Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – November 25, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Alright guys, for practice today. With the COVID list, guys who can’t go, we’ve got [WR Brandon] Aiyuk, [TE Daniel] Helm, [DL] D.J. Jones, [DT Javon] Kinlaw, [LB Joe] Walker, [T] Trent Williams and [DL Jordan] Willis and [DL Arik] Armstead. Limited today will be [RB] Tevin Coleman and [WR] Deebo Samuel. Then [RB] Raheem [Mostert], [CB Richard] Sherman and [RB] Jeff Wilson [Jr.] will return a little bit for practice. We’ll see how the week goes with them. Go ahead, guys.”

In terms of that COVID list guys, I believe OL Hroniss Grasu and Armstead came off today, so how has that impacted preparations this weekend? And do you feel that a postponement of Sunday’s game is more in play than it was maybe three weeks ago against the Packers?

“I think it possibly could have been last week when we were off, but I think this has given us enough time to recover. At least we’ve been good in our building for a number of days and stuff. So, it doesn’t look like it’s getting worse, at least in our building. So, as long as we don’t get it in here, that would surprise me. It’s just going to make it tough to practice this week. We’ve got a number of guys out who probably won’t be back for the game. We’ll see how that goes, but as far as last week, we couldn’t do anything last week. So, that’s the main thing we missed.”

What does your schedule look like this week? Were you able to get players in yesterday or did it only start today?

“We were able to get guys in yesterday. We were able to meet them just on the field, get a little bit of a walkthrough. We were shut down for the whole week after that New Orleans game. So, we weren’t able to come in at all, which, I mean, it was good to get the guys fully rest, but yesterday, we were allowed to get out on the field. We’re going to have a totally normal week in terms of practice with Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. So, I didn’t want to make them go four days in a row so we couldn’t really go very hard Tuesday, but we just got guys out there. You take a week off, we just wanted to remind them where the numbers were, the hashes, getting in and out of the huddle, stuff like that to try and make today go a little more smoothly.”

When you look at potentially getting guys back for Sunday, of course there are a number of guys on the COVID list, but do you have to temper expectations like you mentioned a couple of weeks ago, that those guys haven’t played in a while and it’s not going to be like a magic wand?

“Yeah, definitely. I’m really hoping that we’ll get Deebo and Raheem back and Jeff Wilson and Sherm this week, but they haven’t played in a while, so we’ve got to be smart with them. The guys who have been playing, they got a lot of rest this last week. So, hopefully their bodies are fresher and stuff, but we do have a different issue this week which is just seven or whatever that number is of guys being down on the COVID list. So, we’ve got to be smart. We’ll see if we have a chance to get them back at the end of the week. We’re not guaranteed at that, so we’ve got to be smart with the practice squad guys that we use today for practice squad and for normal reps because if those guys don’t come back, those guys are going to be the guys playing in the game. So, we’re doing the same type of schedule, but we’ve got to move players around and play some guys at different positions just to get through the practice.”

If Richard Sherman is clear to go play, does he just jump into the starting lineup or does he, you’ve got to work him back and ramp him up and what are kind of the aspects that you would look at how you work that whole cornerback position when he’s back in the mix fully?

“If Sherm’s back there and back to himself fully a hundred percent, we’ll get him out there fully. I’m glad we got him in a week before the break we had here, just so we could get him acclimated a little bit. Didn’t get to see him at all on the week off, so we’re going to get out here in a little bit in the next hour and practice, and we’ll see how this week goes. When Sherm’s ready to go, he’ll be back to his spot, but in a no hurry to do that. We’ve got number of guys who have been playing well while he’s been out and we don’t mind easing him back in either. That’ll be decided how he looks in practice these next three days.”

I’m doing a Thanksgiving poll. What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions and your favorite Thanksgiving foods as well?

“I’m probably a little more boring person to ask that. My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is getting out of work a little bit earlier than usual. By the time I get home, usually everyone’s mad at me for making everyone wait all day. That’ll be easier this year since we don’t have people. But, I always liked just watching, growing up, I was always watching the games with my mom, my sister. My dad was never there until later. We were mad at him when he got home, but it was always watching the football games. Mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, all together.”

You mentioned you want to see guys get better over these final stretches. Exactly how would you define guys getting better and how might that show up in ways that we might not see?

“You’d have to look at an individual and not everything. Getting better means playing better than you did the week before, playing better than how you did at the beginning of the year. Guys can come into training camp one way and they start off the year one way. Some guys start their best at the beginning and finish bad. Some guys start bad at the beginning and finish good. My goal is that everyone keeps getting better, regardless of the situation. I think we’ve got a number of guys who can do it who have room to grow. I think that there’s been a bunch of guys who got a lot of opportunities this year who didn’t necessarily expect it going into the year and they need to take advantage of this playing time that, one, to help our team this year and to help themselves and our team going forward in the next year.”

I just wanted to clarify something. I’m sure you don’t know everything regarding the guys on COVID, but did you say or indicate you knew for sure there might be a couple of guys that won’t be able to play on Sunday?

“Yeah. I expect there to not be guys who can play. I’m just hoping that they can, so we’ll see. I know Armstead is going to be allowed to practice tomorrow, so I know we’re getting him back tomorrow fully. He was allowed to go to walkthrough today, but the other guys, we’ve got to wait and see. I’m not counting on it, but I’m hoping.”

There’s a report that CB K’Waun Williams had his suspension rescinded today. Is that accurate, first of all, and second, what is your timeline for him coming back from that injury also?

“I know he’s still a few weeks away, two or three, roughly. Don’t hold me to that, but I know that’s our estimate of it. I knew that he had some issues with the failed tests, something that completely shocked him just hearing from him and stuff. So, it doesn’t surprise me if it was overturned. I heard that coming in, but I don’t know anything for confirmation.”

You’ve been asked about OL Colton McKivitz and how he’s faring, I guess. What’s the latest for him? In effect, is this kind of an audition for him to say, ‘Hey, I can be a starter for you guys next year?’

“Yeah, it is. It is for everyone, even the guys who have been starters. Can they continue being starters? That’s the league every year. He and [OL Tom] Compton have both been given an opportunity. Then moving [OL Daniel] Brunskill to center, he’s been given an opportunity to show us where he can help at other positions, too. I was impressed with Compton and McKivitz coming in on early notice versus Green Bay and rotating and playing pretty good. I thought both of them took a step forward in the right direction versus New Orleans. So, we’ll see how this year keeps going with both of them. They’ve been competing real well and we’ll see if one gets ahead of the other, but I’ve been happy with their progress so far.”

I was wondering, what’s been the mood like in the locker room, just as you guys battle the injuries and all the COVID that’s going on or the positive COVID tests. Then I guess, how are you making sure that you’re keeping this playoff message going, if you can just talk about that?

“The mood’s been, it is what it is. It’s kind of different. It’s a little unusual. To go on your bye week and we had a bunch of plans on the bye week and we knew couldn’t go any places since we had to get tested each day, but guys plan on working out and getting healthy and stuff. It was just weird for guys not to be able to do anything for seven straight days. So, I think the mood was kind of, it was tough for the players wanting to work out places and do things, which was very tough. I keep saying maybe it’ll work for us because we did need some rest. We’re all excited to get back in here and get together, but we’re not in here. So, we’re all meeting on Zoom calls and stuff, which has been fun. We all get on there and mess with each other for about 10 minutes, almost, before we start a meeting. So, you can tell guys miss hanging out with each other and stuff. Once we got out to the field for walkthrough, guys were eager to get out there, but we have had a week off. Everyone’s got some cobwebs from that, coaches included. When you’re not together and talking ball and doing it each day, you need some time to get it back. That’s what today’s about. Just had a decent walkthrough and plan on going out there and working again and just making sure we’re ready to go by Sunday.”

Former 49ers cornerback Eric Davis recently said Richard Sherman could be the next former 49ers CB Merton Hanks at free safety. They played together. Do you still feel there’s a future for Sherman at that position?

“Yeah, I think Sherm could do whatever he wanted to do. If that’s where he saw his career going and he was committed to it, he’ll figure out a way to do it. I loved Merton Hanks and Eric Davis. Huge, huge fans of those guys. Sherman doesn’t have as long of a neck as Merton, but he’s got more hair that could help him with the hitting, I guess. Sherm, whatever challenge he wants, I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

What was the injury to WR Jauan Jennings and are you expecting him back before the end of the season?

“Hoping so. We think about three weeks away. It was tough because he was doing really good in practice, and definitely would’ve ended up helping us this year, but he pulled his hamstring really bad, as bad as anyone we’ve had this year. I forget what week it was, but it was about a six-week injury. So, he did that and it’s been unfortunate because he would’ve had some opportunities here, the way things have gone.”

Have you had a chance to check in on Trent Williams and how he’s doing? I guess he told ESPN the other day that he indeed tested positive and was battling some stuff.

“I haven’t talked to him recently, but I heard the same stuff. He’s been in communication with everyone up here. I’ve seen him on our Zoom meetings, but I haven’t called him out in front of a whole team yet. But, I’m sure he’s doing all right, but I know he’s just trying to get healthy and get back as soon as he can.”

The opposite of the dynamic of the bye week that the Rams are facing this week, East coast game on Monday night, and then they have to play the shorter week. In your experience coaching those situations, how has that impacted your team the following Sunday?

“It’s gone both ways. Sometimes you’re so locked in to football and you don’t get too far away from it and you just keep the machine rolling and guys are in the groove and it helps you. Then I’ve been on the opposite, where the East coast trip, playing Monday night, you’re tired, the traveling and it’s hard to get back up for it. So, sometimes it’s a huge benefit. Sometimes it’s a huge negative, just like bye week. I’ve had times where bye weeks help you so much because you need the rest and you come out and you’re going. And then I’ve had bye weeks where the rest hurts you. So, whichever way it is, it’s going to be one or the other.”