Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 24, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“All right guys, the injuries for this week. We’ve got [OL Hroniss] Grasu, questionable. [DL] Dion Jordan’s doubtful. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, questionable. [DB] Tarvarius Moore, questionable. [RB Raheem] Mostert’s out. [WR] Deebo’s [Samuel] out. [QB] Nick Mullens is out. [CB Richard] Sherman’s out. [DB] Jimmie Ward is out and [CB Emmanuel] Moseley is questionable. Go ahead, guys.”

How did TE George Kittle make it through the week and are you expecting him to go on Saturday?

“Yeah, he looked great this week. Just talked to him, said he felt good here after practice, so I’m expecting him to go.”

What are you expecting to see out of George and why risk any consequential injuries with him at this point?

“I kind of said that the other day, because he’s in the same situation every single other person is on our roster and he’s probably one of the healthiest guys we have right now. The freshest, had two good weeks of practice, feels great after it. So, we wouldn’t put him out at all if there was any risk of reinjuring this or he wasn’t healed, but we’ve got a lot of guys going out there and everyone’s got stuff on the line every time they step out, whether you have two games left and you’re not in the playoffs or whether it’s the first game of the year. That’s what these guys do and if they’re healthy enough to do it, that’s what you do on our team.”

You noted the other day, the possible difficulty of trying to coax a guy off a practice squad roster, especially if that team was heading for the playoffs. You obviously accomplished that with QB Josh Rosen. Did you have to sweeten the offer at all in any way, assure him that he’s going to have a shot during the offseason to be part of your quarterback mix?

“No, they didn’t ask anything like that. I mean, I never talked to anyone, but I know when we called and asked, he was excited to come. And I’m sure you could ask him more on that when you get a chance to talk to him, but no, there was nothing extra.”

In terms of George’s workload, do you have a snap count that you’re going to be pretty strict to on Saturday?

“Yeah, we’ve got an idea in our mind. I’m not going to give you the number because you guys will hold us to it way too hard, but yeah, we understand. He’s in great shape and he’s conditioned very well, but he hasn’t been playing a lot of football here in a while, so we’ve got to be smart with that. We don’t expect him to go in there and play 95 percent of the plays like he usually does. We’ll be smart with him. We’ll see how he goes. I know he’s excited to get out there and play some. I know our team’s real excited to have him out there, but it won’t be his usual deal.”

With Rosen, obviously it’s very unusual for a guy to be on his fourth team after being the number 10 pick two years ago. I realize he just got there, but do you have any sense of what’s been the issue? I mean, he seems to have the arm talent as they say and all that, but do you have any sense of maybe what’s gone wrong for him?

“I mean, no more than you would, probably. I haven’t asked him. I think the obvious thing is he played a rookie season and then the Cardinals had the first pick in the draft and there was a very, extremely unique quarterback there available and they wanted to go that direction. So, it’s pretty easy there. With Miami, it looked like they chose two guys ahead of him and then he went to Tampa and we were able to take him from Tampa, so that’s why he’s on his fourth team.”

How did Jimmy look in his first few practices? I know you said that he can look normal, but he might not actually be completely healthy. I know you won’t see necessarily his ankle problem while he’s on the practice field, but otherwise, how did he look?

“I thought he looked good. Just having him out, throwing again. I mean, always when Jimmy’s out there throwing, it’s usually pretty impressive. We didn’t move him around much because we are trying to be safe with him, but no, he looked great. He looked like Jimmy.”

What about Richard Sherman? That calf injury, when he came back from it, he said he didn’t think it would be a chronic issue or anything. Is there a concern that because there was extra soreness that it is a lingering issue?

“I was surprised when he did come back because I knew how much it was bothering him throughout the year. I think he got well enough for him to come out and play on it and help us out, but I don’t think by any means he was feeling 100 percent. I mean, Sherman, his mindset and everything, I think he would tell you that and that’s what allowed him to come out there and give us some games. You could tell it’s been wearing on him a little bit, just watching him in practice or in games. And he tried to give it to us this week and tried to go, but I had a pretty good idea it was going to be tough for him and that’s the way this week ended up.”

For the players and coaches such as yourself who have had their families there this week, will be there for the holiday and will actually get to see a game on Saturday, do you notice maybe a little extra energy, a little extra pep in their step for lack of a better term?

“Yeah, you can tell the guys who got their families in and the guys who still haven’t. There’s a little more pep in their step as you’d say, which is nice. I think guys, we’re going to get to go and get out of here in a couple hours for Christmas Eve. We’re going a little longer today so I can make tomorrow morning us not come in. So, we’re just having a couple more hours of meetings today on what we would a normal Friday so we don’t have to come in tomorrow until really our night meetings and our night walkthrough and stuff. So, I know the guys who have families in are a lot more excited about tomorrow morning. [Defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh’s family’s not in and told me it doesn’t feel like Christmas totally. I would agree, when you don’t have your family and told him, that’s how I was in college all the time. When you go to a real school who goes to bowl games, unlike Saleh’s, but I was messing with him. But, that was the feeling I had when I was in college. You didn’t get to go home for Christmas and you’re sitting there and it doesn’t quite feel like it’s a little bit different, but no, I’m pumped down my family here and I know a lot of guys are, also.”

With Josh Rosen, what are your goals to see from him in practice over these two weeks? Is there a chance that you guys would want to keep him around beyond these two weeks into the offseason?

“Of course there’s a chance, but I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Josh these last two days and that was so impulsive. I mean, not impulsive, but we came in and we lost Nick for the year with this with his elbow injury and about 30 minutes later, we got told that our other quarterback that we’d been preparing for this for over the last month went on the COVID list. So, it became a very, how can we get a body in here? And then Josh ended up that he wanted to come. It was great. So, we haven’t thought much past that. We’re right now trying to get him to learn the offense. He hasn’t been in an offense like this, so from a terminology standpoint, it’s a huge challenge for him. I’m not really looking at it physically right now. We know he’s physically gifted, but I just want to see how much he can learn so if God forbid something did happen to [QB] C.J. [Beathard] in the game, that he can come in and hand the ball off and when we do throw, know where those guys are and understand what the terminology is. That’s really going to be just him in a ton of Zoom meetings here, which he’s been doing the last 48 hours and that’ll continue all the way up until probably game time. Him and [quarterbacks coach] Shane Day, our quarterback coach, are going at that and I’m not going to ask now because he needs to get some more time. So, really by tomorrow night, I’ll probably have a pretty good idea from Shane and Josh, what he’s capable of doing, what he does understand. So, if he does have to go in, I’ll know what I can call for him.”

A lot of people have described Josh as pretty smart and with Nick Mullens, you said he’s really intelligent. Seems to know whenever he makes a mistake, probably knows it before you even tell him, but sometimes it doesn’t translate. How tough is it to try and evaluate when you have a guy who you can see he’s intelligent and gets it, but you can’t tell if it’s going to translate? How do you evaluate that?

“I think that is one of the toughest things. People use the word intelligent, but, it’s not, ‘Hey, they’ve got a high IQ, they’re going to be smart on the football field.’ It goes hand in hand. I’ve had some guys who their IQ-wise are unbelievable and they don’t seem very smart on the football field and some guys might be the opposite. They get on the field and they always know where to go with the ball. So, there’s a fine line between both. I think that’s one of the hardest things as an evaluator, especially when you’re studying college guys and stuff like that and they’re in certain schemes where it’s almost like fast break basketball that they aren’t challenged that way. The stuff they do in college is unbelievable with the yards they put up and points and that’s why we do a lot of it in the league, but sometimes you can’t see that stuff. So, sometimes you don’t know it until you get a guy in your room so you can spend some time with him, but you also aren’t going to know until you get out there and you watch him perform. So, it’s a long process that you work on and everyone tries to work on it, but there’s no absolute answer and there’s always a lot of time it takes to figure that out.”

Did you get confirmation that for Nick Mullens it’s going to be Tommy John surgery? Also, T Trent Williams spoke about how important you, your father and the whole staff there was in developing him and kind of him growing as a person and how he is, what he is today. How does that make you feel and just the progress from seeing him as a rookie to where he’s at now?

“Nick, it’s not a hundred percent sure with the Tommy John. I think he’s going down to have them look at it and stuff. I’d be probably surprised if not. It’s going to be a long recovery regardless, whether he gets surgery or not, but it’s not a hundred percent sure. They’re going to wait to decide on that once the swelling’s gone down. With Trent, I mean Trent’s been great. That was my dad’s first draft pick when he got to Washington. I remember there was a huge debate between him and [Carolina Panthers T] Russell Okung, who’s had a hell of a career and is a great player, also. I remember how into Trent my dad was and he put us all on him fast. Spent a lot of time on him and then just going through those four years with him, how good he got, some of the stuff he had to do and grow up in those four years, like they all do. Then being able to watch him just while we’ve been away and how good he’s done, and then to watch what he’s been through these two years, being out of football, having him come here and just the way he’s worked for us, the way he’s been a natural leader to me. The way he’s played through a lot of things and that has been cool to watch. It’s cool to watch guys grow up. I’m probably the same. I’m 41 now, so I feel like I’ve aged a lot in these last 10 years, so we’ve all kind of got to see each other and we were all a little bit more kids when it started and now we’re all a little bit older, but his game, how he looks on tape, none of that’s changed. I really enjoyed this year with him. I think I said this to someone yesterday, maybe on my radio show. I think we provided him what I told him we would, how good our organization is, how good our teammates are. I think he’d a hundred percent agree with that. I just wish we provided him a better season with our team and stuff because I know we had that. Lost it pretty early, but I know we’re going to get it back pretty fast here going into next year and really hope he’s a part of that.”

C.J. said the other day that he’s matured a lot, mentally, just given all the things that he’s been through. I’m sure you’ve seen that. Could you explain how that might manifest itself in your day-to-day dealings with him?

“Yeah. I mean, C.J., as I’ve said has been through more than anyone I can imagine here in the last year. Even in these last couple of weeks, I’ve seen it with him. I know you guys talked about Monday being the anniversary, last Monday, of his brother’s passing. How big of a deal that was for him, just this whole year and how it’ll continue to be his whole life. I just know, seeing C.J. Saturday when he came out to walkthrough and he had his hair cut for the first time in a year. He had been growing it out, which I believe, I don’t know whether he said it or not, but I do believe that it was in honor of his brother because that’s exactly how his brother’s hair was and everything. He came down and it was cut and he didn’t make a big deal about it. He wouldn’t, but it was almost like he had accepted some stuff and then he’s going to honor his brother in a different way. Just the way he was in walkthrough Saturday, the way I saw him in pre-game on Sunday, the way I thought he played when he went in, the way he’s carried himself this whole week. I think maybe even the way he talked to you guys, when you guys interviewed him. I think C.J.’s in a real good spot and it’s tough to get there when you go through something that’s hard to even imagine. To see him where he’s at right now, a year later, I know it hasn’t been easy and I know he still hurts all the time, but I’m really happy just watching how he is right now. I know he’s going to go out there and play his off and I hope we play good around him.”

You mentioned how Mullens was on a shorter leash just last week or just in recent games. Does the same apply to C.J. this week or have you seen enough from Rosen in practice to feel comfortable to put him into a game?

“No. I’m not taking C.J. out unless he can’t go because he’s injured.”