Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – October 9, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“All right guys, injuries from the game: [OL] Aaron Banks ended up being his shoulder, mild strain, he’ll be day-to-day. And guys who missed the game, just [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] with his knee, he continues to be day-to-day. We’ll see over the next two days if he’ll be ready for Wednesday. Go ahead guys.”
Is that a big sigh of relief to hear about Aaron Banks?
“Yes. Anytime it’s the bicep, we were obviously nervous about it, and still an injury, but not as bad as it could have been.”
DL Drake Jackson was out of the game for just a little bit. Was that anything that is reportable?
“No, he got the wind knocked out of him.”
The last three games there have been penalties on plays in which RB Christian McCaffrey has had his face mask yanked, helmet-to-helmet hits. Is that anything that concerns you? Do you see anything out of the ordinary? Is that something that the team believe that maybe teams are starting to target him?
“No, I don’t think they’re trying to do it. I don’t think teams are trying to hit him in the helmet or trying to facemask him. I think people are desperate on how to bring him down. You look at the tackle versus Arizona, if that guy didn’t do all that stuff, Christian was walking in for a touchdown or carrying him in for a touchdown. When you run that hard, guys do whatever they can to get a guy down and sometimes they grab onto the facemask. The helmet to helmets, those are tight windows. Christian runs really good routes and our quarterback’s putting it in tight areas and those guys are committed to trying to stop it. And when that happens, it’s really hard to do without doing that. So when you’ve got such a really great player like Christian who’s fearless, guys are doing everything they can to try to stop him and sometimes when they do that, they get penalties for it.”
After a thorough beating of what was thought to be a pretty good team like that, like half joking comments about the 1972 Dolphins and it’s time to just put the Niners in the Super Bowl, do you have a locker room at this point where you don’t have to worry maybe too much about the whole week-to-week, ‘Oh let’s keep our heads together, let’s stay humble’ and all that stuff? Where do you fall as far as not buying into all the hype?
“I’m definitely aware of the question and how that could happen. But it’s honestly been real easy with our guys. We’ve got a real good team in that way. Just going into that game versus Dallas, how hyped that game was and just the way they carried themselves in our building throughout the week, they weren’t making much out of it. It was kind of like any other game and just any other week. I think we’ve got a good group of veterans who have been through a lot of stuff, even still guys who were here from our ‘19 year when we started 8-0. I think the guys who have been here and who have gone through stuff, they passed it to the other guys. It’s always our message that nothing can be taken for granted and it’s just one week at a time. I think everyone preaches that, but I think through our life experiences together and stuff, our guys truly know it. And the guys who haven’t been a part of that, they constantly hear it from the guys who have.”
There was a sequence I think in five plays in the third quarter where QB Brock Purdy hit WR Brandon Aiyuk a couple times, one of which got called back and then the one to WR Deebo Samuel there. I know you say you kind of just have grown to expect certain things from Brock, but when you see things like that, are there still things that he’s doing that kind of surprises you or amazes you in some ways?
“I mean, just the consistency. He does it all the time, but just to continue doing it at such a high rate has been pretty unbelievable. Just how good he’s been, how many plays he’s made and how many plays he hasn’t made for the other team. So yeah, the consistency of that has been what’s been impressive the most.”
Aside from the facemask and the other hit, Christian took a lot of hard hits in that game, at least it seemed like. Did he come out of it nothing worse than wear and tear from your knowledge?
“Yeah, as far as my knowledge. Talking to him after the game, he was all right and then I got no reports from the training staff today. But yeah, they were bringing it. They were ready for that game and they hit hard. They didn’t shy away from anything and it was very similar to how they were when we played him in the playoffs last year. Christian doesn’t shy away from anything either. I thought Christian ran so hard in that game and he tried to bring it on them every chance that he got and had some really good tough runs. There’s one in particular, I thought we were going to lose about three yards on it, he got five. There was a third-and-two that I thought was blocked for one and he ended up getting two and a half. So he did some really hard running. But those guys, definitely their safeties and their edge players, they bring it and that’s something we knew going into the game.”
Your quarterback only had two quarterback pressures in 29 pass rushes. What can you say about your offensive line’s performance after looking at the tape?
“I thought they did a real good job. That team’s a huge challenge, as hard as it gets in terms of pass protecting. I thought we did a lot better than we did last year. There were still some that they got in there, but we were able to get rid of the ball and they ended up having, I believe, just that one sack. There were a few plays that were risky plays for us to try a little farther down the field that sometimes gives those guys a chance to make plays on how good their pass rush was. And on those plays in particular, our guys really manned up and gave Brock the time and was able to lead to a couple touchdowns.”
Yesterday, DB Deommodore Lenoir said that he was thankful that defensive coordinator Steve Wilks trusted his DBs to play a lot of man coverage. How are you looking at the evolution of your defense as far as what Steve is calling on the backend and is that something where you’re encouraging him to be focused on peaking at the right time later in the season, as far as the coverage combinations and all that he is calling?
“Yeah, Steve’s such a good coordinator and he has been doing this for so long that Steve knows what he’s doing. It is more getting used to our guys and how to do what he loves doing with our group. And that’s always a challenge for our coordinators. Each year is different. It is for me, it is for him because what you want to do depends on how your players are. Steve being the new guy here, each game, I think he picks up on that more and more. I’ve loved how he’s been. I think each game he gets stronger and better at it and not just better at it, but just how to use our scheme with our guys. He’s mixed up a ton of stuff and thought we did a little bit more man yesterday. The way the secondary was ready, that starts with him and [defensive backs coach Daniel] Bullocks because that’s the area that they focus on the most. Those guys were so aggressive in their coverages, which allows us to have a better pass rush and even to have that tight man coverage at the end where Demo had that slant and it ended up causing that pick with the tip. I was real impressed with their preparation and then how it looked on film.”
You guys are scoring a touchdown on four of your five opening drives this year. Is there an overemphasis on getting off to fast starts? When you see those opening scores how has that impacted your guys’ mindset and confidence just for the rest of the game as far as the players go?
“It’s not really something we talk about because we talk the same on every drive. We want the urgency from first play to last play. So there’s nothing that we really overdo in that way because we feel that’s the standard for everything. I think our guys have just played well. They’ve done a good job and when things haven’t worked that clean, we’ve been able to make some key third downs that keep us on the field. That’s usually the key to leading to points.”
You said the other day LB/DL Randy Gregory would be arriving today. Is that still the case and is the plan to kind of throw him right in full throttle to start?
“Yeah, we’ll throw him in Wednesday. I haven’t checked this morning on when he is flying in and stuff. I was told he is flying in today. I ended up giving the players off. So we’re not seeing them right now, but I’m sure when he gets in later today or tomorrow he’ll start meeting with [defensive line coach Kris] Kocurek.”
Given all the big names on the defense, what can you speak to Deommodore Lenoir’s rise and how he’s able to really anchor opposite of CB Charvarius Ward?
“I think Demo’s been huge for us, man. I thought it started that way last year. The way he finished last season, the second half I thought he was playing at extremely high level. He took that into the offseason, he’s continued it this year. I think his play’s been very good and I think last night might’ve been his best game of the year so far.”
Do you think the way last season ended in Philadelphia has provided fuel for you all in a way other postseason defeats haven’t? Maybe it’s a product of it being most recent among postseason defeats, but has that provided any fuel?
“Yeah, I think every one of those do for sure. I mean, players don’t always get the chance over their careers to be in those type of situations. We’ve been in three pretty big situations in the last four years here. So a lot of our team has been in one of those three situations and some have been in all of them from the Super Bowl or both of those Championship losses. You get that as a coach because you usually are in the league longer, as you get older and stuff. But, you always realize with it, your time in this league on how nothing could be taken for granted. The only time you do learn that stuff is when seasons end and when they end the hard way, like in a Super Bowl or like in two Championships. And when that happens, you know how hard it is to get there and you know that’s really all that matters. That’s why when you go through that stuff, you preach it and you actually truly mean it. When your players can go through that and they feel it along with the coaching staff, yeah that takes a toll and that makes offseasons different. That makes how you attack everything different. I feel it from our players a ton. They’ve been through a lot. We’ve added some new guys this year who I think have jumped right in, but I think our guys have been on a mission for a while.”