Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – May 23, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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WR Jauan Jennings was working on the side field, did he have any issues?

“He just had a little tightness. We’re being safe with him. Same with [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B. A., both of them, same boat.”

What’s the thought process behind that last drill that you guys do? 11-on-11, no helmets.

“Just try to ease them into that. It’s something that I never wanted to do. We did it last year to have them ease into it going slower. We’ll eventually put those helmets on though, so no one busts their face up, but just making sure guys learn how to use their hands.”

When you’re evaluating quarterbacks this early in OTAs, are you judging off of timing, accuracy, footwork? What do you really look at?

“Timing, accuracy, where the balls should go, what play they have. Who makes the consistent right play the most? Who plays the most realistically that gives you the chance to win?”

How did QB Trey Lance and QB Sam Darnold do for the most part?

“They’ve had two days. I thought they’ve done a great job. We’re just putting our base stuff in on offense and defense and I thought that it’s been two really good days for them.”

Has Trey been getting all the first team snaps?

“I think he did for today and yesterday. So far. Yeah, he has.”

Is there any meaning to that?

“No, it’ll even out. We’ll make sure to get that right. And the first team is kind of funny because there’s no o-line out there and most of our receivers are second and third team on the first team today, so I’m curious what everyone thinks first and second and third team is.”

Who took the first snap?

“Yeah, he was out there the first snap.”

Veterans have different ideas of whether they should be here or not. You guys sure don’t mind as long as they’re taking care of their business away from here, but when you have a guy like RB Christian McCaffrey who’s out there setting a pretty torrent pace for an OTA it appeared. What does that do for the rest of the team?

“Not just Christian, but I mean the majority of our players. I think it’s been rare that we have had guys miss, so I think we do as good of that as most teams. But yeah, it’s huge. It’s a voluntary thing, so it is what it is, but I think it’s really hard to practice football compared to other sports. We have a lot of rules that don’t allow you to practice football, so it’s very good if guys can prepare to practice so they have a chance to get better and it’s cool of all the guys who try to work at that.”

I know you referenced with Trey in the past that, that finger injury kind of slowed his development a little bit, where is he now in terms of being removed from that and how much did it impact his first couple of years?

“I think it impacted him a ton because he had to adjust it during the season just to be able to get through. He was healthy, but it didn’t heal healthy, so he had to change how he played in the middle of the year while mainly taking scout team reps and being prepared as a number two except for a couple games. Going into the offseason having to re-correct that. I think it took him all offseason, so he worked at re-correcting that throughout the whole offseason and then he was just thrown into practice with us going into this year. That was corrected throughout last year. His grip and everything. I thought he had got that going this time with his time away. He knew what he had to focus on. He had known what he had struggled with, he had known what he had done good with. He’d gotten to see two different quarterbacks playing our offense two different ways and I just think his time away was a lot more deliberate and, in a position where he knew what he could isolate on, which I think helped him compared to last year.”

Was that an ongoing thing even up to like Week One of last season?

“No, I think when you spend four months trying to re-correct, everything’s about muscle memory and how you develop things through repetition and when you throw a certain way for an entire football season, adjusting because of how a finger feels that becomes your muscle memory. It takes a while to correct that. You have to work and isolate on just that for a long time and there’s a lot of other stuff you need to isolate on besides that, which allows you not to do that other stuff, so I think he spent most of his time working on a grip, trying to get it back, which is usually a prerequisite but because of his circumstances he got in that, so he was just late to working on the other things. This year, he went into this offseason knowing exactly just football-wise what he had to work on and I think that’s why he is ahead of last year.”

Does he have to carry himself any differently inside the building as opposed to last year where he was the starter, everybody knew he was the starter and now he’s competing for his spot?

“I think Trey’s been the same guy this offseason as he was last offseason. Trey’s a very special person that I don’t think has to try to act any way. I think guys have the respect of Trey whether he played any other position, whether he was the one, two or the three. Yeah, obviously when you’re the number one quarterback and you’ve done that and had experience that carries more weight, but also when you’re the number one quarterback and you haven’t played that stuff still isn’t real until you go out there and do it. That’s all just outside perception, so Trey’s been the same since he’s been here. The guys respect the hell out of him and they’ll continue to do that.”

Did the finger issue have a domino effect where it affected his arm to the point where it wasn’t a natural motion anymore and is that maybe where some of the fatigue or soreness came in?

“Everything. If it was a hip that bothered him, it would lead to everything, so your throwing motion as your whole body is connected from the ground up similar to a golf swing, so anything that gets thrown off, it can definitely adjust things and when you overcompensate it, whatever it is, watch any quarterback throughout the year that’s when things start to hurt and then have to go back and recalibrate it.”

Is this the strongest quarterback room you’ve had since being the coach of the 49ers?

“I don’t know. I don’t want to compare it to other years, but we have two guys who are talented enough to be taken in the top five of the draft and we have another guy who played like it last year. I like the three guys we got and I’ve always been a fan of [QB] Brandon Allen. Just watching him throughout his career and to be able to get him in here also, I feel really fortunate with our four.”

How is QB Brock Purdy doing with his recovery?

“He’s doing good. Still staying the same. Yeah. On schedule.”

Will he begin that throwing program here in the next week or so?

“Yeah, I think he’s allowed to throw sometime next week.”

Does Darnold have a veteran presence, he’s still young, or is he kind of a younger quarterback still in your mind?

“I met Sam just when he came out of college just interviewing him in Indy. Even then he seemed like he had a veteran presence. Just the way he carries himself whether he’s in a football building or whoever his peers are off the field. And he seems almost like the same guy I met five years ago, so he is a little bit more of a veteran being in a couple places, but Sam’s come in here, to me, being the same guy he’s always been. That’s why he’s had such a good reputation and he’s coming here acting like he’s learning everything from scratch, which he is, and trying to act like a rookie in that way because it is all new to him. He doesn’t want to make any assumptions and he’s been awesome in phase one and phase two, trying to do techniques he’s not used to and things like that. And it’s been cool that he put the work in in those two phases that he’s been able to use some of it here in these last two practices.”

When you were looking at him out of a college, he was a mobile quarterback at USC, not running like crazy. Is that a big feature in what you like about him now? Can you get some of that into him this season?

“Yeah, that all happens usually with reactions. There’re two types of mobile quarterbacks. Is it a type that you try to design runs for or is there a type who’s got the athletic ability or just a knack for making some off-schedule plays and I think his knack for off-schedule plays has always been good. When something’s not there and he feels space in the pocket, he doesn’t hesitate to run and he’s been able to do it very well. That’s usually a bonus. You want that anytime you have that, but you also have to be very good at the quarterback position too and Sam bringing that element is something that helps a lot of stuff as long as he doesn’t miss the other elements with it. I think that’s something you saw with Brock a good amount last year when he came in. People wouldn’t think of Brock as a runner but he is quick, he is athletic in the pocket and he makes plays very similar to the way Sam does scrambling and that’s what we see in Sam too.”

It’s a moving target, but both you and general manager John Lynch have mentioned training camp for Brock. Does that mean it is conceivable that he could be ready at the start of training camp?

“Yeah, it’s not really a moving target, it’s that only God knows and it’s all estimates, so it depends what quote people have got from me, but we’re hoping for Week One and I feel pretty optimistic about that. That’s what we’re hoping for, that he’ll be ready to play in Week One and usually that doesn’t mean that’s the day he comes back. Usually you have to come before that to make that goal and that’s kind of the goal we’re hoping for and I don’t have any reason to think differently.”

You’re missing a few guys out there, but are you generally pleased with the level of participation and energy today?

“I’m really pleased with it. It’s always different for o-line and d-line because of the way it is now, it’s hard for us to set up for those guys to get as much, so it is more of a passing deal and skill position type thing, but for the most part, I think we had five guys not here. I’d want it to be a 100%, but I’m pretty realistic with that. I’ll take five.”

The ones that aren’t here, were you expecting them not to be here?

“Yeah, I communicate with all of them, so I have a pretty good idea.”

What are your thoughts on the new kickoff rule that passed today?

“Probably the same as all the special teams coaches. When you don’t have experience of it, you don’t know which way it’s going to go. And I think the point is probably to eliminate kickoffs, which is for safety, so if that’s the case then I think everyone’s for that. I’m just not sure that it is, so we’ll have to see how it plays out now and how it goes and how we adjust to it, but that’s the rule now, so now we’ll start trying to make estimates about what our philosophies will be, but any philosophy will be developed through the experience of watching how it works out throughout the year.”

You said at the Dwight Clark event that Brock was working out with the towel. Can you explain what exactly he’s doing with the towel to sort of mimic the throwing motion?

“Everything that we work on when it comes for NFL guys throwing, it is usually from the ground up and how to time their feet, their drops, their eyes and everything. I rarely even look at where the ball goes, you just expect it to be there and these are NFL quarterbacks, so it’s tough when you can’t pick up the weight of a ball and throw because of your elbow. How do you work at everything else? Brock is healthy in every other aspect and he can move his arm, he just doesn’t want to put that weight on it, so for Brock to still be able to do his drops, all his footwork and stuff, you want to be able to simulate a throwing motion and that’s hard with nothing in your arm, so he uses a towel instead and it’s what a lot of quarterbacks do when you try to throw every day and work on things every day, but you don’t want to wear your arm down, so sometimes you use a towel, sometimes you use a football and Brock is just in a situation where you only can use a towel right now.”

You also mentioned at the Dwight Clark Legacy event that Trey Lance had cleaned up his base a little bit when he throws. Could you explain a little bit what that means?

“It means playing with your feet wider apart, always be in a position to throw. When you’re a quarterback your feet aren’t together. When you turn into a runner, your feet are together and you look to run, but then it takes you a second and a half to throw where defenders can tee off. It’s about always having to be in a certain position to throw in, so when the o-line is bad, you’re not one of those guys who’s just going to get sacked every time the o-line is bad. You know how to get rid of the ball or you know how to turn into a runner and go. And that has to do with how you balance your feet out, how far you keep them apart and how you can progress in a pocket.”

Any newcomers stand out in particular to you today?

“Not really, it’s just two days. Even if they did, I make sure I don’t even say anything to the coaches because I’ve coached too much to get very excited about guys on day one and not feel the same way on day three and vice versa, so it’s early out there and that’s what of OTAs is like for the most part, but we’ll have a better idea as we get towards the end of this. That’s the best part because we get away for 40 days and I’ve also learned to not make any concrete decisions because you get away for 40 days and you come back and that’s when you really see who got better or worse and who’s really going to make a play for this team.”