Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – November 17, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
“The injuries. Mo [DL Maurice] Hurst, calf won’t practice. [RB JaMycal] Hasty, ankle, won’t practice, [CB] Josh Norman, ribs, limited. [WR] Deebo [Samuel], shin, limited. [OL] Jaylon Moore, knee, limited. [T] Trent Williams, he’ll get a vet day and [RB] Elijah Mitchell won’t practice, finger.”
Any update on Elijah, just how serious that is and when you would be able to get him back?
“He just had it yesterday. Today, he’s not good enough to practice. I think he’ll go Sunday, but we’ve got to see it day-to-day.”
Any word on LB Dre Greenlaw’s practice window?
“Yeah. He’s going to get out there today. We’ll open it up and see how the week goes. Same with [S Jaquiski] Tartt.”
Did you find out when Mitchell broke it?
“I didn’t. I didn’t get to ask him, but I’ll ask him when I’m out there, so you can ask me Friday.”
It works for story value.
“No, totally. I get it. And I probably would have if we had two days. This has been a little hectic these last 24 hours.”
Did you say Tartt will be out there too?
What’s your message to the team this week to make sure they carry over the urgency they had last week and don’t overlook the Jaguars?
“I said, Jacksonville, it’s pretty easy when you start watching the tape not to overlook them. You talk as a coach, you read the numbers, but when you watch the tape they’ll see, as they’ve seen today, this morning that they’re a good team and they’re getting a lot better. I don’t think that people let down after something like that, but you’ve got to realize the emotions that go into a Monday night game is a little bit bigger where we were coming from with how bad we had played before that, so the emotions were high. And so you’ve got to watch for that stuff. Your emotions can’t be high every single day, but that means we’ve got to practice accordingly every single day and make sure that we’re ready to go on Sunday.”
OL Daniel Brunskill I think faced Rams DL Aaron Donald one-on-one, close to 20 snaps but not quite. I realize you weren’t like running over right guard necessarily, but he seemed to hold his own if not better on a lot of those snaps. What did you think of his performance?
“I thought he played great. No one’s going to play perfect, especially versus Aaron who is probably the best defensive player I’ve ever seen, without a doubt. He’s a tough deal and anyone who gets him one-on-one struggles. It was good to get him to play in the run a lot, which helps. We always try to avoid being in the one-on-one, but they make it tough with their fronts. And when Brunskill had to do it, he rose to the occasion, did a hell of a job and the fourth-and-six touchdown I thought was the biggest one.”
Is it fair to say Brunskill matches up well with Aaron Donald? It seems he’s had success against him in the past or is that a stretch for anyone?
“Yeah, no one matches up well versus Aaron Donald. That’s why we like Brunskill. You guys will see some clips throughout the game where he might get beat and it doesn’t look good, but for the course of a game, Brunskill is a very dependable player. The game’s never too big for him. It doesn’t matter who he’s going against. The first time we ever threw him in at tackle and he had to play the whole game in 2019 versus Arizona and did a good job on [Arizona Cardinals DL] Chandler [Jones] and at guard versus Aaron. But Brunskill, he’s going to give all he’s got no matter who he’s playing.”
On pass protections with QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s ability to get the ball out fast, is that his best asset that he brings to the quarterback position? That he can get rid of that under 2.5 seconds?
“Yeah, it’s important that the guys get open that fast too. Jimmy’s best asset is just looking at how he throws. Not many people have the quick twitch and can decide to throw the ball, get it out of his hand physically as fast as him. I don’t know anyone who could do it faster.”
How closely did you evaluate Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence or was his selection number at number one such a foregone conclusion that you’d moved on to other guys?
“Yeah, I watched it, but not nearly like the other guys, so we pretty much knew. I would have bet a lot of money on when he was going, so we didn’t spend much time on it.”
What have you seen from him this season?
“We’ve always seen his talent and you see it on the tape. He’s getting to play a lot. Has been thrown into a lot of situations and you can see that him, along with their whole team, is starting to get better and better.”
What about Jacksonville Jaguars OLB Josh Allen in 2019? Was it just that he was more of an outside linebacker and that didn’t really kind of fit your scheme?
“No, he fit because when we were up there trying to look for pass rushers and we felt pretty strong about the two top ones in the draft with him and the guy we ended up getting [DL] Nick [Bosa], so we were real high on Josh, but we were a little higher on Nick.”
You guys have struggled so much on third downs prior to this week. Were you able to sort of discern why this week you sort of took a step forward in that aspect and were so successful?
“Yeah, you’ve got to go to each play. There’s not one answer, but we definitely played our best game on third down versus a team that was pretty good at it too. And guys made some plays. We had a couple of good looks and when we didn’t have good looks we were still able to convert it. I think it was like a third-and-seven, the one Deebo got, they were taking that away and Jimmy threw it in the tightest window. Deebo stepped to it and we got a big gain, so there were a number of plays like that in the game that guys just performed at a high level. And when we did have the right looks, like on the fourth down, guys did even better, made a touchdown.”
How much did having RB Jeff Wilson Jr. on Monday night impact your willingness to go after that 40 rush total?
“It made it a lot easier. It still would have been the same goal, but Jeff, he ran the ball hard. He helped out a lot when he didn’t have the ball, which was huge, keeping us out on the field. He converted a third-and-two that kept us out there for a while, but if he wasn’t there, we were going to try the same stuff with other guys too.”
What’s been happening in that position group that enabled you guys to part ways with former CB Dre Kirkpatrick yesterday?
“We’ve just been one over at corner for a while and there’s only so long you can take it. We usually only have six on our roster, five up on game day. And so we’ve just been going extra with the two rookies that we have on and we knew we wouldn’t have the luxury of keeping those guys all year, bring in two guys back from IR. With some more guys coming back, we knew we had to make that decision sooner or later.”
So right now, you have three openings on the active roster? Will you just do those on Saturday?
“I think so. I think we had two. Yeah, I think we do it on Saturday. Yeah, we always do them on the Saturday before 1 p.m. I know you’re trying to get me on the numbers exactly right now and I’ve got way too many defenses in my head.”
The guys you do that to, will they be active on Sunday?
“Hopefully, if they have a good week of practice.”
You said two of those guys–?
“Are you talking about Tartt and Greenlaw?”
“Their practice windows are starting this week and hopefully they’re good enough to go on Sunday.”
You guys haven’t used the practice window, the whole practice window. You guys pretty much have that philosophy that when they’re ready to practice, they’re ready to play?
“No, I think it depends on each guy. Some guys had longer injuries that we’re trying to, I mean Greenlaw we’ve been trying to get back each week for a little bit. But his injury is a lot longer. Where we’ve had some guys who were exactly at two and a half, three weeks and you’re right there so you know when they come back, they’re fully healthy. Other guys, they got to get back and they got to prove it. Even with [TE George] Kittle. He had to prove it throughout practice and that’s why we kind of eased him. The last thing you want to do, and we want Greenlaw back very badly, but we don’t want him to go too fast and only get him for one game.”
With how well LB Azeez Al-Shaair has played, is it going to be tough for Greenlaw to unseat him at that WILL position?
“We’ll see. Greenlaw’s played at an extremely high level too. I think Greenlaw has done a hell of a job in his career here for us. He’s just getting back into practice for the first time in a while, so I do think it would be hard to unseat Azeez right away. Just because of what Azeez has done, he’s played at a high level and I think that’ll take Greenlaw a while to have the chance to pass him up again.”
Have you ever seen a number one wide receiver who can also play running back as well as Deebo Samuel?
“I haven’t had one. I think there’s, no, I haven’t. I thought [former NFL WR] Percy Harvin had a chance like that and I’ve seen [Atlanta Falcons WR] Cordarrelle Patterson, [Jacksonville Jaguars WR] Tavon Austin a little bit over the years, but Deebo has been pretty special at it.”
There’s a lot of examples of running backs who can play a little receiver. What does it do for an offense to have a receiver who can play running back?
“Just the threat and different matchups. Everything is personnel driven and who the matchups are. And it’s the same thing with how big of a deal it is having a fullback who can also go out there and play outside of the box. Like we have with Juice [FB Kyle Juszczyk]. And then when you have receivers who can go back to running back and also receivers who don’t mind doing some stuff that a fullback would do, especially if you’re playing a receiver and you use them as a fullback, you might be going against a nickel as opposed to a linebacker. So there’s all those different matchups you can do. And when you have willing guys who have the ability to do it, but they’re also physical enough to do it, it just helps you come up with a lot of things to put players in positions to make it easier for them.”
It seems from the outside, that having to do all that stuff would add a lot to his mental load too. How have you seen him grow and handle that as you’ve kind of added more and more to his plate?
“Deebo is one of the most natural players I’ve been around. He’s very smart. He’s very perceptive. I think he’s extremely socially aware. He kind of has an idea of how everyone is and things aren’t that hard to him. I think what Deebo has gotten better at is sometimes when you have a tendency for things not to be hard, you don’t always go through every single little thing. And I think he’s done a much better job of going through the little things, so he can be closer to perfect than not.”
Was there a point where you saw that shift in him?
“Yeah, I think it helped a ton for him when [Buffalo Bills WR] Emmanuel [Sanders] came here. That’s when I saw the biggest. Deebo is one of the guys who we were counting on a lot as a rookie. And I think when Emmanuel got here, he really saw a true pro and not just how he prepared, but how he attacked practice every day. And Emmanuel only knew one way, like he went as hard as he could all the time and if he couldn’t, you had to protect him from himself. And I think it was really cool for Deebo to get to see. I think that’s why they clicked so much. And then coming back into a second year, I know how hard he was preparing to not have a sophomore slump. And then he had those injuries, which kind of made it inevitable. And to watch the frustration he had all year, you could tell he was very hungry coming into this year.”
What do you and running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. need to see from RB Trey Sermon for him to start getting into the game more, into the offense more than he has?
“Yeah, you guys have asked that a lot and right now, it’s nothing against Trey. Trey had an opportunity when guys got hurt and I thought he got better in each game with that. But he didn’t do enough for us to put them ahead of Elijah or Jeff. And so it’s pretty much as simple as that, like if Jeff wasn’t out there or Elijah wasn’t, he would have taken one of those two’s roles. When it came to our third downs, we always started out with [RB] Raheem [Mostert] then it went to Hasty. And now we’ve gone with Juice. Not always wanting to put a rookie in a third down role, so he had an opportunity when there was injuries, but those guys have come back and we still have those guys ahead of him.”
What is it what you look for in a third-down back? What are the qualities that you want in a third-down back?
“You have to be able to have the capability to block. It starts with that. If not you’re just another receiver out there, who can’t block. So you have to be able to do that, and after that you want someone who can beat man coverage.”
DB Jimmie Ward mentioned this morning at an interview that the defensive captains called a meeting the night before at the hotel. How important is it for captains to step up, especially now with the situations that are happening during the season and did you talk to the captains at all? Did you know about that meeting?
“No, I didn’t know. I only knew because it took about a minute longer than usual. We always have an offensive meeting and a defensive meeting that lasts like eight minutes long. And then we review a couple of things and I sit in there and they all come in together and I do a 10-minute team meeting. So, it just took them a minute longer than usual. And I haven’t even asked anybody about it. It’s probably because I’m 24 hours behind on a few things. But I think it’s great. I’ve seen those at their bad, I’ve seen them when they’re good. I really don’t know what was said or care much because I like the result. I think it’s always great when players hold each other accountable and it’s not the way that people wanted to see when they see someone grabbing someone by their face mask or yelling at someone on the sidelines. That’s usually just for other people. You want people who genuinely want to win and do it the right way. And when you have players who are around each other all the time, it goes a lot more than the coaches if those guys can get other people to pick each other up.”
I’ve got another Daniel Brunskill question. I don’t mean to imply he like physically dominated Aaron Donald, but there was one play, an eight-yard run on the first drive that Deebo had in the red zone where he did basically dominate Donald, he threw him down. Did you note that or have others noted that and said, ‘you’re awesome Brunskill?’
“I wouldn’t use the word dominate. I’m not trying to poke the bear too much. But yeah, I thought he did as good as he could, which is as good as I’ve seen anybody do. Aaron, he’s a different dude, so it was a huge challenge and those guys did as good as they could with him.”
With Tartt coming back, does he automatically become the starter? And what’s your kind of feeling about the position that S Talanoa Hufanga has put himself in to make a contribution when you’re at full strength back there?
“I like Huff a lot. I think he’s played well. No, Tartt doesn’t automatically get the starting position. We’re not sitting here trying to replace Tartt either. I think Tartt’s played at a high level for us for a number of years, can do a bunch of things. But even before he got hurt, we were trying to get Huff in there too. Because of what Huff has brought to the table. But we’ll see how the week goes this week. I’ve got to see where Tartt is at, but I expect them both to play if Tartt’s healthy.”
What does Hufanga bring to the table?
“I just like how he doesn’t hesitate on anything. He looks like, I was just saying today in the team meeting, that when he makes a play like he did on that third-and-four when they tried to run that pick route and he met him, it looks like he’s not just thinking about that on game day. It looks like he decided on Wednesday how he’s going to play. You can see it in everything he does and there’s just no hesitation in his game. And that’s what I want to see, 11 guys out there not hesitating and flying around.”