Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 3, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening comments:

“Injuries. [DL] Maurice Hurst will be out. [RB] Trey Sermon, out. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, out. [WR] Deebo [Samuel], out. [LB] Fred Warner, doubtful. [LB] Marcell [Harris], questionable. And that’s it.”

RB JaMycal Hasty is a go?

“Yes. Yup.”

Did Fred make more progress than you expected this week. Is that why he’s doubtful?

“Yes, it is doubtful, but Fred is trying as hard as he can to go and I won’t put it past him. But he’s going to have to do some hard convincing.”

I assuming that means some lobbying with you this week, what’s that been like? “Well, he hasn’t done it to me personally, but just watching him out on the field. He won’t go out there without a helmet was doing everything with every rep on the side on his own. And he’s showing the trainers that he’s got a chance, so he’s not going to give up. That’s what you hope for the guy. But it is doubtful.”

 Hurst, out or doubtful?


Did he suffer any sort of setback or was it just–?

“No, he had a little setback yesterday, which we still don’t know the severity of it. But it definitely is, so he couldn’t go today.”

Has that sort of been the case with him all along, you make progress with that calf and then there’s a setback?

“No, it hasn’t been that, it’s two separate things. But calves are just so tricky, how long they can take. He was showing real good recovery in how he’d been coming along, got out to some reps in practice and a couple of things grabbed on him and scared him and scared us. So we’ve got to shut him down for the rest of the week.”

Any update on DL Dee Ford? Did he have a setback with his back last week?

“That’s just comes and goes. That’s kind of how it’s been, so that’s why you’re never quite sure. That’s why he wasn’t able to go later in this week and most likely won’t go on Sunday. We’ll see how he goes tomorrow though, because that changes.”

Does Marcell still have concussion protocol to clear?

“Yes. Yeah. He’s still in the protocol, but he still has time to clear it.”

I don’t know if surprised is the right word, are you impressed how the running game is able to carry on without T Mike McGlinchey and the job that the right tackles have done in his place?

“Yes. I don’t think people realize how hard it is losing McGlinchey, how good of a run blocker he is. I thought that we struggled replacing him right away. That is why we went to [OL Tom] Compton a little bit more here recently. He’s come in and done a really good job in the run game. [OL] Jaylon [Moore] is getting better in that area and we’ve been able to stay out as much in passing situations also.”

What have you come to learn about LB Azeez Al-Shaair’s spirit and personality, what kind of man he is, what he brings to your locker room?

“I got an idea of Azeez because when [Cleveland Browns defensive line coach] Chris Kiffin was here, he had coached him in college. And I remember I was watching him in the college evaluations and we all liked him, but he had just torn his ACL, so he wasn’t going to be ready right away. And that’s why we were able to get him undrafted. And I just remember us all evaluating him and talking about his chances of making the team with a torn ACL and everything. And I remember Chris speaking up at the end saying that he promised that kid would make it wherever he goes. Just the type of guy he is. I don’t remember exactly his whole story, but I know he helped raise all his siblings. I think he got custody over a bunch of them. He acted like a man at a very young age, even before he got here and he was as advertised. I’ve seen it all myself and on and off the field, he’s been great.”

Is he super positive? He has a great smile for a linebacker, a tough guy, physical.

“No Azeez always has great energy, always seems like one of the nicest guys on our team, but he’s also the quickest to fight out there too. And to show that he knows how to box and loves playing football. So like it’s pretty cool how he can play with that anger and play that physicality and still be the type of guy you’re trying to explain and I am too, so he’s pretty impressive.”

DL Charles Omenihu was mostly on the inside before he got here and DL Arik Armstead would split. It seems like Armstead’s come inside and started to do better there full-time and Omenihu is starting to have success on the outside. Why did you guys decide to go that route? And why do you think it’s starting to work?

“Mainly with Arik, we’ve always liked him inside the most. He does a really good job. We like him in the run game so much on the outside because of what he does to tight ends. But his best spot is always inside. And then once—Dee Ford hasn’t been out there like we were hoping, and then when we lost [DL Javon Kinlaw] JK, we knew we had to move Arik in kind of as a full-time deal, not just third down because that’s where he is the best. And when we lost depth there, we knew we couldn’t shuffle it as much. And getting Charles here has really helped because he can do both too. And he’s got the ability to do it and I think he’s getting better learning what we want.”

Is WR Brandon Aiyuk, last year he had the good stats, is he a better player this year?

“Yeah, I don’t even think it’s close. I think he is much a better player right now.”

With what?

“He’s better in the run game, better in the pass game, much more consistent and I think he’s getting better each week going on about four or five weeks in a row.”

It doesn’t necessarily show up in the stats, he had big the numbers last year.

“Yeah stats are some of the most– they sometimes can tell you the answers, but by no means do they tell you all the answers. There’re times, I don’t want to give stats that I know, because it’d be an insult to some people. But there’s plenty of times stats will fool you. Especially with guys, stats are dependent on other people a lot, but he’s playing at a much– we got a lot more confidence in him now than we did last year.”

As far as the running game and his blocking, he got into that scrap with the Vikings defensive back, is that reflective of the type of blocker he’s become and blocking until the whistle?

“Yeah, I think what’s been cool, whether it’s a run play or pass play, I think he’s been the same on both and he does as good as he can on every play. And whatever that result is, you live with. But the way he is blocking, which you guys are noticing, that’s how I see them running slants too. That’s how I see them going over the middle, just fearless. That’s how I see him running with the ball hard. On that third-and-11 at the end of the second quarter, I thought that was the best route that he’s had since he’s been here. And he needed to do it because if not, he would’ve been squeezed inside about four more inches where their plugger was waiting, [Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony] Barr, it would have been a tip or a pick. And he did a perfect route so he didn’t get squeezed at all. [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] ripped it in there and I just like how he looked after the catch, like how aggressive he is. And he’s gotten that mindset to me that’s now taken his talent to another level and should keep him going there.”

Can you explain a little bit more what was so good about it, that route he ran?

“When you got a guy on your outside half and you just run straight, they’re going to push you in a little bit and then you get in there about this much farther than you should and that’s where a defender is and when you attack a guy’s hip and his outside leverage and you widen that guy, then slip him in. Then you break in and you’re not over the middle, but about a yard less and that’s the inches that you need for Jimmy to make that throw. And it was just a perfect route at a perfect time. And then the way he ran through the ball, not hesitating. First of all, it shouldn’t be there versus that coverage, that’s kind of why I was impressed with it. And that’s why I was running down the sidelines, because I thought that it was going somewhere else.  But then Aiyuk did that route and gave us room when I don’t think there would have been room. And then you just watch him after the play too, so it was a combination of all of it.”

Is that something that you can teach, adjustments in game. When a player sees a coverage or space that players aren’t where they should be. Is that something you can teach or is that just reps and time and just learning?

“No, wide out is different just because they’re not sitting there seeing the whole thing, they got to beat the guy in front of him and get into a certain spot of the field at the timing of the play, when the quarterback’s looking there, when he’s wherever it is in the progression. So it starts at the individual route, on air. And then it goes to how many different ways that route can be ran versus a zone corner, versus a man corner, versus a cloud corner, versus a quarters corner. Like all this different type stuff. Yeah. It’s the same route, but on half of those, there’s not a guy in front of you. Then there is a guy in front of you. So that just comes with how many looks and different things that can happen. And that’s why receivers being really good isn’t always about running routes on air and how fast you are. It’s how you play the game.”

Seattle struggled so much more on offense this year with three-and-outs, but they still managed to get themselves in position against Washington where they almost could have won that game. From my understanding the first game against you guys, they had 200 something yards of offense and they still managed to win. Do they look as dangerous to you as ever going up there?

“Yeah, I feel it’s always the same. They got really good players. They got [Seattle Seahawks QB] Russell [Wilson].  You never know what’s going to happen with those guys and I know they’re struggling statistically, but I feel like it’s just the difference in a few first downs in the game. I don’t know what they’ve always been on third down, but I bet you the difference between now, which they’re struggling and what they’ve normally been, it’s only about three first downs. And when you get those three first downs in a game, that’s a lot more plays and a lot different stuff that Russell ends up doing. When you have [Seattle Seahawks RB Chris] Carson or you’ve got their healthy backs, it’s instead of being third-and-three, it might’ve been a first down on those first two runs and there’s just very small things that can lead to some drastic results. But when you turn on the tape, you see the players, you see the scheme and I see a really good team that is capable of winning every game that they play in.”

We got an early peak at your shoes for Sunday. First, how is linebackers coach Johnny Holland doing and how meaningful is it for you to be able to show your support that way?

“I think Johnny’s doing real well right now. I think we all know he did have a setback, but right now he’s doing great. His numbers are going down. He can’t come in here all the time, because he’s got to be careful of infections. He’s zooming all the time. He’s a part of all our meetings, he comes out to practice when we’re outside. So it’s been great having him around more. It was real cool, when they asked me that with the shoes. But first thing, I just want to support Johnny. I think you guys know how much he means to me, how much he means to everybody in this building. And then it’s just cool that I didn’t know what my Melanoma was until Johnny got it. And then once I found out that he got it, then I’ve kind of seen how many people do have it. So it was kind of cool to bring awareness to it and support him and the cause as much as you can.”

Did you have a hand in the design of the shoes?

“They didn’t give me too many choices. I told them I wanted IGYB on it. And I wanted his initials. That’s all I told them.”