Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – December 11, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“All right, guys, injuries from the game. [DL] Javon Hargrave, he had a hamstring. Maybe a chance later in this week for this game. We’ve just got to monitor to see how this week goes. [CB] Charvarius Ward, similar with his status for this week a maybe, towards the end of the week. We’ll have to see how it goes. He had a groin. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, his hip slash ankle, he is day-to-day. [LB] Oren Burks has some knee tendonitis. We’ll probably have to shut him down here for a couple weeks. Updates from players who missed the game, [DL Arik] Armstead, foot and knee, likely be in the same boat this week as last week. [TE] Ross Dwelley, high ankle. We’ll see how the week goes. [OL] Spencer Burford, hope to get him back this week. [CB] Darrell Luter [Jr.], expect to have him back at practice on Wednesday. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, also hoping to get him back this week too.”
What’s the expectation for CB Jason Verrett that you’ve conveyed to him? Do you hope to get him on the field this season or is he insurance? What have you kind of figured out as far as what his role’s going to be coming to the practice squad right now?
“Just coming in, being on the practice squad, showing us where he is at, being a part of our team that way. When you’re on the practice squad, you’re only a couple plays away from possibly being a starter or just being out there on game day. So, he’s going to try to show us he’s ready for that moment and hopefully give us some depth there once we get a chance to see him.”
Any updates of your talk with maybe DB Deommodore Lenoir about being ejected from the game last night?
“Yeah, he reached out to me last night. He already knew how we’d feel about it. That’s something we feel very strong about. We’ll play as physical as anyone in this league, but we never go anywhere past what football is. I love how he’s got all his guys’ backs and everything, but everyone else on our team has their backs also and that’s not what we do. We don’t throw punches to get penalties and we definitely don’t do it to get ejected. So, he was very remorseful of it and I believe it. It was a good lesson learned. I think he’ll be much better about that in the future.”
How’d you feel about his play last night, especially with Charvarius Ward being out?
“Oh, I thought he played great. We started out expecting to be nickel for most of that game. Mooney going down there on the second play, we had to switch it real fast and he didn’t even hesitate. He challenged the receivers all game, was able to come up with that interception that [DL] Nick [Bosa] took away from him. Then he almost had that first one that he had that just deflected off his hands. So, I thought Demo was unbelievable in the game.”
What’s your reaction to moving into the number one spot for the NFC playoffs and how are you guys going to maintain that spot the next few weeks?
“Not much of a reaction. I’ll have a reaction when it is the number one spot, if it is, because that’s when the season ends. Right now it doesn’t mean much. It just means where you’re at now. I know we won’t be that if we don’t handle business this week. So, that’s really all we’re worried about this week and then we’ll move to who we play after that.”
RB Christian McCaffrey said after the game that the offense was a little sloppy. But, the fact that may be true and you had 527 yards, an average of 9.9 yards per play and there are other statistics, does that say something about where this offense is? Is there maybe more to come as far as you guys haven’t peaked?
“I think we’ve made a lot of good plays and we’ve got a lot of good players out there and we were able to score 28 points. But, I think when you have 11 yards per play at halftime and you’ve only got 14 points, and then we get the ball a number of drives and we’re only able to get two scores there in the second and you look at all the yards and the stats and stuff, I feel like you should have more to show for it. Fortunately our defense was able to come up with that pick at the end and not let them get back into it. But, I thought there were some opportunities in the first half we missed, mainly with just getting off in that drive with the interception. Then in the fourth quarter they went down and scored and made it 21-16. It was great job stopping them on the two-point conversion because it would’ve been a three-point game like that going into the fourth. That was our biggest drive on offense because we scored right away and answered. So, we took it right back to a two-score game. Then we got the huge pick by [S] Ji’Ayir [Brown], which that’s our time to finish someone on offense. We got a big play going down and we ended up having that fumble which gave them the life back there. So, we’ve got three and a half minutes to go and they still got the ball and they’re only down two scores. We made it a lot closer than I feel like it should have been. We should have put that away. That’s why I think it felt a little sloppy.”
Did you have a chance to talk to P Mitch Wishnowsky about his decision to run?
“No, I haven’t talked to him because when I came in today I heard it from the coaches and stuff and pretty much how I expected it to go with using the word mate in there and stuff like that. So, I think it went that way. Mitch is a hell of an athlete, didn’t hesitate on it. It was awesome. It was a really cool play. Glad I got my first fake punt in even though it didn’t count.”
I know you were asked about the runoff at the end of the second quarter yesterday, but why didn’t you call a timeout there and make them punt?
“Well, I was trying to say last night that I didn’t like the decision to do the 10-second runoff and I was regretting that, but then I felt, ‘man, I could still use these three timeouts after this depending on how this play went goes.’ I wouldn’t want to do that necessarily if they got a big play and stuff. Last thing I want at that time is for them to launch it up and get a big go-route or just a PI and give them momentum going into halftime that I feel we really have at that moment. But, once we got that intentional grounding, I did regret that 10-second runoff. But, I was so shocked once I saw the clock running after the incompletion of the 10-second runoff that I spent eight seconds trying to talk to the ref about how it shouldn’t be running off. Then by that time it was already down to 30 and I was like, ‘oh, now I’m not going to do it.’ So you know what, we might as well get out of here safe, not give them a chance to launch one up and get a PI or anything and we’ll go in because I think we got the momentum. I mean, it’s not a hundred percent decision on whether to go that way. That’s why I wasn’t getting much advice on it because our analytics thought it could go either way at that time. But, I definitely wish I would’ve done it differently but when I got confused on the time rule on that, I just felt it was a little too late and I was like, ‘you know what, let’s not get picky here now let’s just try to go into this halftime up 14-10.’”
On Christian’s long run at the beginning of the game there, QB Brock Purdy you can see kind of run down the field as the play is happening at full speed there. Is there a reason that he’s attempting to do something there or is it just pure excitement?
“I think at first is because he thought he could get in on the block. You see his change of pace about 50 yards away once he realistically realized he couldn’t. Then he picked it up again I think because he was just excited to get down there and celebrate with him. But you never know with Brock, you can ask him. He is trying to do everything he can.”
With WR Brandon Aiyuk’s blocking, is he continuing to improve in that area or is that kind of a standard performance for him in blocking?
“I think he’s been doing it pretty consistently. I mean, you guys think back to the Pittsburgh game in Week 1 and the 60-something-yarder Christian got, I think in the first play of the third quarter or whatever it was. Aiyuk is leading that whole way with [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III] on the backside. I think it’s rare that one of our guys don’t do that on a play. There’s not many plays that kind of get in that situation where it can look so cool and show everyone how hard they’re working. But, I think if you look in all of our games, look, it’s one of the plays, I think it’s like a 20-yard run to the left by Christian. I think he broke about 20 yards, and the middle-third safety ran him out of bounds. But, if he wouldn’t have run him out of bounds and he got by him, look at what [WR] Deebo’s [Samuel] doing on the backside and the angle he’s taking to run to the end zone with the only corner left. You just don’t see it because they don’t break it. But, I feel like if that happened you’d see whoever our player was in that situation. I think [WR] Jauan [Jennings] does it all the time. I go back to Ray-Ray versus Pittsburgh. Whenever our guys don’t do it, they’re going to stick out to the other guys.”
With Deebo when look back as to when he kind of started this role as both a running back and a wide receiver, do you remember when you first realized that he could really do this and implemented it?
“I mean, his rookie year we started giving him runs. I remember Week 1 versus Tampa Bay, which was his rookie year we put in a play called X-Force which was because Deebo was the X, he moved, he’s been Z for the last four years, but he was X then. That’s why we came up with the whole Deadpool package. That goes back to Deebo’s rookie game. So, we always thought he could run. We just didn’t realize how much we would do it and we used it sporadically throughout that year. But, we really got into it in ‘21 when we had all the injuries at back. Every time we gave him more handoffs he just kept doing better and better at it. So that’s when the role really picked up because when him and Elijah in our run game and what we had committed to really those last six games that year, really I felt what led us to the NFC Championship Game. He still does it at times. We’ve got a lot of other good running backs too, but Deebo’s the guy you want the ball in his hands and the only way you can guarantee that the ball is in someone’s hands is to hand it off to him.”
It seems like the last couple of games when you needed a spark, you’ve gotten it to Deebo. Is that something you’re doing on purpose or is it just kind of the way it’s played out?
“I mean, we always try to get to Deebo to get a spark if you look since he’s been around. But, our other choices too, if we go to Christian at the time, [TE] George [Kittle], B.A., Jauan, anybody. They all can give sparks. It kind of depends on what teams are playing, how they’re playing us. Deebo has also strung together a number of healthy weeks here over this last month, which has allowed him really to get back into the groove of things and be more consistent and just being out there and not having to sub him quite as much and him kind of being ready for all this stuff. So, it’s awesome when you can put him there and the more he does it the more people are going to focus extremely hard to take those away because if he isn’t a good look that’s usually the results you get. The more we can get people to take Deebo away, there’s nothing against Deebo, that means he’s a threat and that makes things easier for other guys. So it really should be ebb and flow like that throughout a year based off the guys we have and distributing it.”
With Ray-Ray McCloud out for a little bit longer, do you plan on having Deebo doing kickoff returns or continuing to do it?
“Most likely. That wasn’t just a decision with Ray-Ray being out, it was also a decision we were thinking about going to regardless. Nothing against Ray-Ray or anyone. It was just more ways to get a special player like Deebo the ball in his hand. We’ve got to take that risk-reward every week. We’ve decided to do it the last two weeks and we’ll come up with that decision each week here going forward.”