Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan 

Press Conference – December 15, 2023 

San Francisco 49ers 

Listen to Audio I Media Center 

Opening comments: 

“For the game, [DL] Arik Armstead, out, [TE] Ross Dwelley, out, [DL Javon] Hargrave, out, [LB Oren] Burks, out, [RB] Elijah Mitchell, out. [CB] Charvarius Ward, questionable, [LB Dre] Greenlaw, questionable, [OL Spencer] Burford, questionable, [OL] Aaron Banks, questionable.”


What happened to Banks? Did he do that at practice? 

“He had a tweak in practice.”


That was today? 

“Yesterday, yeah.”


Who do you like at the defensive tackle spot without Armstead and Hargrave there? 

“Who do I like? I  mean, I’d like them being there, but I like the other guys on our team too. Are you asking who?”


Is DL T.Y. McGill going to be–? 

“I’m not sure, but somebody from our building. We’ll be down two, so we’ve got to have two more go. We’ll make that decision on Sunday.”


After games, coaches almost always talk to each other and embrace. What do you typically say to the opposing coach after a win or after a loss? I always wondered. 

“I don’t really know. Sometimes good luck. Best of luck the rest of the year. Good game. You kicked our butts, if that happens. If you did it the other way, it’s harder because you don’t want to say good game or congrats or anything like that so you just usually wait for them to talk. Sometimes there’s stuff to talk about if something happened in the game. But no, it’s usually just an awkward handshake and you try to get out of there as fast as possible. See them at Indy.”


How is DT Javon Kinlaw? How has he been able to just maybe build a little bit of momentum from just being healthy? 

“I think the best part about him being healthy is what should be very obvious to everybody, but you get to practice and play football all the time. Football’s the hardest sport to prepare for. You can’t, you have to do it with 22 people out there. You can’t just go practice your shot in the gym. You can’t just do one-on-ones in the offseason or anything. You have to really play the game and we don’t really get to in the offseason with our offseason rules and stuff. That’s really tough on O-Linemen and D-Linemen. When you’ve been hurt every year that you come in and you have to be protected throughout practice the whole week, then you’re only really playing on game day and then you get sore and you miss all that throughout the week. So, that’s kind of been Javon’s story since his rookie year and this year that hasn’t come up once and it didn’t come up in the offseason. He stayed here the whole offseason so he just physically, he was in as good a football shape he could be in which he’s done a couple offseasons. But then he didn’t have any setbacks once we started practicing. So, he’s strung together all these practices. When you’re talented and you work hard, you only get better when you practice. And that’s what’s been so good about [WR] Deebo [Samuel] this last month, [TE George] Kittle this last month. When guys don’t get hurt and they can still play in a game and still practice, not to kill themselves in practice, but just to stay with their routine. All these guys get so much better and that’s been taken away a lot in the NFL, just with the lack of anything in offseason and how little training camp is. It’s so important to practice football throughout the year because you don’t build it up in the offseason.”


Do you think he’s set himself up for the future? Probably coming into this year, a lot of questions around the League about his sustainability and how he could fit in long term. You think he’s done a lot to raise his stock? 

“Yeah, no doubt about it. Everyone around the League knows the talent he was coming out of college. He was starting to show that his rookie year, but then ever since that Dallas game, he just hasn’t been right with his knee. So, it becomes a question of not how good can he get, but whether he can even play or not. What he did this whole offseason was as big of a commitment as anyone as I’ve ever been around. You’re still so nervous for the guy because they can’t control their injuries. But, for him to be able to do this and play, now the tape looks what people anticipated and the whole League has respect and he’s only going to get better.”


Do practice restrictions make it harder than ever to develop young players? 

“Oh yeah, how do you develop them? People have got to get hurt and they’ve got to get in and then usually they’re not ready so they look bad and then they lose their opportunity and sometimes they’re out of the league too fast. So that’s one of the biggest challenges. I think that’s what’s so hard for draft pick picks sometimes to make teams and stuff because it’s just there’s not always time.”


You made it pretty clear at the time that it happened that you didn’t think much of the whole storyline of making a big deal about defensive coordinator Steve Wilks coming down to the sideline. But the defense has been really good the last five games since the Bye and did get better. What areas do you think got better for them? 

“Well, not because Steve is down there. I’ve loved him down there. I think he likes it down there too. But I think, I’ve said this before, but I think we’ve been playing as a group better on all three levels. I think even in our five wins in a row to our three losses, I just think it was a little sporadic. The D-Line had their times, the linebackers had their times, the secondary did. I feel all three of those units have been just on all three levels have been matching each other better. That’s led to more turnovers. It’s led to more sacks. It’s led to a lot more PBUs and it’s been awesome having him down there too.”


The center of your offense, could you give perspective what kind of football IQ someone needs? Then as it relates to C Jake Brendel when you realized how he had that ability? 

“I mean, it takes a ton. It’s really hard to identify everybody out there, get everyone on the same page. Especially when your quarterback in our system, we don’t have our quarterback point it out all the time. We usually have the center do most of that. Quarterback’s got to change some things, but most of it’s on the center. It’s a huge challenge in our system. That’s why a lot of places don’t motion quite as much because that makes it a lot harder on the center. It makes it harder on everybody. So, you’ve got to really work at that. You’ve got to have a guy who can understand the moving parts, not only just on a chalkboard or before the game, but in the heat of battle. It’s really as hard as anything and he’s been so good at it. You’ve got to have a certain personality where you’re constantly thinking and gosh I have lack of words. I’m about to say a wrong one, which I shouldn’t. But, you’ve got to be kind of neurotic about it. Just thinking about it all the time and stuff because it’s constant thought because there’s so much going on and so many moving parts. He fits that personality perfect and didn’t get a lot of opportunities early in his career. [Run game coordinator/offensive line coach] Chris [Foerster] told us about him, first time we brought him here was during COVID. First time I met him was when he came into my office three minutes before they had to opt out or not and something came up so he had to make a decision in like six minutes. So, it was crazy just to lose a guy. Chris told me he had a chance, but we didn’t even know. I wasn’t sure quite what he looked like at the time, but when he opted out, we got him back a year later. It was really that year we saw that he was made of the right stuff to learn our offense, his skillset. He would eventually be able to get it and do it. Just being here and putting the time in, it’s really paid off and he’s done a hell of a job for us these two years.”


I have a 2016 Falcons question. Regarding former NFL WR Taylor Gabriel and former NFL WR Mohamed Sanu, like they had specific roles what you wanted from them. How would you describe just briefly when you got those guys, like this is what you’re going to do? 

“That’s what we do for everybody. Everyone has skillsets and you try to put guys in the position to use their skillsets. And that’s their strengths. People have usually got to work really hard on defense to stop people and their strengths. Every once in a while a guy’s got to do what isn’t his strength, but when you have more than one guy out there and a bunch of guys with different strengths, it usually balances people out. You can put one guy to do all the stuff and that he kind of majors in. Once they’re taking that type of deal away with leverage or coverages or anything like that, instead of asking him to do something that he’s not quite as good at, it’s nice to have four other choices who are different in other areas. You don’t always want the same guy, you want the best guys possible. But, they come in all different shapes and sizes.”