Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 28, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening Comments:

“Injuries for today, [QB Jimmy] Garoppolo won’t practice, foot.  [WR] Deebo [Samuel], ankle/knee, no practice. [DL] Kevin Givens, knee, no practice. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, knee, no practice. [P Mitch] Wishnowsky is sick, no practice. [CB] Ambry [Thomas], ankle, limited. [Kerry] Hyder [Jr.], ankle, limited. [RB] Jordan Mason, hamstring, limited. [RB] Christian McCaffrey, knee, limited. [DL] Arik Armstead, foot/ankle, limited. [QB] Brock Purdy is full. Go ahead.”

Did something flare up with Javon?

“No, that was just the plan all along. We we’re going to have him go full tomorrow.”

Do you expect Deebo to practice tomorrow?

“I think he has a chance to practice tomorrow, it depends how today’s workout goes.”

The Raiders just announced that Las Vegas Raiders QB Jarrett Stidham will be their quarterback to face you guys, you’re familiar with him from the Senior Bowl, so what can you expect?

“I know he is a talented thrower. We’ve seen him play before, not just at the Senior Bowl, but I think we played him a couple years ago, but he can make every throw similar to [Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek] Carr in that way, but he hasn’t been out there a lot, so hopefully we’ll confuse him. Make it tough for him.”

This move would suggest they’re not totally invested in winning this game. Do you have to talk to the guys about not laying down because it appears like they’re kind of laying down?

“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it doesn’t matter to me. We knew there was a possibility just looking into it, we started on Monday, but no, I don’t worry about that with our guys. Our guys know one way to play and I expect to see them that way.”

Do you have any recollections of Stidham from Mobile? I know that you had four quarterbacks I think and I forget where he ranked in that group, but what do you remember from him?

“I remember we really liked how he threw. I liked him as a guy just working with him. Never enjoyed going to Mobile that time of year, it’s just not always a good feeling. It means you didn’t do very well and you really want a break and you don’t get it, but I do remember enjoying him. I know he was a talented player that we all believed was going to get drafted and I was not surprised that New England took him.”

We all know how disruptive DL Nick Bosa can be, but when you look at the way teams have to prepare for him with having to double him and when he goes on opposite sides, how disruptive is he when you’re trying to plan for what he does on every play?

“Extremely disruptive, because it’s every play. It’s not just pass plays, it’s not just third down, it’s run plays, it’s every situation. He’s always got a chance to make a play and he’s gotten really good at moving around and I think he’s just as good of a rusher wherever he goes, which makes it really hard for offenses to set a plan when you don’t know where he is going to be.”

How impressive is to have QB Brock Purdy do what he’s doing in only three NFL starts, it’s pretty much unprecedented?

“Yeah, he’s been great. It’s been very similar to how he’s been in practice. He’s been pretty consistent since he’s gotten here, but you never know until guys get in these games, which they’re a lot harder this time of year too than early on. And he’s been the same way he is been in practice and I think that’s why right when he got in versus Miami you could hear the players having confidence in him and it’s only gotten stronger because this is the only way they’ve seen him.”

How’s DL Kevin Givens come along? Would you expect him to be ready for the playoffs?

“Yes. Yeah, he’s on schedule for that.”

When you were in Houston you had overlap with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as a player and you were on the staff as coach. I don’t know how much interaction you had, but what did you remember about him and did you see things even then that like, man, this guy one day could be a hell of a coach?

“Yeah, that’s why I was most excited about when I got here is I remember [New York Jets head coach Robert] Saleh telling me that DeMeco was somewhat interested in doing the QC route and I was so excited because I’ve known him from Houston. He was our first pick in the second round, we took [former NFL DE] Mario [Williams] with the first pick in the draft and we took DeMeco with the first pick in the second round. He ended up being rookie of the year that year. I think he was the first guy in a number of years to get a starting Pro Bowl at mike linebacker because it had gone to [HOF LB] Ray Lewis for so long. They called him Mufasa right away because he was like the wise lion and we weren’t a great team and he came in and ran that defense from day one as a rookie and that always stuck out to me huge. He was there the whole four years I was there then I got to play against him a lot when he was in Philly and I was in Washington, so we’ve always kept in touch that way and I know he made some money as a player, so I never knew if we could get him out of Houston and have him come be here quality control here in California, but he really was passionate about coaching and loved football and once he decided to do that, it was about halfway through the year that we realized he wasn’t going to be at quality control very long.”

You said he was somewhat interested when Saleh told you, how’d you push him into completely?

“I think he was very interested, but it’s always when you have a wife and you have kids and you’re living in a nice house and making a decent living and I’m sure everything’s stressful, but not quite to what you’re about to get into. You have to make sure that the wife understands, the kids, things like that. It’s not like you’re making a lot of money when you go to that position too and you have to move children and all that. It’s a lot. [Former NFL OL] Joe Thomas said it earlier this year, like coaching’s not just about having a passion for coaching, it’s about are you willing to change your lifestyle? And it is a lifestyle change, it’s a little different and you don’t realize that till you totally get into it, but it happens and that’s why you have to make sure the family’s on board and they were and they’ve been supportive, big-time, and DeMeco has been good right away and just keeps getting better.”

What’s the next phase for Jimmy Garoppolo now that the cast is off and do you guys now have a better sense of when he could return to the field?

“No, nothing’s changed with that. He just got the hard cast off, so he’s not able to move around and do stuff yet, so they’re still in the training room processes, not out on the field or anything, so not much has changed.”

You mentioned the record teams have the week after playing you guys, did someone bring that to your attention?

“Yeah, [special teams coordinator Brian] Schneider told me a couple months ago, so he keeps telling me every Monday. He checks. He pointed it out to me how cool it was when it was like 0-6 or something, but then I started paying attention once he showed me. It’s been pretty cool.”

With the division clinched and a playoff spot already clinched, when does the focus turn to just making sure everybody stays healthy for the playoffs rather than kind of maybe chasing that second seed?

“We’re trying to make sure everyone stays healthy for the playoffs now in terms of guys who aren’t healthy. And then we feel it’s a risk. We can be very smart with that. It’s not worth risking that when you know you’re in the playoffs, but the goal isn’t just being healthy in the playoffs, it’s we think we’re a really good team and we want to make sure that continues and we also think there’s room to get better and if anything happens, we want to make sure we’re better, not worse. It’s really hard just to put people on hold in football and expect you’ll be the same team or definitely expect you’ll be better, so every week we’re just trying to keep, whether it’s practice field, whether it’s the game, there are opportunities to get better and that’s how we look at it and it’s great that there’s an opportunity to get the two seed. We’ll see what it is after this week. Hopefully we can win but then we’ll see what the situation is the next week, but we’re not going to risk guys who we think are putting a lot of risk to how their bodies are at now, but I also think it’s a big risk to have guys who have been going and playing football at a high level just to tell them don’t play for three weeks and then make sure you play at that high level for three and a half hours when everything’s on the line, so we’re just balancing that out and we’ll see how it continues.”

Do you have people on your staff who do advanced scouting of teams you might face in the first round of the playoffs?

“Our personnel department always goes a week before, so when we come in on Monday they can tell us any of the different stuff that happened live, like injuries and things like that that we might not be able to see on TV, but no, no one is out scouting playoff teams. It’s not like basketball, because things will change here in these two weeks and who knows who we’re going to play and it’ll be one game and we’ll have all week to get ready for it.”

Along the lines of the question about getting the team ready for the postseason, how much do you discuss you can only suit up 48 guys for a game, so it’s not like you can rest?

“That’s also what’s comical about that question. Not to insult anybody at all, but it’s like we still need 48 guys, so who are we going to rest? And then I got 53 guys who look at me like, who do you care about the most, who are you resting? And it isn’t that way. You have to play the game, we have to suit up our guys and hope to get through it as healthy as possible.”

You’ve referenced Nick and Christian as being sort of similar in approach in that almost everything they’ve done for a long time has been geared to be here. How rare is that? You’ve coached for a while, guys on that level have geared their entire lives for what they’re doing now.

“It is rare but, I think you see that a lot in anyone at the top of their professions. You go back to the 10,000 hour rule or whatever on how to master anything. You look at the top golfers, the top tennis players, they’re all people who didn’t just start doing that in high school or anything. They’re usually guys who have been obsessed with it from a young age. That’s what makes people, to me, generationally different when you have talent with that work ethic and that environment, that passion to where it starts early. And I do notice that with Christian and Nick a lot. I think it helps the families they came from and definitely, their families were aware of it and they definitely, I think noticed they had the talent probably when they’re in the crib doing certain things that would be weirder than all of us doing.”

You mentioned when Purdy was drafted, quarterbacks coach Brian Griese and assistant quarterbacks coach Klay Kubiak kind of had that project of late-round quarterbacks. Was it like okay we’re not going to draft a quarterback probably until the fifth-round, start looking. What were the parameters of what they were looking at?

“That’s what we do every year and depending on how much we’re going to take one is how much that we all dive into it, but I didn’t believe we were going to take a quarterback. We would’ve loved to, but you’d always love to, you’d love to take one every year, but we just didn’t think we’d be able to where our roster was at and what we were trying to fill in the draft. So, I’ll spend most of my time on the areas I think we’re going and then you give them all the quarterbacks and that’s what we do every year and sometimes I’m doing it with them, sometimes I do it later, but you don’t say just the late round guys, you say every guy and then you say rank them and when we rank them it’s also where you think they’re going to go. So you start to look at things like, well yeah I think this guy’s a second-round guy, I think this guy’s a fourth-round guy, I think this guy’s a seventh-round guy based off talent, based off upside, based off where I think the league has him valued, but this fifth-round guy’s my top guy. Does that mean you’re saying take him in the top 10? No, but it just means you don’t like every quarterback and there’s usually eight or whatever and you like two of them. It goes that way, similar with running backs, there’s 30 of them, you like four of them. It doesn’t mean there’s any right or wrong, but it’s just how you see it and you give it to those guys. They see it a little bit differently but they stack it. Our scouts do the same thing and they stack it and then when that day comes, we watch all of it. They make tapes on them to kind of sell their highlights, the best things they could do. Then they show some tape, some clips on the worst things that they do and then that usually intrigues anybody, but then it intrigues me what I see there and then I based off of what I go study off of that. So yeah, we’re probably not going to take a quarterback so I’m not going to spend two months studying every single person, but now these guys whose job is to do that, they’ve spent the last two months studying everyone they put all this time into it, our scouts have put all this time into it. I put a day in listening to all of them, watching it, alright, I want to go back even though we’re probably not going to take one, I want to go back and watch more tape on these three guys and that’s kind of how a year like that works.”

With the level Nick is playing at now, do you think that there’s an even higher ceiling for him to get even better?

“Yes, definitely. He’s still young. He’s not perfect. He’s got four personal fouls this year. I told him that’s why his Madden awareness rating is a 99, not a hundred, so yeah, he could get better right there, but he’s playing the top of his game. I feel like we could sit him these next two weeks and my mind would be blown if he wasn’t the defensive MVP, so he’s been great. It’s been his goal probably since he could remember making goals and I know that was a big thing to him this year, how excited he was coming into camp healthy for one of the first times and him just saying how much more he wanted to do because he was healthy and he’s so smart about that stuff, but he was able to get in more practice, build a little bit more stamina for the whole year and it’s showed up on the field because I think he’s a lot better now than he was two months ago and he was better then then he was in the beginning of the year.”

What’s the benefit of having him being able to move from left to right side? How does that help you guys?

“Just that you can’t set up a plan all the time, if you know where a guy is all the time, you can dictate where the center goes. You can dictate where people go to chip. You can dictate a lot of things. It’s still not easy, it’s still real tough, but at least you have an idea where he is going to be. And it’s nice when sometimes you see the huddle break and I know you can see Nick just standing in the middle right next to the center and then he moves to his side and you can see them chip the heck out of the one D-end and this D-end not get anything and it’s really hard to just switch that stuff at the end, so just little things like that and it’s nice that he can go over the center too sometimes.”

Quarterback position aside, the Raiders do have RB Josh Jacobs and WR Davante Adams and DL Maxx Crosby and they’ve taken the lead in a number of games and just haven’t finished them, so when you’re looking at them, what do you see?

“I see some great players who can beat you. That’s why I think they’ve had a chance in so many games this year and they have been close. They’re just a few the ball bouncing a different way to be in locked in as a playoff team right now, so I know they’re sitting down their quarterback, who I think’s a real good player, but they also got three big time weapons there on offense. Their defensive end in Crosby is playing as probably the second-best defense player in the league. At least that I’ve seen this year. I think he’s been unbelievable, so they got some guys who can wreck games and you better be on your stuff regardless.”

Why do you think the Purdy-TE George Kittle combination has been so electric this year as far as the last three, four games?

“Brock has made a few good plays letting it rip and Kittle’s gotten some good looks, where he has been open and also he got one more big one intercepting him from [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud], so that definitely helped, but I also think Kittle, just like I was saying with Bosa, Kittle’s been the best he’s been all year here in these last three weeks and he didn’t get much at training camp. At the beginning of the year he had to disappear for a little bit with some injuries. When he did come back he was easing his way in, he wasn’t great and I feel like he’s gotten about a month in here without any setbacks and when Kittle does that, he gets right back to what he is always been and that’s as good as anyone in this league at his position.”

On that Kittle play, is that something you get angry about that?

“I do until the ref puts his hands up. I’m like, ‘what does he doing? Oh, alright.’ And I move on and I’m celebrating. Ray-Ray might’ve taken longer to get over it, but I could care less once it works, but it better work.”