Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – December 6, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“All right, the injuries for today: [TE] Ross Dwelley, ankle, won’t practice, [DL Arik] Armstead, foot and knee, won’t practice, [OL Spencer] Burford, knee, won’t practice, [CB Darrell] Luter [Jr.] hamstring, won’t practice, [RB] Elijah Mitchell, knee, won’t practice, [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III], rib, limited.”
You mentioned the other day that you would get more information on Armstead. What is kind of the prognosis now?
“It’s not ACL, MCL, nothing I would be able to remember to tell you guys. I’d be surprised if he’s ready this week. We still haven’t ruled him out yet, but it might be a week or two.”
What happened to Elijah Mitchell?
“His knee was sore, still sore. But nothing big right now. Just still sore from the game.”
Just to clarify, it doesn’t look like it’s a long-term injury for Arik Armstead?
“I hope not. I can’t rule him out for this week, but it’s the fact that I’m saying already that I’d be surprised if he played this week, just got to see how long it lasts.”
What have you seen out of DL Javon Kinlaw these last few weeks?
“It really started about, I want to say almost right when we got back from our Bye Week, since then Kinlaw’s game has gone up each week. I think it gets better and better each week. He’s finally strung enough practice together and being healthy this season that I think he’s really starting to get into true, he is in football shape but he is starting to play enough to where he improves every time he plays now. Same with the practice field. I think he’s really helped us out and he’s taken some big steps going forward.”
Even before all the sideline stuff with LB Dre Greenlaw last game, he did pick up the personal foul for the way he tackled. He has eight unnecessary roughness in the last three years. DL Nick Bosa called him the enforcer of this team. Obviously there’s a physical tone he sets. How important do you think that is and how close to the line do you worry about a player like that?
“I think it’s extremely important and I think Dre’s as good at it as anyone I’ve been around. I think Dre is our enforcer. He is our most physical hitter. We’ve got a lot of guys who hit, but I think he shows up more than others, which when his own teammates say that, I think that’s the respect they give him. I think Dre’s unbelievable at it. How physical he plays and how hard he goes. The fact that it always looks close, but I know how hard Dre is not a dirty player at all. He plays one way. That’s why he was so frustrated because he is trying so hard not to break the rules in his mind. He wasn’t completely slamming a guy. His guy’s three yards inbound and he’s trying as hardest to get him down. Everything he does is physical. And if you can see at the end, he tried to let up at the last second. It happened to be a lighter player and Dre’s pretty strong. Now, he should have been penalized for that, you can’t slam a guy. I just know the person. I know how hard and conscientious he is. The one time he got ejected for the helmet to helmet on [Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin] Herbert and he should have, but that was a cutback and him trying to go right to the change and it was just an unfortunate deal. But I’ve seen some physical guys in this league who do lean towards the aggressive side, not in a good way. I can’t tell you guys how hard Dre tries to not get a penalty. When he does, it’s usually right there on the line. When you’re a physical player like him, that to me jumps off the screen to not just players in the league but to the fans and anyone. They look for it and it is a fine line, but his intent is exactly what you want in a football player.”
Do you excuse him for the stuff afterwards because he was touched by Philadelphia Eagles Chief Security Officer Dom DiSandro or is that something you still say you can’t do that and react that way?
“Oh, we show all that stuff. I mean, there was a guy we showed on Thanksgiving. They tried to flip our player at the end of the field goal. They flipped Kinlaw on his head. They got a personal foul. [DL] Chase Young pointed at someone smiling. I’m showing it all in the view and we’re all just laughing. It’s not a big deal. The other player’s laughing at him. Then the next day on Friday, same thing happened in the Jets game. They tried to flip a player, Jets versus Miami and they got in a scuffle, penalties threw. One of the players went to point at a guy and someone bumped his arm and it hit a ref in the face and he got ejected. And so I go back and I show Chase why his point is a big deal. His intent is fine, you’re smiling, you’re laughing, you don’t get how close this stuff is that you accidentally hit someone in the face and you’re out. I was shocked. I stick up for Dre that he was put in a situation from somebody that didn’t have to do with the game. That’s what bothered me. When I look at him, I still don’t think he punched him in the face, but whatever that was, it’s not allowed. You can’t give anyone a doubt, especially in a physical game like that, what happened last year, I know how hard the NFL and the refs are going to make sure it doesn’t get carried away. So, that’s stuff we talk about all the time. If you get a penalty, you’re wrong and we’ve got to work our way to always do that in every aspect and that’s what we do. I just thought it was unfortunate he got ejected for that. I had nothing wrong with the penalties. I just was surprised he got ejected for what he did and to someone who wasn’t involved in the game.”
Do you feel like he has developed like a reputation unfairly and doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in those 50/50 moments?
“Well, I think it goes back to what I was initially saying about him. When you have someone who plays the way he does, that’s what people are looking for because it’s always close. But, that’s why every time he hits someone clean and stuff, you usually see sidelines pointing out what he did wrong and stuff because he’s just a physical player and that’s why he’s so good. But, it’s not something like, we have a big problem here with 15-yard penalties. There’s nothing where I ever said to anyone, ‘well, it was well learned.’ That’s not how we roll at all. Our players know how I am, how we are. I can’t tell you how much Dre’s apologizing to me after the game. It’s not him giving me excuses. It’s him saying, ‘Kyle, I’m sorry I let you down.’ I get what happened and it can’t happen. That’s what we coach. But, that’s why I love dealing with the guy.”
What would you do if Director of Team Security Mike Anderson or someone pushed a player on another team in that situation?
“I also don’t think he pushed the guy that bad. So, I’m not trying to build that up either. I think that stuff happens all the time and people break it up, there’s no penalties and you go back and you move on with your life and you get it going. Dre just got ejected. Then when they look at why, and I guess then that guy should too. But that’s why I don’t want that guy made an example out of, and I just think we should have kept it moving personally.”
Could it be a strategy if there’s a guy like Dre Greenlaw who people know is on that line, could that be a strategy for other teams to use a nonplayer or a coach to try to get him kicked out of a game?
“Wait until you see what we do this week (laughter). Yeah, it could be. That’s why they probably did that, so it won’t be, it can’t be. That’s why they probably did make a deal out of that because no, that can’t be a strategy and so they’ll put an end into that, which I think they already have. But, that’s what players do too. You know the guys who lose their cool and the guys to mess with so you can get a free 15 and that’s how the whole league works.”
Was the coaching point for Dre in that situation with Dom just to walk away?
“Yeah, get away. That’s easier said than done, but that doesn’t matter. The whole thing is you got a penalty and you got a penalty before that, which I get he wants to explain that to me too and I can look at it and see what he’s saying. I know when someone gets slammed and how it is and he does that the last second. He’s a pretty strong guy and they should call that. But, I also know when you get a penalty, you’re at fault. If Chase the week before would’ve got ejected because he was pointing, smiling with a guy in Seattle that it was all love with, he probably knew and his hand got bumped and he hit a ref and got ejected, that’s his fault too. It’s the heat of battle. No one’s trying to screw each other. Those guys are trying to get it right and it’s intense and that’s why we just want to play football and football’s a physical game. But, when that whistle’s done, the football play is over so let’s stop doing anything else.”
The League sent a memo reminding coaches what sideline behavior’s allowed and have they assured you that Dre’s not facing suspension or anything?
“I’m not sure. I haven’t checked my email yet and I never have in my life, but people are bringing me important ones and I haven’t got that yet. So maybe today, but no one’s brought to me yet.”
He’s out of the clear of any suspension?
“I don’t know. I would assume so, but yeah, I don’t know yet.”
You’ll be pleased to know your team is at the top of a lot of NFL power rankings.
Congrats. But it is similar to when you guys whipped the Cowboys and everyone’s got you in the Super Bowl and I know general manager John Lynch and some players have alluded to the fact that it’s just human nature to kind of feel like we’re really good, and you are. But, maybe that was at least a little part of the three-game losing streak. Do you have to address that or do you plan to address that?
“Yeah, I talked to the guys. I mean, I talk to them always. So, I think people know from that experience how that felt and I don’t think that’s why we played bad, but I don’t think it helped us. As [running backs coach Robert Turner Jr.] Bobby T. and my dad [former NFL coach Mike Shanahan] say, that’s why people sell papers. I say that’s why people try to get clicks. But, everything’s going to be extreme. I mean, you’re going to be either really, really good or really, really bad and that’s just how it works and that’s what’s great about our league, but that has nothing to do with us. And I mean that game, I know the end result looked really good, but you guys saw it could go any way. I mean, they brought it to one score there in the third quarter after Dre got kicked out. We could have easily been down 21 to zero after the first quarter. There’s a very fine line there between two to five plays and it ends up looking like the game got out of hand. But, it’s very similar to the Thursday night game versus Seattle. That was a close game. Luckily our defense stayed strong in there in that third quarter rally, but that was right there and just couple plays and then it doesn’t look close, but they’re always close.”
WR Deebo Samuel was the first receiver since former 49ers WR Jerry Rice for this organization to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week three times. How special is he to the 49ers?
“Deebo’s awesome. I mean, as you guys know, he’s a special guy when he gets that ball in his hands. And him and Jerry are probably wired a little bit differently how they play the game, but they both played at high level and really helped the Niners out a lot.”
On the Deebo tunnel screen, when I watched it again I saw that RB Christian McCaffrey really sold the halfback toss and I don’t think Deebo scores without that play fake on the backside. Did you show that to the team this week and is that your guys’ culture or is that all CMC?
“That’s our culture, but when we point that all out and when someone doesn’t do it, we point that out also. So, guys have pressure on each other to not let the other guy down. But, I will say Christian is the best player I’ve ever been around without the ball in his hand. Just the little things he does that are so obsessive. Like, yeah, everybody can carry out fakes, but he goes to the extreme and it’s unbelievable.”
This will be your 15th game against Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll since you’ve been here. Does game planning get easier or harder with the more familiarity you have with an opponent?
“I mean, they’ve changed coordinators a number of times. I think easier would be the wrong word. I think we both understand how our teams are going to be. So, you don’t have to overcomplicate things too much, which I guess when you don’t overcomplicate things it makes it easier, but it’s not as in either of us are easy to go against. We just, I know what we’re going to get from them and I think they know what they’re going to get from us and that’s why it’s going to be a battle.”
What can S Logan Ryan add?
“Just losing the safeties that we have this year and knowing that there’s a guy out there like Logan who I don’t know personally, but played against him a bunch. Whether it was at corner, nickel or safety, you could just always tell he was a very hard guy to schematically be a very aware player, very similar to how [S Tashaun Gipson Sr.] Gip was before we got him and things like that. So, when you do lose a lot of guys, you’d love to have an option to bring in a guy who’s played some football and doesn’t have to learn everything for the first time. He’s been around enough to understand it and I was glad we were able to get him in here.”
I know you love grinding punter tape, but with P Mitch Wishnowsky, how much of an impact is he making on this team, especially given the limited opportunities that he’s getting?
“Mitch is huge. I mean, I don’t know the stats, you guys check them out because they’re awesome, but how many punts he has inside the five or 10 compared to the next guy. He’s been so automatic with that, how hard his punts are to catch the way he can knuckle it and things like that. He’s been a stud this year. It’s been really good.”
In the first Seattle game, Pete, instead of going with his typical five man surface, gave a lot of four man looks up front. Were you surprised by that? And what’s behind a wrinkle like that?
“No, they started doing that since like Week 2. I think it had to do more with their personnel. They’ve got a lot of depth, they’ve got a number of corners, they’ve got a number of safeties. It’s just how you want to deploy them. If you have five bigs on the field, then you’re going to have one less corner. You’re going to have an extra safety there. So, you’d have to ask him, but I think they’re trying to get their best players out there and they mix it up a bunch, but it’s kind of who their team has become this year.”
As a coordinator or head coach, does this have the potential to be the best offense you’ve ever coached?
“I mean, it always has the potential. I know the best one was the one I was with in Atlanta in 2016, but we’re doing pretty good like that team too, so it’s got potential. I’ll let you decide.”
WR Jauan Jennings, the last couple games has had two pretty big plays he’s really had to fight for. What is it about his personality and work ethic that makes him so reliable in that situation?
“Jauan, he’s one of a kind, as you guys probably know just talking to him. Just watch him on run plays. He does those run plays like he does that third-and-seven when there’s three guys trying to tackle him. I mean, Jauan’s on another level of confidence, energy. The only person who holds Jauan back is us. Jauan is ready to take over at all times is his mindset. And that’s why when we come to him, whether it’s every few games or a bunch in one game he always seems like he’s going to rise to the occasion and make one of the most important plays in the game.”