Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 30, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“All right guys, injuries for today: [WR Brandon] Aiyuk’s out, ankle, [DT Javon] Kinlaw, out, knee, [T] Trent Williams, out, elbow, [DL] Jordan Willis, out, ankle, [WR] Deebo [Samuel], out, hamstring, [CB Richard] Sherman, out, calf, [CB] K’Waun [Williams], out, shin, [DL Kevin] Givens, tending to a family matter. Limited today: [DL] Dion Jordan, knee, [DB] Tarvarius Moore, ankle, [CB] Emmanuel Moseley, hamstring and [OL Justin] Skule, knee. Go ahead.”

So, we see that you reworked K Robbie Gould’s deal and then we also see that he’s now on the COVID List. What’s your alternative plan for Sunday in terms of a kicker and just how important was it to lock up somebody of Robbie’s experience?

“Yeah, it was great to lock up Robbie. I didn’t feel like we were going to lose him, so I’m just glad we were able to work out something that helped both sides, helps the organization and is good for Robbie, too. So, I think we all felt real good about that. Randomly him getting COVID today, it’s just a coincidence. Wouldn’t have done it if we knew that, I’m just joking. I’m just glad we’re able to get someone in. We got a guy named [former Minnesota Vikings K] Tristan [Vizcaino] who came off the Vikings practice squad. So, we were able to get him in faster to the COVID stuff, so he’s here. We’ve just got to wait until the day, I think Friday we’ll have him out there, but it gives us an option for kicker for the game.”

How much cap space were you guys able to create with the new deal for Robbie and just how important in the overall scheme of things was it to get this deal done, to create some space and help you do other things this offseason?

“Yeah, everything helps. I don’t have my calculator on me right now, so I don’t know exact space it created, but I know it created more space for us this year, which is more of an issue with not everyone knowing the salary cap this year with the COVID stuff going down. We know we all expect it to go up the next year, so I think that’s the stuff that helps us less than this year, more in the next. What was the other question?”

Just in the overall scheme of things, just how does this fit together with being able to do some of the things that you guys need to do in the offseason?

“You need a kicker and you want a good one and we have a kicker and we have a good one. So, yes, you have to make all those decisions financially that affect every other one, but if you decide to move on from a good kicker like Robbie, you’ve got to be willing to get worse or spend close to the same money to try to stay the same. So, that’s, to me, a pretty easy decision. It’s important to us to have a good kicker. We have one of the best, to me, that’s played the game in Robbie and we’ll continue to have him, which helps us not have to fill that hole and we can focus on the others. Everything ties together, so it’s not just one after another. You’ve got to think of all this stuff big picture, but I do know at least now we’re not going and spending money to get a new kicker or spending a draft pick on a kicker.”

Regarding Kinlaw, when you say he’s out, do you mean just for practice today?

“Yeah, just for today. Yeah. Just for today. We’ll see as it goes. I’m not sure of the week, but I know for sure today.”

Okay, and also, he had dealt with knee tendonitis and whatnot in college. Is his current issue tied to that or is this a separate injury?

“I think it’s a separate injury. They didn’t tell me that specifically, so you can ask me that again tomorrow. We’ll see if I get a better answer, but I’m not sure if it’s tied to college. I just know his knee’s been bothering him here.”

In light of tomorrow being New Year’s Eve, I think everyone’s looking forward to 2020 being over. So, what are you most looking forward to about the new year that can be from a football perspective or a personal perspective and do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

“I didn’t even realize tomorrow was New Year’s, so that is exciting. I do want this year to end for everything, not just football, but for 2020 for the world. I’m just excited for a new start. It’s been a grind this year, as everyone knows. I don’t look at it as a negative. I think there’s stuff that, obviously, we’re disappointed and wish it went differently, but I think this year made us harder. It’s going to make us stronger and therefore it’s going to make us better. I don’t feel, football, when you’ve been in this business long enough, you realize football never ends ever. It just stops just a little bit and enough for you to reset to come back and I’m ready to reset. I want our team to reset. I want us to get healthy. I want to figure out some tough decisions and I want to get the Niners back on the field in front of our fans, what we’re used to, playing in our home and get back to life the way we’re used to and get back to playing football the way I know we’re capable of.”

As far as Trent Williams, I think just the way he played this year was easy for observers to forget that he missed all of last season, dealt with cancer for a lot of the year. Was that all a concern for you when you guys were trading for him, what kind of shape he might be in, would he be ready for the start of the 2020 season?

“Yeah, anytime someone misses, no matter what your age is, when you take a year, more than a year off football, you’re always concerned about that. At least knowing the person helped me that’s for sure. Being able to talk to him helped. Hearing what he had to say, hearing how hungry he was helped. Knowing how talented he was and everything, when you hear the hunger, you hear his passion about getting back and getting in a different situation and then it was cool for me to talk to guys like [RB Jerick McKinnon] Jet, Deebo, guys who were working out with him down in Houston who were calling me, telling me about this guy they’re working out with and how talented he is and how ready to go is. I told them I already knew who he was, but that definitely helped because I hadn’t seen him in a while. So, when you hear all those things and you know the guy and you talk to him, I wasn’t worried at all about it because of the information we got. I was a little worried not having much of the time to get him back into football shape just with not having OTAs and the training camp and stuff, but that’s why I was glad he was able to stay healthy in training camp because that got him some of the reps he needed and stuff. I think that’s what got him ready for the year.”

LB Fred Warner was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. What have you seen most from him this year, just in his progress from when he was a rookie?

“Just that he keeps finding ways to get better. I think Fred played at a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro level last year and I think he got rewarded for that this year, but his game still even took a step forward. It’s cool to watch a guy who, we talk about being deliberate in everything you do and not just going to the meeting, but like really getting stuff out of it. Fred is so deliberate in everything he does. The way he eats, the way he sleeps, the way he listens, the way he takes a rep, everything is so focused and locked in to try to get better. When you’re like that, I don’t care who it is or what sport it is or what job, whatever it is. When you are locked in and then kind of in the moment and present in stuff that you’re working at so hard and you have ability, then you’ve got a chance to get better every single day. Fred just stacks days up. That’s how he lives his life and when you’re able to do that every day and not having any bad luck with injuries, too, you only get better. That’s why Fred, he’s had people who have helped him, but that guy is self-made, and it’s with his mindset and work ethic and how he lives his life every day. That’s why he continues to get better.”

I know it’s a small sample, but how has Justin Skule adapted at guard and is he a potential opportunity at guard now in the future and related to that, do you see OL Daniel Brunskill being a guard for you or do you see him continuing to work at center moving forward into this offseason and next year?

“I thought Skule was thrown into a very challenging deal versus Dallas, that I was just proud of him for being able to function. Then, what was really cool about him a week later watching him get a few more days of practice and how he played last week versus Arizona, you could tell how much better he got at guard. That’s kind of how Skule’s been at everything. You give him some time to practice, you give him some time to figure it out and he can help you win a game. I definitely think he’s more at a tackle spot. I think that’s what’s more natural to him, but the fact that he got better in his two weeks playing guard gives him a chance to help anywhere. That’s almost the same story with Brunskill. Brunskill, I think, started his career out maybe as a tight end, was on other practice squads, we got him from the AAF. Slowly earned his way up to be a swing tackle for us, went in games and played well. Then got moved to guard, played well and he had to go to center this year by default, just because of how many guys we lost. Each week he figures it out and gets better. So, to have guys that can move around and give you options, that really helps you as a coach when you look into free agency, when you look into the draft and stuff. It’s not, ‘Hey, we’ve got this guy here, this guy here, we’ve got to go pay whatever it is to get this guy.’ It’s, ‘No, what are the best options for the team?’ When you have guys who can help you win at different spots, it allows you, to me, to make better decisions for the overall roster.”

You said this year has been a grind and looking at last week and then going into Sunday, how do you lead this team to not really approach these games as meaningless games and encouraging guys to put forth their best effort, despite the number of injuries you guys are dealing with and guys that could be out this week?

“To me, it’s no different than last week. Honestly, it’s no different than last year when you’re playing for homefield advantage and playing for the West. I know it is mentally to some people, and if you let the mental part of that change how you go about yourself, it’ll be a joke in what you put on tape and what you put on the field. I said at the beginning of this, like I don’t see it as football’s over after this week. Our season is, but it allows us to stop and reset and to start it back up again. If you stop a week before that ends, when you stop playing football, whether it’s a week before the season ends, when you stop coaching, when you stop going through the process that you go through every week to prepare for a game, when you stop that a week before the year ends, when you stop that a week after it ends, when you think that something can end and you can just sit and not think about it and not start to prepare, that’s usually when you’re on your way out in this league. That’s what I try to stress to people. You play a certain way and if you pick and choose, then this sport’s not going to be for you in the long run. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of guys out. They’re playing for everything. People don’t think that we’re playing for that much, but I always think you’re playing for everything. You can say a lot, but one thing that’s cool about football is you are what you put on tape. I think our guys have got a lot of pride and I think it’s very important that what they put on tape. I would love to have the best record in the division, at least. I know we’re disappointed with our record, but I think we have a chance here to be the only team in the West with a winning record if we can win this weekend and I think that’s a lot to play for. I think it means a lot to our guys and I think that has everything to do with, not just this year, but also showing who you are heading into next year.”

You talked a little about Tarvarius Moore the other day. I want to follow up. How does his speed maybe translate to that position that he’s playing now compared to where he was playing free? Does it give you a little bit more flexibility in terms of ways you can mix and match with those two guys when it’s him and DB Jimmie Ward out there?

“Yeah, I mean speed, anybody who runs and hits, they cover a lot of ground and they shrink the field for an offense. From a receiver standpoint, from a quarterback standpoint, Tarvarius has the 40 and he has the mindset to run through people. That really is a key asset that can shrink the field. I think Jimmie Ward is similar. I think [S] Marcell [Harris], has that too. He might not have the exact same 40, but there’s zero hesitation, so you don’t see that much of a different speed on the field. It’s also why they’ve all been really good special teams players, too. I think they’ve gone through a lot of experience this year, stuff that you always hope when your backup doesn’t get thrown into that, just like our quarterback situations, but these guys in games have shown that they can play at a starter level. When you see that, it’s from them running and hitting. The more they can get better at being consistent and the full aspect of coverages and everything like that, then you’ve got some special guys and those guys got some of the stuff you can’t coach. Now we just, hopefully, they can detail it up, they learn from their experiences and how do they take this into the offseason? When they come back to OTAs and everything, do they know, were there good and bad plays? Were they all positives for them? Does that make them better in OTAs, a little bit more used to going through it? Understanding where to put your eyes and how fast things can get on you and if it does, and they get better from it, you’ve got two players.”

You mentioned a guy named Tristan, but the Tristan Vizcaino was released from the Vikings practice squad a couple of weeks ago. Are you referring to him or Minnesota Vikings K Taylor Bertolet who was on the Vikings practice squad at last glance?

“Referring to Tristan. I didn’t try the last name because I didn’t want to sound like you saying it, but that’s who I meant, yes. From the Vikings. He’s off of it now, but that’s Friday, why we could get him out earlier. Yes, but it is Tristan. Yes, my mistake with off of it now.”

Who would be your emergency kicker if you weren’t able to sign somebody like Tristan?

“Lots of guys say they would. I wish it could be [wide receivers coach] Wes Welker because I know he did it back in New England a couple of times. I’m not sure exactly who it would be. I think we’d go with [P] Mitch [Wishnowsky] most likely since he can kick. There’s about six guys who tell us and we all entertain them so they’re excited about it and I don’t want to have to officially pick because I’ll have five guys mad at me. Hope they’re not watching this. Probably would lean towards Mitch since he does kick for a living, just punts more often. I’m kind of looking forward to the day that that happens so you guys don’t get mad at me if I go for it every time.”

Regarding T Mike McGlinchey, can you confirm that you’ll be picking up his fifth-year option? And then just a second one on him. I assume this is the most scrutiny or criticism he’s probably received in his athletic career this season. From your view, how has he handled that?

“I see him every day. I think he’s handling it all right. I think that’s something everyone needs to go through and then you see how it affects you the next year. I’ve had those moments in my life. There’s stuff you don’t enjoy, but after you get through them, like I say this a lot, but now I look back at them as positives, even though at the time in my life, I couldn’t think of anything worse. You don’t like people questioning you. You don’t like people that care about you a lot. You want to ignore it and you can, but who people care about you a lot, family members and stuff, they read it and it works them up and then that ends up getting back to you. I remember when I was little, I used to want to fight every single person who I heard on the radio and everything because they would talk about my dad. Then when it’s about you, it’s a little bit different. You get a little bit hard into it, but you have to go through it for that to happen. Any coach or any coordinator, any play caller, any players in the limelight, like it’s going to happen. I don’t care how good you are. It’s how you react to that. That’s why I think it’s a good thing for Mike to go through that stuff because I think it can make him stronger. He’s made of the right stuff. He’s a good football player. He’s going to have a great career and I plan on it being here and I hope he takes it the right way and it makes him a better player next year for it.”

Have you talked to the doctors about QB Jimmy Garoppolo and if the plan has changed at all? And then my question is OL Tom Compton, you opened the window for him. Is there a chance that he plays on Sunday?

“Yes. There is a chance Tom plays because he’s been let out of the protocol. So, hopefully that’ll work out, especially being low on O-Linemen, too. I would love to get Tom back. I haven’t talked to the doctors about Jimmy, but that means it hasn’t changed. I’ll rule him out. I’ll tell you guys this. If something changes, please allow me to change my mind, but I don’t plan on Jimmy playing this week.”

Eric Branch asked that question that kind of led off his more rambling question about McGlinchey. He asked if you guys have decided whether to pick up the fifth-year option on McGlinchey?

“So, you’re okay with asking that one, but not the who’s our emergency kicker?”


“All right. We haven’t talked about it, which is probably a big tweet thing, but McGlinchey is going to be here. So, without me ever thinking of that, no, we haven’t talked about it, but don’t worry, Mike, you’ll be all right, man. So, obviously, I’ve got to talk to [general manager] John [Lynch], talk to [CEO] Jed [York], but I didn’t even realize that was up next year, which means I feel pretty good about McGlinchey.”