Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 15, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening Comments:

“Injuries today. [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] won’t practice, elbow. [LB] Fred [Warner] won’t practice, ankle. [RB] Elijah [Mitchell], no practice, concussion/knee. [DL] Maurice Hurst, calf. [TE George] Kittle, knee soreness, won’t practice. [DL] D.J. Jones, same thing. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, groin. [OL] Alex Mack and [DL Nick] Bosa and [CB] Dontae [Johnson] won’t practice, it’s not injury related. Throw [T] Trent Williams in that also. [S Jaquiski] Tartt has a glute, he’ll be limited. [CB] Ambry Thomas, concussion, he’s limited. Go ahead.”

Have you made a decision on DL Dee Ford?

“Yeah. He’s not going to be back this year. For the future is what you’re saying?”

Well, I was asking about the window this year.

“Yeah, no, he had to be good by today and he’s not, so we’re shutting him down.”

Where do you go from here with him? Is it rehab? Will he stay here?

“No, he is not going to stay here because he is done for the year. He’ll go back to, I think Kansas City is where he does his other rehab. Then we’ll address it after the season.”

Does he need any additional surgery or anything like that or is it just rehab at this point?

“No, I think just rest.”

Is Dontae back with the team?

“No, he is not back yet. Hopefully we’ll have him back later in the week though.”

Elijah is obviously still in the protocol?


The announcement was just made that the 49ers will now have a market in Mexico, officially through the international program. What are your thoughts on San Francisco possibly playing in Mexico or essentially having maybe a training camp or a camp with players out there?

“Oh, I’d be all for it. I love Mexico. I love going there. And it does seem like they’ve got a bunch of die-hard Niner fans too, so we get a lot of love there when we go there and I always enjoy it.”

The game isn’t going to be in Cabo San Lucas though.

“(Laughing), We can make that happen I’m sure.”

Mexico City, not Cabo just to clarify.

“I like Mexican people, I haven’t been to Mexico City very much, but I’d always rather play here, but that’s definitely a lot closer and I’m more familiar with that than London. So I’m more down with Mexico City.”

Kittle seemed like he was pretty banged up after that game with a lot of workload, obviously, so what’s the concern level? You said it was a knee rather than a calf?

“Yeah. I’m just told its soreness. Soreness isn’t as much of an injury. It’s just that the game is a violent game. It’s tough to get over it, get over some of the soreness and especially with us having a Thursday night game coming up. Just giving him a little bit more rest.”

This is probably a question for Dee, but I know you mentioned his back stuff is probably a lifelong thing. I mean maybe going to rehab suggests he still wants to play, but is retirement a possibility for him?

“I mean, that’s what it sounds like, but you’d have to talk to him about that. It’s a back thing that I don’t know if there’s much rehab for it. You have to keep resting it and we’ve done that a bunch, so it’s been tough on him, tough on us and it’s just an unfortunate injury.”

There was a report, I think it was that Dee Ford was talking to people saying that he thought that you guys were going to cut him because he can’t play this year. Is that a possibility of an outright release or anything like that?

“This year? No, we’re not doing that now. I mean, it’s always a possibility, but no, that’s not something we’ve discussed yet or decided on.”

How similar is what Atlanta does with Falcons WR Cordarrelle Patterson with what you do with WR Deebo Samuel?

“He’s listed as receiver and they play him at running back a lot, so that is very similar in that way. Yeah, they’re both those two type of players.”

They are pretty unique in that they can both function as running backs, where a lot of receivers can’t. Do you see teams looking for guys like that more or are they just unique that you can use them that way?

“I think guys look for them. I do think they are unique, but he was the first one that I ever saw. He was really good at Tennessee doing it. They used to put him in the I a lot coming out of college. That year I remember the top two receivers were him and [Jacksonville Jaguars WR] Tavon Austin and they were both viewed as that way. They were both viewed as receivers who could play running back and he was the best I had seen.”

With four weeks to go you are in control of your own destiny. How big was last week’s win considering how jumbled up the six and seven seeds are in the NFC?

“They’re huge, they’re all big. The Thursday night game will be big too. So, each one’s big and it’ll probably come down to the last game for a number of teams.”

Last week, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll announced that their entire team was getting boosters. Have you guys done the same thing or is there a plan to get like team-wide booster shots for everybody?

“No, that’s something they have to decide, just like the vaccine. So that’s something you can’t plan as a team. You can hope it for the team. We have all but one vaccinated. So I think we did pretty good there and we’ll see how the guys feel about the booster. I know we all have to do it, everyone in tier one and tier two. We have to do that, I think by next week.”

Have you gotten yours?

“That’s a personal question (laughing). No, I haven’t gotten mine yet, but I plan on getting it as soon as someone brings a needle to me.”

After you guys moved up to three, there was a storyline, probably a joking storyline that you were secretly moving up there to get Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts in the draft. Was there ever any kind of reason to believe that or were you so focused on quarterbacks that you didn’t even look at Pitts? Or was there any sort of interest there?

“I can understand why people said that because he is that type of player, but no we moved up knowing we were doing it for a quarterback and that’s what we focused on. But we definitely studied him too and I can see why people said that.”

When you were at 12, did you start to look at his tape?

“You look at guys trying to order the stuff, but we had a plan that we were going to get a quarterback, whether it was at 12 or moving up to do. So we knew if we were at 12 and all the ones we wanted went, he would’ve been a hell of an option, but I don’t think he was falling until then.”

You guys are winning and it’s sort of not a big deal, but Deebo’s production as a wide receiver has fallen pretty steeply since he began playing a lot of running back. Is that an issue or a reason for concern?

“No, I don’t think so. It’s just kind of how it is sometimes. Kittle had some real good stats these last two games, the games before that I don’t think he did, but it didn’t mean he played much different. It’s just how it works out. And Deebo didn’t play as much on third down. Him not practicing all week, we limited him a bunch with this play count. And I think he ended up getting like 40, 45, but didn’t have as many opportunities. But the one we did give him an opportunity he did pretty good on.”

Are you concerned at all about K Robbie Gould?

“No, I’m not concerned with Robbie. Robbie’s done this for a while. I think about how many game-winning kicks or ties he’s made in a row. I know that was a tough miss, but Robbie’s a pro, he’ll bounce back from it and I expect him to be Robbie.”

Happy belated birthday, how did you celebrate and did the boys call you? Did they throw a celebration this morning?

“No, birthdays are not very fun in the season. No, it was a normal Tuesday. I kind of forgot it was my birthday for a while, but the cooks and everyone surprised me at lunch for a very awkward birthday song in the taco line, but that was about it. I’ll celebrate with my family on Friday. That’s our weekend.”

Having the close personal experience you have with Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, where is he at right now with his game and what’s your biggest concern as far as how to defend him and that offense?

“I just know what Matt is capable of. You can still see how well he is playing on third down. I think that’s the area that they’re the best in and it starts with him. It doesn’t matter how good you block people, if someone’s open, he’s going to hit them. So you have to make sure you cover people if you want to get to them and Matt’s a hell of a quarterback. I still think he’s playing at a high level. When things are going well around Matt, you’ll see him play at a very high level.”

Do you know Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith at all?

“I know him from phone conversations and we’ve got a bunch of mutual friends, working in Washington where his dad was part owner there. And having friends who worked with him at Tennessee and I’ve talked to him a number of times on the phone, but a lot of respect for him, does some things similar and I like how he does his stuff.”

What about how his offense, what do you kind of appreciate as far as what his thumbprint is on his offense?

“You can tell he believes in the run game, the style that they do it with. Him just coming from Tennessee, I think there’s some similarities. He replaced [Green Bay Packers head coach Matt] LaFleur, when LaFleur left to Green Bay. Just being there with the O-Line coach that we had in Atlanta too and watching the style of runs they do, some of the play actions they do and things like that.”

What do you make of the work that defensive line coach Kris Kocurek has done with DL Arden Key and just in general, the defensive line, which really seems to have hit its stride here the past couple weeks?

“Yeah, I feel we’ve got one of the best, if not the best in Kris. I think he does a hell of a job every year. You guys see how intense he is out there and that’s not just when you guys are out there, that’s every second of the day, seven days a week. So the D-Line have to deal with that a lot. But he coaches them so hard, but they all do what he says and they all respect him. He’s got so much love for those guys. He cares about them so much. And they’ve got a really good group and he’s always pushing them to get better.”

When you have two games in a 10-day period, does it change the way you do things at all the first week? Or do you just get to the first game and then worry about the second game?

“No, I think it does. Today we’re walking through everything, which we would be doing anyways since it’s that time of year. But if it was earlier in the year, I probably would’ve done it just knowing that we have to make sure we go lighter on these guys, having two games in this amount of time. I gave the players a victory Monday, which was our first one, on Monday. And that was coming from the east coast, but it was also knowing how much we’re going to be around each other for 10 days straight, so that you can have the mental break a little bit and also to have them away from us so some coaches can do some of their busy work for Tennessee since next Monday will be a little hectic. So you do some of that stuff, but besides that you keep the same schedules.”