer as it gets closer, and I say it was here in just the last, we talked about it just three weeks ago, but I’d say in the last couple days we started realizing, trying to see a vision where we thought it made sense and thought it was the right thing to do and so we got a little bit more aggressive as it went and then John was able to finish it off.”

Did you talk to assistant coach Bobby Turner about it, about Christian just to get his opinion of him?

“Yeah, I randomly ask guys, they don’t really know why I’m asking. It’s kind of casual. It’s not like an awkward, go close the door and ask them, that’d be obvious. But it’s, do you still like him? Because I know he did in college. What’d you think of when we played him a couple weeks ago? Just things like that. How do you compare him to people? And then today a lot of them came up to me and understood why I was asking things.”

John said that getting someone during the season can be tricky, but you did it three years ago with former 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders and you thought that he had helped you get where you wanted to go. Is this similar to that?

“Yeah, I mean it all depends on the player. I mean, Emmanuel came in and, like we hoped, like he looked on tape, I mean he was talented, but he was such a pro in terms of he picked things up fast. If you played in this league you start to, you can relate to almost everything wherever you go. You’ve got to figure out what people call it. Then you got to understand like, even though it might be the same play, we call it something different, do they view it a different way or do they coach in a different way? Those are things you’ve got figure out and Emmanuel was awesome, he figured it out in a week and then helped a lot of the other young guys figure it out better who’d been here for a while, and I think Christian will be very similar in that way.”

John mentioned that you don’t do this deal unless you have faith in your roster. I’m assuming that’s to win the Super Bowl. Was there, even before Christian’s name came up or even while, were you guys thinking maybe you’re one piece away from being a Super Bowl favorite?

“No, I don’t look at it at all that way. I think we’ve got enough players in our building and enough talent that we’ve got a chance, like I think a number of teams in this league do. I think when you have a chance and things come up, you’d always love to help that chance go up and when you’ve got a player like Christian, who I believe is a very good player, I think it gives us a much better chance to add him to a group of good players. It helps you overcome maybe some bad things that could happen as you go along that stretch, but I never really look at it as one player away. I think we’re a team that has a chance to be real good, but we’re not there yet. I think not just our record showing that, but we’ve got to play a lot better ball and bringing Christian here is definitely not the only thing we’re missing. We’ve got play to our complete ability, which we’re not there yet in all three phases. I think when we made this trade it’s similarly, last time we were 6-0, I felt better about where we were at. We still had to get better, but I still think we have that type of team, that’s got the talent and stuff like that, but we’ve got to improve as we go and if we do that and on top of if you add a better player, yeah it makes things, it gives you a much better chance. But I don’t think this is something we would look into if we just thought it was just this year. I think Christian, with his contract and stuff, is going to be around here for a little bit and it’s not just a one-year rental.”

Your dad coached Christians’ dad, now you’re coaching Christian. What’s the emotional viewpoint for you of this trade?

“Not much. I love his parents. I know [RB Christian McCaffrey’s father] Ed and [Christian McCaffrey’s mother] Lisa very well, knew them well growing up. I didn’t know Christian very well. He was so much younger than me. I knew him and his brothers were a problem for my sister who used to babysit them a lot. But it’s been cool just to hear about him back at home and stuff, talking to people from that area, always hearing about the McCaffrey boys, it was just one after another winning state championships for the football team and me never really realizing how good they were going to be but then watching Christian at Stanford and being like, wow, what everyone said was true and then watching him in the NFL. I mean, the first thing I told Christian was this was our plan all along. I think that’s why we wanted to build a D-Line and build our defense right away and we knew we’d get him five and a half years later so that’s why we shouldn’t apologize for missing him then.”

How close were you to taking him back then?

“Not very close. I mean, it was definitely something, it wasn’t about him, it was just how we saw the time to build our team and we were pretty set with our vision of trying to do it defensively at that time.”

You gave up a lot to get him and you’re going to pay him a lot of money and you know, he’s probably a middle age running back who has had some recent injury. He’s in his sixth season, so do you view this as any sort of a gamble?

“Yeah, I view everything you do as a gamble. I view making trades as a gamble. I view not making trades as a gamble. All depends on if you can tell me what’s going to happen in the future. I mean, if we would’ve got a guy as good as Christian with that second-round pick, third-round pick and fourth-round pick and fifth-round pick the following year, I’d say, man, what were we doing? But we’re never going to know who we would’ve taken. For every really good pick, there’s also not a good one. And what I do like doing is knowing that you’re getting the right type of football player who’s extremely talented, who is wired the right way. I talk about guys like [DL Nick] Bosa who I feel like have been training for this moment since they were three years old, and everything they’ve done, what they’ve put in their body, how they approach their life, was to get to these moments, and I see Christian similar to that and everything you do in this business is a gamble, but if you’re going to gamble, I want to, first of all do it with talent and I want do it with character, and I mean football character. And I see that very strong with this guy.”

John mentioned that in the locker room there was a little extra jolt when Christian walked into the locker room. Did you feel a little extra excitement or juice today on the practice field?

“Yeah, I mean it was cool. I mean, just all the guys hitting me up last night when they saw it. So, I know our team was real pumped about it. I know our defense, just having to go against him, they knew he was good on tape and then that was what I heard about from them the most after they played him, that he was much harder to tackle in person too. And then just how pumped the offensive guys were hitting me up last night. So, I think our team is excited about it, but I mean, like I told our team today that this isn’t a this is all we need. We need the guys in our room to get as good as they can and to be hard on themselves every single day because we’ve got to win some games and if we do, I know we got a guy that’s coming here who can really help us.”

Your history with the McCaffrey family and I guess him being a known quantity, did that make him even more attractive to what you know he could do to the locker room and just on the field?

“Yeah, I think you know, it’s always a gamble and stuff but you’ve definitely got to be sure about the talent but then you never know about the person and it’s very hard to really know a person, so you’ve got to go with all that stuff, and just knowing his family, knowing a lot of people who’ve been around him a bunch, whether it’s growing up, whether it’s people who were with him at Stanford, people who I’ve coached with who were with him in Carolina, former players, there’s not one person I talk to who doesn’t say the same thing. And that’s also the way that it just looks from afar just watching on your own. So, I think all that stuff helps you a lot when you’re trying to make tough decisions.”

Do you feel you’re adding an element to the offense in terms of his skillset that wasn’t there already or do you just see him adding another good player to a group of good players?

“I think we’ve got good running backs. I think we’ve got good receivers and I think we’ve got good blockers and I think Christian’s pretty good at all three of those so, maybe he’s got the best combination of them all. I think [WR] Deebo [Samuel] does that pretty good too. But I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can do a few different things and it’s just when, the more guys you can get like that, the more you’re not as dependent on injuries, the more that you don’t have to force things to certain people and the more I feel like every single guy, whether it’s a receiver, a tight end, a running back, a quarterback, you don’t have to sit there and focus on targets, stats, there’s a lot of good guys out there. Just play football, do your best and we’ll see how it unfolds. Because I don’t think there’s one guy out there you got to force anything to. I think all of them have a chance to help us win.”

How much farther does Hufanga have to go to get through concussion protocol?

“He’s got to pass one other step tomorrow.”

And where do you stand with CB Jason Verrett?

“Verrett won’t be up this week. We’ve got to make a decision next week. He’s still the same, easing him in.”

The cliche is that the coach is the one saying get the guy, get the guy, I don’t care what it costs. And the GM, maybe because he runs the draft, is a little more cautious. Was that sort of the way this was?

“No. I’m always really excited to go do things like that, but then as soon as I see it’s a possibility, then you’re going to hear from me every single thing that’s wrong about it. That’s just my process on things, so I always try to hit both sides with it and you try to hash it out, because it is exciting, it’s real exciting, but just like Eric Branch let me know there’s gambles in everything. I know how this league works and I’m not at all that way as a coach. I am at times, but I always try to balance it out and make sure when you end up doing it, it’s not the thing that just excites you or excites fans. It’s the thing that you believe in now and you believe in later and I know I feel that way.”