Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – November 17, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Alright guys, injuries from the game. We had [S Johnathan] Cyprien who had a hamstring, he’ll be out a few weeks. [RB JaMycal] Hasty, broken collarbone. He’ll have to have surgery, be done for the year. [S Jared] Mayden had a quad strain, likely done for the year. Guys who didn’t play because injury, [RB] Tevin Coleman, hopeful to have him back next week versus the Ram’s. [LB Demetrius] Flannigan-Fowles, hopeful to have him back also. [WR] Deebo’s [Samuel] in that same boat, hopeful for the Rams. [CB] K’Waun Williams will still be out more weeks than that. Other guys coming back from IR that aren’t on the 53 man. We’ve got [RB] Raheem [Mostert], hopeful to get him back for the Rams. [LB Mark] Nzeocha, outside chance for the Rams, hopefully the week after. I’m hoping to get [CB Richard] Sherman back this week. [RB] Jeff Wilson, I’m not expecting for the Rams. Has a chance, but hopefully the week after and you guys know we’ve got [DL] Arik [Armstead] on the COVID reserve list and that’s all I got. Go ahead.”

What do you guys do during this week and are the players allowed to go home wherever home might be? Like, what kind of instructions do you leave them with?

“It’s totally different this year, just because you’ve got to get tested every day. So, this is the first year where getting on a plane or going somewhere is really not an option. Everyone’s got to be up at the facility sometime before 11:00 A.M. so we can get our testing in and have it back for the next day. With Arik getting on the COVID list and the stuff that happens with that, being in intensive protocol and everything, we aren’t going to have anybody up in the building this week. I was going to go Tuesday and Wednesday, but because of this, we’re going to put that off. Met with the guys today, just to give them the schedule. We will have guys up there on Friday and Saturday, where we can do a little bit of a walkthrough type thing, just to get us back into it and also have the guys work out with our strength and conditioning staff. So, all really that we have set for this week is Friday and Saturday. We’ll get the players up there a little bit. Guys got to test every single day before 11. And we’ll allow everyone back in the building on Monday, but when we go on Friday and Saturday, it’ll just be out on the field. We’re not going to be entering the building because of the COVID situations.”

With Armstead going on the COVID list and having played in the game, were there any high-risk contacts identified? What kind of chaos did that kind of throw in on that he was on the plane back and just anything like that with his case?

“Oh yeah. He did have some close contacts. When you guys see when we get them all, there’ll be on the list. So, you’ll see that. With this being our bye week, we weren’t in there anyways, so really all it changed was today. Had just told the guys not to come in, where we were going to get together today and watch all of what happened on Sunday and kind of put that game to rest. Now we’re just doing that all Zoom-wise and each coach, each position’s going to finish it up before we see them in person on Friday because we’ll just meet them on the field on Friday. So yeah, he’s going to have some close contacts, but we’re still waiting to see who those are.”

You mentioned the other day after the game that some guys have kind of been put in positions where maybe there’s more on their plate than you expected, just because of the injuries and things like that. Is DT Javon Kinlaw one of those guys? How has he developed as the season’s gone on and with maybe more of a role than you might’ve expected at the beginning?

“Yeah, I think that is. Almost everybody has and so he definitely would be that too. I think he’s done a really good job. Him and [WR Brandon] Aiyuk are in a similar boat. I’ve told them both, just talking to them Sunday night, we know about their talent and everything, but I’ve been really impressed with those two in the last few weeks just how they carry themselves. Just how they’ve been in practice at this time of the year, how they’re taking care of their bodies and stuff after practice. I think both of them been acting like pros and it’s starting to carry over to the field. We’ve got six more games with them and it’s important to me that they keep acting that way and stuff. You guys will keep seeing them get better on the field, which will lead a lot more to next year and help us finish this year off the right way.”

QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been off of his ankle for a couple of weeks now. Has he made progress in that regard and are you still looking to have him come back into the lineup at some point next month if that ankle is entirely healed?

“Yeah. I’m really holding out hope that Jimmy can get back and play some games with us. I’m hoping that we can change a little bit of our outcomes. So, when he does come back, and hopefully a few other people are coming back for a reason, but Jimmy did have a real bad ankle injury. It’s very good that he didn’t have to have surgery because that’s what gives him a chance. I think he just got out of his boot and we’re still a little bit of ways from getting there, but that’s what I’m holding out hope for.”

Regarding Jimmy, I realize you’re still in the middle of the season and you could still be playing more this year. Perhaps you’ve heard there’s some speculation about what his future is with the franchise beyond 2020. I assume you can’t say he’s going to be the starter in 2021, but kind of how do you view his future beyond this season?

“I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year. I expect him to come and play with us this year. We have six games left. We are not out of the playoffs yet. I’ve been on a team that was three and six going into a bye week and ended up winning their division. I think we have guys on this team capable of finishing this the right way. We’ve got to do one game at a time and I hope Jimmy can come back and be a part of that, but to think that we’ve made any decisions on somebody going into the future, this isn’t the case. Jimmy has won a lot of games for us this year. It’s a lot harder to win games when he’s not here and I’m just hoping we can get him back.”

Along the lines of the nickel blitz and the slot blitzes that New Orleans brought on Sunday, upon review of the film, how much of those are on QB Nick Mullens to be able to identify those and how much of the success of those and the Saints was on your backs not pass protecting well enough?

“We all had our part in them. They brought 10 of them. I usually see those more as run blitzes and they guessed right on a number of them. A number we guessed right on, it went the other way on. I think where we didn’t do a good enough job on was really making them pay. When someone blitzes that much with one guy, it is risky for running into that type of stuff and in some of your protections, especially when you’re stacking the back, but it’s also risky for them too. It leaves them vulnerable and in the pass game, I think our biggest thing off of it was the 12-yard pass to [TE] Jordan Reed. We had another opportunity where our back could have done better, where he didn’t, that I think cost us a big pass play. We didn’t make them pay for it and so we kept having to deal with it. It’s something we’ve got to do a lot better to stop that bleeding.”

With Santa Clara changing the protocol, they’re, I guess, down in purple again, does that change how you are able to approach your practice, the protocols that you have to go through?

“Not that I’m aware of yet. I’m sure, I mean, I know I’ll find that out. Without us being in the building right now, we’ve spent a lot of time with them and them with us working together and them checking out our facility and how we do have everyone spaced out. I think they feel real confident along with ourselves with how we do that. So, I don’t see anything changing. It’s kind of the, I don’t remember exactly when, but I think that’s how we were in training camp. I think that’s where Santa Clara has been and in order for us to get that open and started, we had to pass a number of things. I know they’ve been working with us with that and I think they’ve been impressed with how our building has been.”

You put a waiver claim in on former Cincinnati Bengals DL Takk McKinley who failed his physical with the Bengals. There’s a report, or I guess reports, that you’ve had some level of interest in former New York Giants CB Deandre Baker. Can you comment on any of those two guys and if they might – with you guys?

“Yeah. I’ve had no discussions with anyone on the Deandre. I was told today that Takk failed his physical and I know we put in a claim last time. So, I don’t think that’s until tomorrow at one, but I know we plan on putting another claimer in.”

With the guys not being able to really fly anywhere and of course still having to get tested, did that change your bye week message at all, just in terms of staying focused and being careful?

“No, it didn’t change much of it. I didn’t have to give a much of a talk and speech about what happens when guys go fly to Miami or Vegas or something for the whole week. I have a lot of stories on what that has done to certain people over the year and their careers. Not as big of deal with this because you can’t go anywhere. We’re going to be up every day. I just try to stress to the guys, we had planned for the building to be open as much as possible for them because this week, to me, we need this week very badly. Just to rest our bodies and stuff, but the main thing is you need this week to get better. I think us resting will get us better, but you’ve got to rest the right way. You don’t just sit around and hang out for seven days and do nothing. That gets you out of football shape. Your body might feel a little bit better, but once you have one practice you feel twice as bad, because you’ve lost a lot of stuff that you’ve been working to get. So, it’s trying to find that even level. With the COVID stuff, it’s a little different, because we don’t have a lot of stuff open up to the building. So, you’ve just got to put a lot of pressure on the guys, we’re sending them run programs, stuff like that. They’ve got to get one on their own in tomorrow, Wednesday, a real good one. We’ll get them up, get something done with us Friday and Saturday, which should help. But, my biggest key with those guys is you need this rest so much, but if you just sit there and try to relax like nothing’s going to happen for these next two months, you won’t be able to get it back going again. I’ve got high expectations for our team. I know our team does also and I know we’re going to get some guys back who help us, but we can’t count on those guys coming back like they’re just going to be the answer. Those guys can help, but we need everyone who’s been playing to get a lot better, coaches included, and I believe that we can.”

What is the status for OL Ben Garland? What is his timeline looking like?

“I don’t know exactly. I know he’s not in the discussions right now. That’s why I’m not bringing him up. All those guys, whether it’s Jimmy, whether it’s [TE George] Kittle, Ben Garland, I’d probably put just a little bit ahead of them, if I had to say, but all those guys have a chance to come back and help us. We’ve just got to take care of business here in these next few weeks to give them a reason.”

You guys have so many potential free agents next year and T Trent Williams is one of them. He seems to have been playing pretty well all season, kind of as you expected. Is he going to price himself out of your guys’ possibilities and how do you see that unfolding with Trent?

“That’s stuff that we’ll have to deal with next year. Yeah, I hope not. Trent knows how I feel about him and how our whole team feels about him. I think Trent feels the same, so hopefully it makes sense for him to stay here and I know it makes sense for us. That’s the tough part about this league. We’ve got a lot of good players and we’ve worked real hard to build our roster up and that’s why we’ve had to make tough decisions last year and we’re going to have to do it again this year, but everything’s tied together. I know Trent is very important to me and very important to our team and someone I want around here for a while.”

You said that in your mind, there’s not a whole lot that separates Nick and QB C.J. Beathard. What are your thoughts, just kind of where you guys go with that position as the season goes on? I know you said that you felt like Nick was firmly kind of entrenched as the starter last week, but do you kind of leave open the possibility that it’s a game plan to game plan, opponent to opponent decision that you make of who starts at quarterback?

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to answer that the wrong way so I get a question every day, like, who is it today? Nick is our guy, but I also try to make it not as big of a deal as it could come off. Both of them are our backup quarterback to Jimmy and both of them we’re capable of winning with. I think our players know that, too, to where if there was ever something that I thought gave us an advantage over one or the other, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. It wouldn’t be the biggest deal to me, like even in the New Orleans game, I thought that Nick played very well. There’s a time I was like, “Man, maybe we should just put in C.J. just to try to spark something,” to where I wouldn’t consider that normally with Jimmy. Jimmy’s been our true number one guy, and that’s how the team treats him and everything. It’s just not as emotional like that as it would be in a normal situation. So, I mean, yes, Nick’s our guy. I don’t plan on just changing every series or every week, but I also know it’s not the biggest deal in the world. We can put in either guy, our team will respond the same way. Both of those guys are always prepared to go in like they’re the starter, whether they’re the two or the three. So, I just don’t think it’s as pivotal of a discussion as it normally is with, “Hey, did he lose his job? Did he keep his job?” They’re both our backup quarterbacks and they’re going to be for most of the rest of this year. Hopefully Jimmy will be able to come back, but until then, they’re both just trying to hold down the fort.”

Obviously, there was a lot of self-inflicted wounds in the Saints game. How do you approach that as a coach? You can’t beat it over their heads, obviously, but how do you coach those mistakes?

“I put it on all of us, not just the players. On the coaches, too. I knew we had an uphill battle going into that game, but I strongly believe that the way that game went, that if we would have been better with those self-inflicted wounds, I believe that we would have won that game. So, you’ve got to look at each one individually, which comes to, we muffed two punts, which neither of those guys can do. We’ve got to catch those. We had two picks that one was especially, I thought, was avoidable. I think we were on the 32-yard line in field goal range. We’ve got to see that guy and can’t throw that pick. The one at the end of the game, gave them more of a chance in the end zone. Yeah, which was a little bit better. That was part of just trying to come back, but if you just take out that game, all the games that we’ve lost and compared to the games that we’ve won and it’s just a night and day difference in turnovers, which is also a night and day difference in how much points we’ve scored or how much points we’ve given up. So, you make the guys completely aware of it. The guys know when we’re missing some guys, but I try to echo after that game, that even if we had guys, if you turn the ball over like that, it’s not going to matter. If we don’t fix that, then you don’t give yourself a chance to win. I believe we can fix our turnover issue, which we’ve had in our losses, regardless of who’s healthy for us. I think we’ll have a chance to be in every game we play.”

How big of a boost would it be for your offense to get Deebo and Raheem back and how big of a boost would it be for your defense to get Richard Sherman back?

“Just those two guys, it’s a huge boost. Getting guys who you depend on, who’ve done a lot for us, I think you guys can see how Deebo’s been in just the games he’s played this year. How Sherm’s been, just even when he came out to practice the boost he gives. I also want to say, which I echoed to the guys today too, that we’re not going to win just because these guys are coming back. These guys haven’t played football in a while and usually when they do come back, it takes them a week or so to get into it and to really affect a game. We’re going to win based off of whether the guys that we have get better or worse. I think we’ve got some guys giving everything, but I still think guys can take it to another level. I think there’s a number of guys out there, even like Brandon Aiyuk. He’s been playing great. He can take it to another level. So can [CB] Jason Verrett, so can [DB] Jimmie Ward, so can Kinlaw, so can Trent Williams. Getting Deebo back, getting Raheem back, Sherm, that stuff is going to help big. That’s some juice we need, but we also don’t have much room for error with where our record is right now. So, I can’t count on those guys just to come in and change everything. I just want those guys to get healthy and be a part of it, but we need to really make sure that this week makes us better, not just rested, but makes us better. Sometimes that’s tough to do when you’re not practicing or doing anything. That’s why I’m hoping the guys are handling it the right way and I’ll make sure when I see them Friday and Saturday we do our part and we come in next week, rested, pumped up to go and ready to finish out 2020 the right way.”