Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 4, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening Comments:

“Alright, injuries for today. [QB] Jimmy Garoppolo, foot, will not practice. [DL] Kevin Givens, knee, no practice. [RB Christian] McCaffrey, ankle and knee, will not practice. [OL] Aaron Banks, ankle/knee, no practice. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, knee, no practice. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, back strain, no practice. [DL Nick] Bosa and [T] Trent [Williams] not injury related, won’t practice. [DL Arik] Armstead, foot/ankle, limited.”

Knee added for Christian? We only heard ankle the other day.

“He’s had that on there every day for the last month, that’s why he is usually limited on these days.”

Are you opening the window today for RB Elijah Mitchell?


How did you address the players in terms of Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin’s situation?

“We didn’t as a team. I saw a bunch of them individually on Tuesday. I talked to a couple while it was going on Monday night. All the guys had it in their individual meetings. In our team setting, we didn’t do it though, because we kind of did it all one-on-one. We had our doctor, our clinician, he’s usually here on Tuesdays for a little bit, but we made him available all day. A lot of players used it. The thing we found out was most of them used it for their wives and people like that. A lot of our players, they were doing alright, but I think the wives used it the most.”

Was there a common theme of the players or concerns that you heard them express?

“Not really. They said how sad it was and just seeing it, I think that’s the way they looked at it. They thought it was a pretty freak thing and just how unfortunate the kid was. And I think everyone was emotional about it, but none of the guys stressed to me any concerns about what they do.”

Remember when you guys were in Arizona, you said there were certain players that you kept an eye on specifically just that it was taking a toll on mentally and emotionally. Is this a similar kind of thing? Are there certain people you have in mind that you want to keep a closer eye on?

“No, I don’t think so. I think maybe if someone had a personal relationship with him, you would seek them out more than everyone. I think when it initially happens and you’re not sure why or anything, you want to look into everyone. I think by the time we got with them today, which has been a day and a half and just talking to them over the phone, I think they were in a pretty good spot with it, just understanding of it and knowing how unfortunate it was for Damar, but I think our guys are as sad as someone can be, but they’re managing.”

From your own perspective, do you put yourself in Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott’s shoes in terms of how you might react to that situation? How you think it through? What you would do?

“When I saw it, the first shoes I put myself in was his parents’ shoes that’s all I could think of. Like, holy cow, I really hope his parents aren’t watching this like I am. I hope they’re there. That was my biggest concern and I think I read that his mom was there, but somebody that’s close to him wasn’t and that’s the stuff I couldn’t imagine. I could not imagine seeing someone I knew a friend, a kid, sitting there like that and you not knowing what’s going on. And I thought that was the most traumatizing thing I think from a coach, just watching those coaches, I think they handled it as good as you could. I don’t think there is any way necessarily to handle it, but just to sit there and pray and be with all the people, I think it was bound to get canceled. I think obviously that was going to happen and you don’t know at the time, but you’re not sitting there as a coach really thinking about that stuff. Your concerns are totally with the kid and you listen to what they tell you after that, but you’re not sitting there trying to think of a gameplan or anything like that. I think when something like that happens, whether you’re the coach, whether you’re the players around, whether you’re someone in the stands, whether you’re watching it on TV, that’s when your mind is probably as clear as it can ever be, because there’s only one thing that matters and that’s life or death. And when you’re watching a life or death situation, I think your mind is extremely clear. When I’ve been around people who’ve lost people real close to them, they’re grieving, they’re wrecked, but it’s usually times where people know what’s important, because you get reminded of that and that’s all you’re thinking in that moment. And you could see that on everyone’s faces, strong.”

Did anyone with the team go over with the players, what the protocols are in in cases like that where a heart stops beating? Was anybody curious about it?

“No one asked me that. They could’ve asked our doctors, who the guys who were concerned met with, but yeah, no one asked me.”

How do you guys get back to work? Is it as much as it can be business as usual or how do you go about this week?

“Yeah, you have to do your job, I think everyone does, whatever that is. It’s really rough, it’s really sad, but you have to work too, so that’s what guys do and you try to be there for each other and I really hurt for that team specifically because of knowing how many guys have such close relationships there, but you try to be there for everyone.”

Was part of you concerned that maybe that game was going to continue because players were warming up a little bit? Were you thinking was this game going to actually continue?

“I’m sure, I don’t know, I wasn’t there talking to the guys. I wasn’t watching it, so I didn’t know what was going on and then when someone told me to look on, all I saw was facial expressions and those facial expressions looked like something extremely tragic happened. You didn’t really know, you were just wondering what happened and then you kind of put it together and you started to think, alright, there’s no way this is going on. And then they go into the locker room and you kind of assume it’s a matter of time before everyone figures that out and I think it did. I think they did, whoever did, I think it has happened in the past that I’ve heard of, but I don’t ever remember it happening. I think everyone’s kind of waiting, looking like what happens and the main thing is they try to save the person’s life and it sounds like they’re still trying to do that and let’s all pray that happens.”

Do you know either of those coaches at all?

“Not really well, they’re both really good guys. I’ve gotten to spend the last couple years with them when we go to the owner’s meeting and stuff and hang out with them. I know they’re very faith-based guys. I know they’re very good people, very family-oriented people and I don’t know them great, but what I do know of them, they are as good of people who could have been in that situation.”

I know there’s some talk, some people suggesting that the game should be impacted this coming week, but have you received any kind of indication that your game is going to be any time other than 1:25 PM on Sunday?

“Yeah, we haven’t been told anything differently, so we’re just going on with business as usual in terms of when our game is.”

Do you guys have to make any practice adjustments because of the weather this week?

“Yeah, we’re going to go in our indoor. I’m going to put plastic over my script and put a hood over my hat.”

30 or 40 years ago, it would rain a lot and the team would go to LA or to Arizona to practice. Have those scenarios been discussed at all about contingency plans that if it does rain for an extended period here?

“I discussed them a lot when I first got here then I was told it never rains. I didn’t believe it for a little bit and then after a couple years I’m like ‘ah, I guess they’re kind of right.’ I’ve gotten nervous like once a year and it ends up not being too bad. We’re kind of testing that right now, so it is what it is. At least this is the time of year, where we’re not always going full speed, there’s no lightning so as long as you don’t mind getting wet, it’s just a distraction test. You never want it to rain on game day, but if you’re going to practice in it all week or if you know it’s going to rain on Sunday, you might as well practice in it. That’s the way it’s looking right now. I told them the same thing last week though and told them we were expecting rain in Vegas and they all told me there was a dome, they didn’t realize I was being sarcastic, you hope it ties in well, but you worry about what you can control and just practice.”

What stands out about Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt over his career, what kind of impact has he had?

“One of the best players I’ve ever gone against. When you talk about MVP type players, he was definitely one of the guys. We talked about that with Nick Bosa a couple weeks ago. [Los Angeles Rams DT] Aaron Donald always, J.J. I remember my first year as a coordinator, my first game against someone was [former NFL LB] James Harrison, that was the year he won Defensive Player of the Year and beat Arizona in the Super Bowl. And I remember how he was, specifically, and I’ve always looked at J.J. that way. Different from the position he is at, it was always so hard to block him. It was so hard to gameplan him just on how to help out with the five technique, with what you do with the tight end and you put your halfback on big three-four backers and he was just such a hard guy, whether it’s run or pass game, to kind of take out of the game because of where they could position him and how big and strong he was and how smart he played and that’s why he is one of the best players I’ve seen.”

Do you have people assigned this week to start work on possible first round playoff matchups?

“No. No we don’t. Everyone’s working on this stuff and we always look at things and look at what teams do and have a good idea of it. I might have peaked at a couple other teams yesterday, but you do that for a little bit. It was nice to give us the players Monday off because it gave us a little bit more time and we used that  for looking at a couple other things, but we’ll get to that Sunday night.”

How interested were you to see what games are in which time slots, Saturday and Sunday?

“I was pretty interested. Yeah, just to kind of have an idea of what you know going into games. If we had nothing to play for, I’d definitely take care of guys a lot more with one week to go, but we have a lot to play for.”

There’s a scenario, obviously with the Vikings playing at 10 and then Philly playing the same time you guys are playing, midway through that game you’ll have a pretty good idea if you can help yourself or not. Is that something that you plan for in advance or is it kind of handle it organically as it happens?

“I think about a lot of that stuff. I don’t talk about it all. We’ll see how it plays out and we’ll see what the situation is and I know one thing we would love to be the one seed, but right now we got the two seed and we want to make sure we at least stay the two seed, in order to do that, we need to win. Maybe if Minnesota lost before us, that wouldn’t be the case, but I’m counting on us having to win to get that and we’re not going to know until the game’s over whether we have a chance for the one seed, so the way it plays out. To me, there’s only thing one thing that guys should be worried about and our team should be talking about and that is beating Arizona.”

Will you get score updates of the Philly game during the game or do you not want it to have that sort of thing?

“No, I don’t really like people doing that. I might look at the scoreboard here and there for replay and fall into the score, but we’ll see.”

The first-and-ten play, I think it was the last touchdown drive when QB Brock Purdy avoided the sack. They had the pressure coming from his left side and he kind of flipped around, threw the wall out of bounds, it looked like he missed the hot read, but he ended up with a play where he lived to see another day. As a coach, when you have a young player like that, as smart as he seems to be, do you correct that one a lot or do you let it go because you don’t want to cloud his mind too much given where you are in the season?

“No, you always correct that stuff. Especially when they’re bringing someone that you don’t have a blocker for. That stuff can change based off of our center is siding which sometimes you don’t always know coming out of the huddle. That can be on a number of things, where we position our hot routes, where the motions are, where a player is, where we are trying to go to, where we think the blitz is going to and sometimes that stuff changes and if the quarterback doesn’t know that exactly, you’re going to get surprised. And what’s been cool about Brock when he does get surprised, he’s got the quickness to sometimes be able to get out of it and he did that and was able to save it not being a bad play, but you can’t always count on making that guy miss, so you want make sure that when someone blitzes there’s usually a hole in the defense right there. And that’s usually where a hot throw is and if you know that and you can decisively replace that blitzer, you’re going to get into someone’s hands with usually time to run and that’s when they do that on first-and-10, usually it’s second-and-two instead of second-and-10 and that’s what you’re going to always do and when it doesn’t work you’re glad he’s got other clubs in his bag.”

He said he’s been coached hard this whole season, but as he’s shown he can do what he can do and I’m sure there are higher expectations for him now. Can you coach him, I don’t know if harder is the right word, but maybe coach him differently because he’s reached this level and say, ‘okay, let’s try to push him to this level’?

“Yeah, you see what a guy is capable of and you don’t want to keep asking guys to do stuff they can’t do. I hated it when my coach kept asking me to run faster, I couldn’t, but you start to see how a guy plays and Brock knows how to play the position and he’s hard on himself. When you coach someone, you want them to get better, whether you’re right, wrong or whatever, it’s just about getting someone better and sometimes you have to understand the personality of someone and even if you’re saying the right coaching point, some people don’t hear it the right way, sometimes it can mess them up. So you have to find a way to get it to him and just working his personality, it’s been really easy because I don’t really have to worry about how he’s feeling that much. You just tell him what you see because that’s what he wants. He likes to be coached, he’s smart, he kind of has an idea of our philosophy, so he’s going to watch it on his own. By the time he gets to me, I think he has an idea of what I’m going to say, but the more he plays, the more stuff that comes up and I don’t care how good a quarterback plays, you can sit there and coach him on everything all the time. I remember when I used to meet [former NFL QB] Matt Schaub on the bus after we would land somewhere and we’d always watch the game on the plane and I’d go sit by him and I would be like, all right man, you did play really good except for plays nine, 12 and 13. And he’d always go, ‘oh, what about the plays I played good on?’ I’m like, ‘those don’t matter. That’s what we expect,’ but when you have guys who just want to be coached and you don’t need to tell them 10 compliments before you tell them a coaching point, then it’s a lot more fun and I think that’s how he gets better.”

What was your 40-time?

“4.2 seconds. I was raised by a coach, so every single time that the 40 came up in the spring, my hamstring was too tight to run it five years in a row, so I would never let anyone get that on paper, but I was always good enough to run the shuttle.”