Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – December 4, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“All right guys, injuries from the game. [TE] Ross Dwelley had a high ankle sprain, so he is going to miss a few weeks. [DL] Arik Armstead had his foot and also some knee issues, so we’re still gathering more information. He came in with that this morning, so we’ll have more for that probably for you guys for Wednesday. [OL] Spencer Burford also had a knee. It was his other one. We’ll see how he responds this week. He still has a chance to go. [CB] Darrell Luter [Jr.], hamstring. He’ll likely miss this week. Just guys who missed the game, [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III] is still continuing to be day-to-day when he comes back.”
Is there any update or any conversation about what happened on the Eagles’ sideline today? A day later after sleeping on it have your thoughts on it changed at all?
“No, I haven’t heard anything. I mean, my thoughts are pretty much the same as yesterday. It was hard to accept [LB] Dre [Greenlaw] getting kicked out of that game for something that didn’t involve someone that had to do with that game. But, I definitely don’t have any hard feelings towards [Philadelphia Eagles Security Chief] Dom [DiSandro] or anything like that. I don’t want anyone to go too hard on him. I think he just got caught in a weird situation and an emotional situation. So, no hard feelings towards him. I know a lot of people who know him and speak very highly of him. I just couldn’t believe we lost our player because of it.”
Did you have an opportunity to talk to Dre one-on-one about it and just kind of get his perspective?
“Yeah, I talked to him before he left the field very quickly, and then I talked to him a little bit after the game. I heard it all and then saw it all and it looked like he told me.”
You mentioned Spencer Burford. When the week started it looked like OL Jon Feliciano might start at right guard, but obviously Burford started and played the whole game. How do you think he did and did he look good in practice leading up to the game?
“Yeah, he did. He had a real good week of practice. We wanted to see how healthy he was during the week, and once we put all three of those days together we felt real good about his tape. We weren’t by any means going in and planning to keep Jon out. We still planned on him playing some. We were just going to take it series by series. Spencer held his own, did a good job. We didn’t see any setbacks from his knee injury from the previous weeks so we just left it that way and thought he had a good game.”
When you look at the results of your games against Pittsburgh, Dallas, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, teams that presented serious challenges that were all one-sided for you in your favor, what can you say about your team’s ability to be prepared and get after a big game?
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys with experience. First of all, I think we’ve got a bunch of people who have been in a ton of big games. The way they carry themselves in the offseason or in OTAs and in training camp, to just week-in and week-out, how our practices are. We’ve got a real good group of guys who football is very important to. So they’re not guys that we’ve got to spend a lot of time motivating and asking them to do their job. They’re guys who completely understand their situation, understand what their job is and understand the magnitude of each week. I think a lot of that comes from just the experience we’ve had over the last few years. I think people who come in here from new places or even rookies get that vibe pretty fast from the group.”
Four straight wins since the Bye week. Do you think the Bye was kind of a turning point for your team to have a reset or was it more about getting guys back healthy?
“I mean, both. I think that was the reset. I think we were just a little worn down, but that happens in other times and you don’t have a Bye week to bail you out so you’ve got to find other ways to do it. But at that point, coinciding with our three losses in a row, it felt the most worn down we had been the entire year at that time and going forward. So it came at a real good time to get our freshness back and I think that allowed us to have some good practices and get back to playing some better ball. We’ve been able to string that together for about four games straight now and the plan is to keep it continuing.”
How much of the defense’s success starts with stopping the run? You guys have been very good at that. I think among the league leaders. Similarly on offense, a lot of attention to QB Brock Purdy and the passing game, but the running game’s been productive. How much does your success sort of hinge on that?
“I think it’s huge for the defense, for the offense, for the whole team. I just think this game’s too hard for anybody to win consistently one dimensional. When you can take away people’s run game, it puts a lot of pressure on not just the quarterback, but the O-Line and for a whole team. That’s how we feel when our run game is taken away too. It makes everyone’s job a lot harder. When you can do that at a high rate other things get a little bit easier too.”
Given Ross Dwelley’s injury, are you guys in the mix at all for TE Zach Ertz who’s a free agent right now?
“I know [general manager] John [Lynch] looks into all that stuff. I haven’t heard anything about it now, so I wouldn’t think so at this time. But, I have a lot of respect for him as a player. I’ve always been a fan. But right now, at least from my standpoint, we’re good with our group, but we have injuries and things change so we’ll look into all options as always.”
DL Nick Bosa said yesterday he felt like this is the most confident he’s ever been in the offense. Do you feel like this is the most balanced team you’ve had since you’ve been here? lf so, do you believe that has changed your aggressiveness or maybe the way you script games out in your head as they’re going along?
“Yeah, I think that started last year. I think you guys could see once we got on that roll, the way we went into the Playoffs last year, the way we did in the Playoffs too that things were a little bit different, getting [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] and how well Brock played and just our receivers, our O-Line, our tight ends, how long they’ve played together. I think we all felt that last year. That’s why we were excited to get Brock back and get him healthy in the offseason. I feel like it started out that way too earlier in this year. I just feel we’ve got a special group of guys who continue to work hard and hold each other accountable and everything. I think they’ve been doing a hell of a job for a little bit now.”
From your perspective, how can that maybe help the defense just knowing that maybe they don’t have to carry the freight as much as they have in in recent seasons?
“I mean, you’d have to ask them personally. I think the whole point is about scoring more points than the other team. I think we’ve always done that decent, but I think that’s also because of how dominant our defense has been and we’ve relied on our pretty dominating running game and not turning it over for a while to kind of lead us to a Super Bowl and a couple Championships, or at least one of them. I mean the Championship games. But I think as the defense sees us be a little bit more explosive and score a little bit more points and I feel always when guys see that and see us out there having fun, it gives them a little bit more confidence that they can have setbacks and stuff and they feel they’ve got another side of the ball that can catch up if they aren’t perfect.”
Going back, you said you heard from some people about Dom. Were those just kind of unsolicited texts that you got from people around the league?
“No, I mean, guys on our staff who’ve been in Philly. We have coaches and players who have played there and coached there. I don’t know him personally, but I just don’t think it was that big of a deal. Just sometimes you’re in areas you shouldn’t be in and you get close to a player. I just was upset our player got suspended over someone that happened to be kicked out of a big game. But I don’t think there’s nothing that he did extraordinarily bad. It’s just guys shouldn’t be around that area and that’s something that I don’t think was totally fair to our player. It wasn’t anything personal against him. Stuff happens. I’m sure he regrets that. But I hear he does a hell of a job for that organization and people speak very highly of him as a dude.”
On the first six plays of the game it took a while before you guys could get the ball into the hands of Christian. I would assume that wasn’t the plan to just have him not have the ball through first two series. What was going on there and what was the philosophical approach to open the game the way you guys did?
“It’s so funny how you guys look at it. There’s no philosophical approach to how you’re going to open up a second-and-long and third-and-long. So, you balance stuff out pretty well, or you try to. Sometimes you come out running, sometimes you come out throwing, you never come out and say, ‘Hey, first four balls are going to this guy, next three are going to this guy.’ We had that first play was planned, usually in two shell. B.A. [WR Brandon Aiyuk] crosses face, he gets the ball, but it got tipped. If he doesn’t, then it would’ve gone to [WR] Deebo [Samuel]. Next play could have gone to any four of them. We ended up not going to [TE] George [Kittle] over the ball and I think we took a sack. And then you have third-and-long. I’m not going to hand it off too much on third-and-long. I think we did throw a pass to Christian there on third-and-long. It was incomplete. So that was the third play of the game went to him. The next time up, we had Christian on a bubble. We didn’t throw it so we handed off to Deebo. It’s an RPO, so you’ve got to read what the linebacker does, so it could go to either of them. We lost five yards on it which put you into second-and-15 so didn’t really want to call a run play there next on second-and-15. So you get off your script and you go to a pass to try to get back to a manageable third. I think, I want to say we had a false start and then you get to a third-and-long and I think Brock threw it out of bounds. So, those are your six plays to start. That’s what happens when you get in a second-and-long with a penalty or a negative run, and then you get in a third-and-long. That’s what happens sometimes in the second half of games and how you can get away from the run because you call a pass on first down and you get a holding call or a negative play. Very rarely, then if you don’t run it on second-and-15 or second-and-20, odds are you’re going to go three-and-out with three passes because the odds are you’re throwing it on third-and-long. That’s just how games play out sometimes. But, I don’t think anyone ever has a plan to, ‘Hey, let’s just not involve Christian McCaffrey.’ That’s what six plays say without him touching it, but it’s not all the case.”