Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 21, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“The injuries for today. [DL] Arik Armstead, foot/knee won’t practice. [TE Ross] Dwelley, ankle, won’t practice. [DL Javon] Hargrave, hamstring, won’t practice. [LB] Oren Burks knee, won’t practice. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, knee won’t practice. [WR] Jauan Jennings, concussion, won’t practice. [DL] Clelin Ferrell, ankle, will be limited. That’s it.”


Do you have any sense of maybe the game status for Armstead and Hargrave?

“Nope. I don’t.”


How is Jauan moving through the concussion protocol?

“He’s in the protocol.”


What’s the thing that stood out to you when you started looking at the Ravens defense and what they do to kind of put you guys in situations?

“You look at, the numbers are usually the first thing you see and you see how great their numbers are. Then you turn on the tape and it looks just like their numbers. They’re really good against the run, really good against the pass, extremely sound coverages. They know how to get after it with pressures. They know how to get after it with front four. So, a really good defense.”


What do you see from Baltimore Ravens S Kyle Hamilton specifically with his versatility in the way they can use him in different spots?

“Just knowing the talent coming out of college and now watching him in their scheme and just seeing how good of a football player he is. Anytime you’re that long and you can run gives you a bunch of advantages. But he also fits into their mentality with how physical he plays and has the size to do a lot of things, but also has the feet and length to cover.”


It’s been a while since you’ve seen Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, but maybe a different scheme. It seems like they’re using him in different ways. How has he maybe evolved in what they’re trying to do with him now?

“It was a while since we played against him, but seen him over the years. It’s still the same run scheme, looks very similar. I think they just mix in a few more passes, more drop-back plays and things. I think he’s always been good at that stuff. So, he really is good at whatever they decide to do. He’s a problem in whatever.”


When you prepare for Lamar in practice, who plays him?

“We’ll have both of our quarterbacks so they’ll try their best.”


Is there anything that jumps out to you about what WR Deebo Samuel’s been able to do in the last month or since he’s come back from the shoulder that kind of just explains why he’s been so consistent?

“Just that he’s come back and gotten healthy. When Deebo’s out there and can string together practices and weeks, it’s a matter of time before the ball comes his way. I mean, nothing in particular that’s been different than usual. I just think he’s strung together a few more healthy weeks. I think I said earlier in the year, I thought he had some of the best games the first couple weeks even at Pittsburgh and the ball didn’t just go that way. Then he has some setbacks with his injuries, but he’s been good here for a while and it’s came his way.”


They have four pretty good receivers. What stands out about the receivers and is there any pattern to the usage? Is there one guy that you would consider their number one receiver?

“You’ve always got respect for [WR] Odell [Beckham Jr.] and what he’s done, but the young guy’s real good too. They’ve got a number of guys. They’re not going to force it to anyone. Lamar makes the right decisions. They’ve got guys who are real good in man-to-man. They’re really good after the catch. So, I’d say they just have a solid group overall.”


In case WR Chris Conley has to play on Monday, I think he ran a 4.35 back in 2015. Does he still have that level of speed at this point in his career?

“I think it’s like a 4.36 now, depends. Yeah, I know he’s got it. We see it out there all the time. Chris, it’s not just his speed though. Chris has been a real good football player for us and he’s been ready to go anytime we’ve had him up and we’ll see how it is this week.”


There’s speed and athleticism. Do they ask the same things of Baltimore Ravens LB Roquan Smith and Baltimore Ravens LB Patrick Queen as you guys do from LB Fred Warner and LB Dre Greenlaw?

“Similar. I think those are the two guys who jump off the tape and I think they’re the most comparable to our guys that I’ve seen this year and a couple years. To me, those two guys make the defense go. They’re big. They can run and they can hit and not just because they’re big because their intentions are that way. You can tell they like playing football. They’re very smart players too. They’re good in coverage. They’re two of the better zone droppers in the league and two of the better man-to-man guys also. So, they’re as good as it gets.”


What’s difficult about facing a defense that has two elite linebackers?

“Just how much room they can cover. That’s what allows them to be so good in zone, just how good those guys are on the inside, how much field they can take between the numbers, takes the pressure off their corners, who can stay on top and take away the explosives. To me, that’s one of the reasons they lead the league in sacks because of how good their coverage is with a bunch of good guys up front. It just allows them to do what they want.”


How much of their sacks are generated individually as opposed to scheme and just confusion?

“I think more is individually and just sound, good coverages. They usually have four guys who can rush it. They’ll blitz and do that stuff too. They’ll mix up throughout the game so it challenges all your protections, but the hardest thing is how it is to get people open. When they have seven in coverage they’re very sound. They don’t mess up much and make you go to two, make you go to number three and they have all the rushers who can get there by that time.”


From that standpoint, is this kind of a big game for QB Brock Purdy as far as being challenged shoulders up?

“I think it’s a big game for everybody because there’s not just one way in particular. They lead the league in sacks. Right away you think about our O-Line. That is true because they have good pass rushers. But also, that has a lot to do with how good our receivers do get into their spots and getting open, Brock to get it in the right spots, guys not getting rerouted so they can’t get there in time. So, when you play a sound, good defense with good players all over, it’s a little bit of everything.”


How familiar are you with your new DL Taylor Stallworth?

“Not real familiar. We just worked out a bunch of guys yesterday. I know our guys really liked him from what they’ve seen on him earlier and definitely loved him in the workout. We’re low on numbers so we had to get him part of his practice squad and we’ll see how he looks this week.”


How did you feel your interior or your defensive line did in the game?

“I mean, it was a huge challenge for them. I thought we struggled obviously in stats. I don’t think it was at all on them. Losing [DL] Kalia [Davis] during the game really hurt because we just tired out a lot. But, I think we’ll be better this week.”


As it relates to wide receivers in run blocking, I realize your dad’s not coaching in high school or whatever, but is that something like.

“You say he’s coaching high school?”


No, I sort of realize he’s not like your high school coach.

“Oh, gotcha. But I was like, I don’t think he is.”


Was that something you would talk about with him? It seems like it’s just as important to him as it is to you, like the importance of being an all-around receiver and blocking?

“Definitely, because you also understand how important it is to football and how important it is to running the ball and how important it is to plays off the run. But no, that’s why I could never play for myself or I would never play for him because even if I tried to block, I wasn’t very good at it. So, you can recognize that fast when you couldn’t do it.”


The O-Line doesn’t get a lot of accolades, but what can you say about their performance this year and how they’ve helped you obviously do all the things you need to do?

“I think they’ve been great. When you look at our whole offense just as far as running the ball and throwing the ball, you can’t do that stuff without a good O-Line. You can’t do that stuff without a good quarterback. You can’t do that stuff without good players that he’s throwing to. The success of us throughout the year so far, there’s not one group that is to me isn’t playing at a high level.”


You have three young guys who all got time at the end of the Arizona game, CB Darrell Luter Jr., DL Robert Beal, LB Dee Winters, they all were flying around. What is your guys’ evaluation of how they’ve come on this year as rookies?

“I mean, that stuff’s huge when you can get those guys playing time. Those guys have come on strong because they’ve been ready to go, they’ve been working, very similar to how I talked about [S] Ji’Ayir [Brown]. But you never know when they’re going to get thrown in the heat of the battle. Sometimes when you go out there you’ve got to learn by failing. So when those guys can get into these games, especially at the end of games, and it’s happened a couple times throughout the year, Luter later, but guys like Dee and stuff they get a lot of experience each time they do it. They seem better. Hopefully they won’t have to do it too much until the future. But if that comes up, which it could come up any day, those guys got a little bit more experience now and they’re getting better each week.”


There’s a funny clip of RB Christian McCaffrey on Monday Night Football with the Mannings about how he flopped. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but the fact that he was willing to go to the extra mile to kind of try and get a penalty called for them. Do you see that often?

“I didn’t see the Manning Cast, but are you talking about when you flopped first Philly? I saw that and I thought that’s like the only thing you didn’t do very well this year. It wasn’t the best flop. It can’t be so obvious.”


So you’ve just got to do it better?

“No, not really. You want guys to do that. You’re not a lot of touch guys after the play. So sometimes guys can’t see it because it happens so fast, but they can see a reaction but you don’t want it to turn into the NBA too fast.”


There’s a lot of debate about whether QB Brock Purdy or McCaffrey should be the MVP. As a former D1 wide receiver yourself, does it bother you that a wide receiver has never won it?

“I’m glad you say that first. That a wideout hasn’t. I mean, not because of my lame history as a player. I don’t even want to talk about the award because it’s a lose-lose and whatever the award is, but it doesn’t bother me. You start to adjust to it and you look at it and it does seem like it’s more quarterbacks. Doesn’t mean that a wide receiver can’t, doesn’t mean a running back can’t, doesn’t mean a D-Lineman can’t. If one person voted on it then they might do it that way, but collectively I don’t know. I don’t even know who votes. You hope they get it right, but it doesn’t matter that much to some people.”


WR Brandon Aiyuk early in 2021 much was written about how he had to do this and do that to earn your trust, more playing time. How much of that was tied to run blocking?

“Not much. It was just tied to just consistency of the game. I can’t believe how long that stuck because every three weeks I got to talk about how far he’s come since then, which I think is kind of an insult to him. So that’s why I don’t like always getting it repeated. Aiyuk got to play in the COVID year, he had no offseason. We lost like three receivers that year and he really never came off the field, didn’t get an offseason the next year. He was a little behind in training camp and [Buffalo Bills WR] Trent Sherfield was here that year and he was a veteran who was ready for training camp. So we went into the first game and that was how training camp went. And the other guy was just more consistent at that time. It didn’t mean B.A. wasn’t doing it, yeah, he had to do some things to get more consistent to be ahead of Trent at the time. But that wasn’t like he was in the doghouse or had to have this whole epiphany. That’s what football is. You’re not always ready to go as a rookie. Sometimes you get thrown in there anyways. That can be good and it can be bad. But that’s why a lot of people have rookie slumps. Sometimes you learn from failing and sometimes they don’t realize, ‘man, I played my whole time as a rookie, that was pretty good.’ Yeah, it was. But you’ve got to be better than the guy behind you at all times, not just potential-wise. I think he came to camp a little off and that’s what happened. I think he corrected that about halfway through the second game. So, it’s been really good since then.”


Another one on wide receiver run blocking. When you had WR Taylor Gabriel for Cleveland, do you create guys like that on a curve because they’re like 130 pounds?

“Yeah, but it’s all about, Taylor was also the pound for pound strongest guy on the team. He was the only guy who weighed a hundred and like 60 pounds who could bench 300. He was wired. But yeah, there’s size factors always. That’s why you’ve got to learn the type of track by the back, how to stay square. No one just goes out there and just manhandles a guy. You’ve got to be tied to the guy behind you and how to set people up and stuff. Also back then, when people were running at you straight over just to kill you you’re allowed to cut so they couldn’t just tee off on you. Now you’ve just got to stand up and take it, which isn’t a problem either as long as you fall down and he falls down with you. If he’s kicking your butt, he’s not making the play. So, you’ve got to do one or the other.”