Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – November 11, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Alright guys, injuries for this week. [RB] Tevin Coleman, not this week. Hopeful to get him back for the Rams. [LB Demetrius] Flannigan-Fowles, out this week. [WR] Deebo Samuel will not practice today. We’ll reevaluate Thursday. [CB] K’Waun Williams, high ankle sprain. He’ll be out for a while. [WR] Trent Taylor won’t practice today, back. [S Jaquiski] Tartt is going to have to go on IR, it ended up being turf toe. [WR Kendrick] Bourne won’t practice, remains on the COVID protocol list. [RB Raheem] Mostert won’t practice, won’t play this week. Hopeful to have him back also for the Rams. [CB Richard] Sherman we’ll get back in practice today for the first time. I think that’s all I’ve got. Go ahead.”

What’s the situation with LB Kiko Alonso? Is he going to be able to start practicing or is he just going to be on PUP until after the bye?

“Yeah, he’s not practicing anytime soon. Hopefully we can reevaluate here after the bye.”

I’m wondering if, we’re kind of at the halfway point of the season, can you evaluate the play of your two first round rookies, DT Javon Kinlaw and WR Brandon Aiyuk?

“I’m very happy with both of our rookies, our first round guys. I think both of them started out in positions playing a lot, and I think both of them are getting better as this year to go. So, it was disappointing not to have Aiyuk last week. I thought he was having his best games going into that game, and I thought he was going to have his best game. Just because of the way it was set up for him. I thought Kinlaw had his best game last week, also. He’s playing very hard and only getting better.”

With K’Waun Williams, is that a situation you’re going to have to end up putting him on injured reserve also?

“Yes. We just have to decide on, well, we don’t know yet because he can’t go in IR to return twice. So, he already had that once in the year, so we’re trying to evaluate, see how he goes. It’s a high ankle sprain, so that’s usually four to six weeks, which will lead him up towards the end of the year. So, we’re not going to put him on if he can come back because once we do put him on, he can’t. So, we’re just trying to weigh that out and see how it reacts here over the next week or so. And to see what our options are with the rest of our roster.”

How much did New Orleans Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders mean to you guys last year and how hard was it to lose him in the offseason?

“He meant a ton and I think it would have been real hard to get to where we got to if we didn’t make that move for him. He came in, did exactly what I was hoping for and more. Really hard to lose Emmanuel this offseason. One of the toughest decisions we had to make, but New Orleans came through and gave him what he deserved and we had to move a different direction and go there in the draft. Just watching him and what he did for us in that game last year these last couple of days is unbelievable and he’s doing an unbelievable job for them, also.”

What’s the expectation for Richard Sherman this week? Is it more likely he plays against the Rams? Are you guys still taking a wait and see approach?

“Oh yeah, I’m holding out hope for the Rams. I know Dr. Sherm thinks he’s got a chance this week and I’ve been around him enough that that’s why I don’t count him out on that. My goal is hopefully to get him back by the Rams, but I won’t rule him out for anything because of how his prognosis is.”

Last year, C Weston Richburg got hurt in that New Orleans game. What kind of impact has that had over the course of this year with, I think you’re down to your sixth center since then now, losing him on offense?

“A huge impact. Richburg was playing at an extremely high-level last year all the way up to that game. He got rolled up on, I think it was a third-and-one, bent backwards on it, messed his knee up pretty bad. I remember having mixed emotions after that game, because it was one of the coolest wins that I had been a part of, but I remember how big of a deal it was losing Richburg. Then the way that [OL] Ben Garland came in the rest of the year and stepped it up and really did an unbelievable job helping us, which gave him some experience, which helped us manage it a little bit, not getting Richburg back this year, but then it’d been tough losing Ben, too.”

What did you make of what the Saints did to the Buccaneers Sunday night?

“It always surprises you when anyone wins by that much in the NFL, because everyone’s pretty good. Everyone knows how good Tampa Bay’s offense and defense is also, and some of the players they’ve got too. When you’ve got some of the players that the Saints have and the schemes that they have, the coaching they have, with the quarterback they have, if they’re on and the team that they’re playing against is off, that’ll happen to anybody.”

Oh, did you guys put in a waiver claim for Cincinnati Bengals DE Takk McKinley, and if the answer is no, do you have the salary cap space given all the roster maneuvering, bringing guys up from practice squad, et cetera, for the next seven weeks to accommodate a veteran like McKinley?

“It’s not easy. I don’t know. I don’t think we put it in the claim for him. I know that we were behind a number of people. I’m assuming that he went to some people, but yeah, it’s always tough when you’re in the situation that we’re in, but you can make things work and move some things around, but I don’t think we’re going that direction.”

You’re going to a venue that you’re finally going to have fans in the stadium. Is there a little kind of anticipation for that?

“I think it will excite the guys a little bit. It’s been a little different playing in front of no fans this year, so I think it gives a little bit more energy. I love fans being there. Hopefully they won’t be as loud, 6,000 of them, as they were last year. I’d be surprised if they were. But, I think the guys would rather there be opposing fans than no fans as long as we can hear.”

When you look at the Saints offense and you see New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara and what he can do, how much of a dynamic offensive threat is that?

“I mean huge. How good he is at running the ball and the fact how good he is out of the backfield to man-to-man routes, just check downs or screens. Then when you pair him with the receivers he has and the quarterback he has, it’s the perfect combination of everything.”

Going back to the to the fans being at this game, a lot of your guys are from the South and maybe some family members and people that are familiar with some of your players will be there. Is that something that you have to address with the team that, even though some people, handful of people or whomever might be in the stands, you just can’t have contact with them?

“I think it would be no different and it’s been every week when we’ve gone somewhere. We haven’t been able to leave the hotel or people come in. It was a challenge our first road trip. You’re used to some people haven’t seen their mom and stuff for a while. You go to New York and guys couldn’t do it. So, I don’t think anything changes, the fact fans are in the stands. So, our protocols won’t change. I think it should be the same as usual for the guys.”

It seemed like New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook was having a lot of success against you guys early last year and when he went out, it seemed to help a lot in terms of coverage. Without K’Waun Williams, obviously you guys have a lot of faith in CB Jamar Taylor, but how do you prepare for size like that?

“Whether it’s size or speed or hands, it’s just about covering people. You’ve got to stay close to them and stuff and when you’re doing it man-to-man, the more you can get them early at the line, the easier it is to hang with them throughout. He’s just one of their many guys who are issues. So, they’ve got a talented team and as good of a quarterback who’s ever played and a great scheme. So, it’s always a challenge. They’re going to have their plays and stuff, but you’re going to get some opportunities. There’s always times that you can get some tips or sometimes that [New Orleans Saints] QB Drew [Brees] is going to let it rip. That’s why he makes so many good plays, but when he does make a mistake, we’ve got to make sure we get our hands on it. So, it’s not really about just shutting anyone down in particular. It’s about getting them off the field on third down and keeping them out of the end zone.”

I’m sure there’s an element of who knows with this, but as far as Sherman dealing with the calf tied to the Achilles, is there a feeling that this might be behind him or could this be an ongoing, chronic thing?

“I’m not sure. I think that’d be more for him. That’s what the questions were when he first came here and he’s put in three good years for us, or two and a half. And then he’s being able to come back this year, had a real bad setback earlier in the year. Just hearing him talk and stuff, I know he’s got some confidence. I know he’s feeling good. So, I’m excited to see him out there on the field today, at least get him some scout work and stuff, and ease his way back in. I think just talking to him, I’m not a doctor, but I’m a lot more optimistic now than I was a month ago.”

Just following up on Sherman. You said you’re excited with a defense and a team that’s been riddled with injuries. What is seeing Sherman out on the field, the practice field, if only that, do for the team and kind of lift morale, get everybody focused and ready to go?

“I think it does a lot. Anytime a guy comes back, our guys understand what we’ve been going through and guys are battling. The more players we can get back there, the more numbers we can get back there, guys get excited about. So, I know that’s why, I mean, Sherman’s a real long shot for this week, but the fact that he’s doing everything he can and he’s going to make us tell him he can’t go if we see that throughout the week. That’s why I love having him here. That’s why he leads by example, more than anything, and I think that excites the guys and makes them rally, too.”

What was it about WR River Cracraft that prompted you guys to elevate him ahead of maybe a couple other guys?

“I’m trying to think who was left. I didn’t know much about River until we had a number of injuries in training camp and we brought a bunch of guys in for a workout and River and [WR] Kevin [White] and a few other guys and just watching him in the workout, their talent and their speed, the way they ran their routes, excited us to get them into camp. At first, thinking of them as camp guys, but watching how they were in camp coming in late, the way they moved athletically and how much they picked up the offense being in a short amount of time excited us about both of those guys. That’s why we tried to keep them around here and they’ve been ready to come up each week to help on special teams. With the issues we went through last week, that’s why we felt very comfortable with River coming up and starting for us because he knew this stuff, he’d worked at it and he had shown that he’s tough enough. The game’s not too big for him.”

Can you explain what’s going on with Kendrick Bourne? I thought he’d had a false positive. Was it a false negative?

“I’m not allowed to talk about it, but it’s what you’ve heard. I mean, positive, negative, negative, positive, negative. I think everyone, those things happen, I guess, and we’re all just dealing with it. I know it’s a weird situation with him. It kind of is weird though, with everybody in the world, not just our football players. So, we’re just trying to do the best with the protocols and hope that he gets cleared up to where it’s always negative and hopefully we can get him out of here later in the week.”