Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – February 1, 2024

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center


Opening comments:

“Injuries for today: [TE] George Kittle, toe, won’t practice, [CB] Ambry Thomas, ankle will be limited, [LB] Oren Burks with his shoulder will be limited.”


With George’s toe is that a turf toe or is it a bruise? Any concern with that?

“No, it’s just a toe.”


When you have a few, not too many, but key players who played in the last Super Bowl against Kansas City, I’m just wondering how do you think that experience shaped them? Some of them have become your great leaders. How did it shape you?

“I think all those guys for the most part were young guys and it was their first one. I think always when you go your first time you experience a lot of stuff, but I think when you go your second time, all that stuff you experienced, it’s about one thing. It’s about what happens in those three hours. I think it’s real cool for those guys who have gone to be able to talk to players who it’s their first time kind of help them not get caught up in stuff. Especially guys who are rookies and guys like [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and things like that. So, having experience always helps.”


While looking at CB Charvarius Ward in Kansas City and thinking about bringing him here, how do you think he’s grown as a player from then to now?

“We ask him to do a little bit more just with the coverages, just the way their scheme was. Not more, different things. He was primarily always bump back then and played a lot of two-shell defense. We mix it up a little with off in our three deep and the bump when we’re doing man and stuff. So we had to see him do some things here that he hadn’t done before. His game’s grown. He really couldn’t do anything ask him to do.”


After the game, DL Nick Bosa talked about how this was the perfect matchup, meaning the Chiefs are on top of the football world and have been with Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. How do you view the challenge in front of you guys from just the standpoint of you’re facing a team with a quarterback and a coach that have won multiple Super Bowls?

“I think it’s not a coincidence why they have. I think the quarterback is as hard to beat as anyone who’s ever played the game. The things he can do from a talent standpoint and then you pair that up with his scheme with Andy, how Andy runs a team with Mahomes’ experience now. That’s why no matter what type of game it is, whether it’s low scoring, high scoring, whether they’re struggling or not, they always have a chance. If they can keep it close, he is really tough to stop. When you can always have a chance and you’ve also got a really good defense, you’ve got a great coaching staff, a great head coach that’s usually a very good formula to win most games.”


Nick has been giving those Saturday speeches or talks to with the team for a couple years now. Did you kind of pick him for that? What kind of led to that happening?

“I always pick someone differently every day to break down the team. I always just try to surprise someone and do it pretty randomly. It kind of keeps everyone on their toes a little bit. I did it randomly for the first time with Nick some Saturday and he did a good job and we won. So I think I did it the next Saturday. He did a little bit better job when then we won. I think it was towards the end of the year. Then we just started with that the following year and it’s kind of just since then it’s become our tradition. Nick’s gotten really good at it. I remember he has always been good at it. But it’s funny how guys who are so confident in everything they do, they’re just not used to always speaking in front of groups. He used to tell me that was the most nervous he’d be throughout the whole week. He’d start getting nervous about it on Wednesdays. I think earlier this year he thanked me. He was like, ‘Hey, thanks for doing that by the way. I’ve gotten better at it. I’m not as nervous anymore.’ He is really good at it. Everything he says he thinks through. Nick doesn’t waste words because he doesn’t use many of them.”


When you were considering drafting him, he’s obviously not a man of a lot of words, what was his personality like then and has it evolved over the year?

“You get to hear all the reports and everything and all the work that our personnel department does for years. But, the only time you really get to know someone is when you get to hang out with them. We had him in for dinner so I got to sit in a dinner with him. People can trick you all the time and things like that. But what was so cool about Nick was there was no tricking. Just like I think how he talks to you guys, how he always is, Nick is himself. He is very true to what he says. He doesn’t just make stuff up. If he doesn’t have something to say, he is not going to say it. So he was the guy that was very easy to connect to with the dinner just because you could tell how he was acting is who he was. I really enjoyed him from the beginning. He’s always been that guy that we met on the first day and can’t say enough good things about Nick.“


Your team plays really hard all three phases of the game through your tenure here. When you watched that film against Detroit and you watched that second quarter halfback toss to Detroit Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs, what did you think of the pursuit effort of your defensive lineman on that play? Is that in line with your culture here?

“No, not at all. That’s kind of what I was referring to on I think our conference call on Monday. I know it looked bad on the clip that you guys have and stuff. No, it’s not our culture. We don’t want to have one play like that. I think we had about two to three in that game, which is too much for us. We don’t want to ever have one. But it wasn’t just the D-Line. There were a few backside people who weren’t going and they were expecting someone else to make the tackle. Whenever you’re expecting someone else to make the tackle bad things happen. “


Does that surprise you? Coming out of the Bye for example, you guys had lots of energy, you were sharp on defense. Did you expect that same type of play coming out of the rest that you got before the playoffs started?

“Yeah and I think we did. I just understand how social media works and I understand when a clip looks bad and it goes around, that’s everything. But that was a few bad clips in the game, which I bet you I can go find those in a lot of games. I don’t question at all our lack of effort and how hard we work and how hard we go and run to the ball always. Were we 100-percent? No. Especially on a couple big runs that really looked really bad. That’s on a few plays which aren’t acceptable. I’m not sitting here acting like that was the whole reason. That’s why they got a few extra yards on those two plays. That game was more about how we played run defense, just not all 11 guys running on every single play.”


After 2018 you had two bad seasons. How was 49ers CEO Jed York with you and general manager John Lynch, coming out of that year and into 2019 before you got it rolling?

“He was awesome. It’s exactly how he was when we sat down for the interview. You never want to have those records, but we also were realistic before we started. We were trying to build it to have a legit shot the fourth year was kind of our goal and stuff. It happened the third year, which was great. But after those first two seasons, we started the first season out really rough, but we ended great. The second season was really tough, especially losing our quarterback for the whole year. But we did some things we were proud of towards the end. Even though we were real disappointed with our record that year, it did lead to getting Bosa. So that was a good thing. He was always positive. I think the hardest year was the COVID year, just because we felt we had built our team. We had a tough Super Bowl loss and we weren’t sure if we were going to play until about that early July. Then I felt like we went right from the Super Bowl to the season. That was the toughest year just because it wasn’t like what we expected.”


Did you ever feel like on the hot seat going into 2019 or did he make it clear you were good?

“We never had the discussion. But as a coach you know you’re always on the hot seat. But no, there was no difference in our relationship or anything going into year three as there was the day I was hired.”


What makes the Chiefs’ run game tough to stop?

“They’ve got a good runner. He runs hard. He is always the same. He is one of the more consistent players in this league. Every single run, first run to the last run, to whenever you turn on the clip, cold weather, on the road, at home. He runs extremely hard. He’s our type of runner that we like. I’d say that’s the best thing. They’ve got some good blockers. They’ve got a scheme they mix up. When you’re real scary in the pass game too, that always helps the run game.”


What was so difficult about the COVID year for you? Was there anything that you were able to take away from that that you think has made you a better coach or made your team better or closer?

“The hardest thing with the COVID year was I think you didn’t get a chance to finish the year before a little bit. There was no offseason. There was no meetings. The first time we were reviewing the Super Bowl together was training camp. So, I thought that was a little bit just different. Sitting there in July as a coach, it’s a little bit easier not knowing whether you’re going to play or not because I don’t have the biggest workout routine to get ready for a coaching season. I think that’s harder for the players just being in limbo and having the COVID situation and not really knowing you’re playing until then. Then trying to get the guys ready and being in the stadium where there were no people was just weird. Then having to overcome the injuries is what made it the toughest. So I don’t know, COVID was miserable.”


How did that year compare to coming up short then the following two years in the NFC Championship?

“It was just totally different because we got kicked out of our state. We got kicked out of here. We had to go live in a hotel where COVID didn’t seem as big of a deal because outside of our windows, the whole state was open. We got to look at a Dave and Buster’s, a movie theater and everyone was out. But we got kicked out of here because we couldn’t practice football outside. Then we were in NFL rules where we’re in a hotel for a month where we’re not allowed to see each other. So we couldn’t have meals together. We couldn’t have meetings together. We couldn’t sit in the lobby together. So it was like nice jail cells and we got let out for recess, which was practice. Then we had to go right back or you’d get fined. So it was something we hope we never go back to.”


How do you view how productive your run game has been in the playoffs? How essential is that?

“I think it’s hard to win consistently in this league if you can’t run the ball. No matter how good of a passing game you have, no matter how good of a defense, it doesn’t matter. You can do it here and there and always pull it off. But the most consistent way to win is to be balanced and to put pressure on everybody. We love being able to stick with the run game so you make people defend it. Then people defend it everything gets a little bit easier. If people can stop your run game without committing to it, everything’s a lot harder.”


What did you learn from the last Super Bowl experience in terms of practice, like what you need to get done this week versus what you can accomplish once you’re in Vegas?

“I was real happy with our preparation last time. I had been to a Super Bowl before as a coach, just four years before that. I think I went to six just as a family member growing up. Just always hearing about it and watching it. I’ve been paying attention to stuff my whole life. I’m glad that the Super Bowls we’re in that we have a week before we go. I know John Lynch, they had to go like that Monday after they won the NFC Championship in Philly. So I couldn’t imagine that. I always was told, then we did that way in Atlanta. We’ve done that here. You try to get as much in this first week as possible. When you get out there, we go through it again. But it is different. Our Monday’s totally different with the media deal. Our routine’s off because you’ve got to do these press conferences every day. So you get about an hour off from all your normal times. So when you usually do red zone and stuff, you’re two hours behind. A little more tired. All that stuff adds up. If you put stuff off to that week and think it’s going to be a normal week you’re going to get to that Thursday or Friday and not quite feel as comfortable.”


So you’ll have a full game plan installed this week?



RB Christian McCaffrey’s first game with your team was against the Chiefs last season. How have you seen him evolve from that game to this point and your offense evolved from then to now?

“He knows the guys’ names. He knows the runs that we’re calling instead of just guys pointing him to the direction. That was amazing. We didn’t plan on playing him at all. I think he got here on a Friday afternoon. Then I told John no way. But then when I talked to him on the phone and the way he was talking to me, I was like we better send this guy a playbook. He might be playing because he’s adamant that he can do it. Then when we played him, he was definitely right. So that was a sign of what we had. He was amazing in that game. He has been the same dude ever since.”