Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – June 9, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
I know this was a big topic last year and things don’t seem to be going any better this year, as far as from the injury standpoint, but I mean, can you explain this away, the injuries to RB Jeff Wilson Jr., OL Justin Skule and DB Tarvarius Moore as bad luck, or is there anything to suggest that something else is going on?
“I mean, I can tell you what happened to the three of them. You know, Jeff got hurt sitting down in a chair in the locker room and he got out of it and his knee got in an awkward position. So, you know obviously it was a freak, unfortunate accident. T-Moore hurt his Achilles on air. No one was by him, he backpedaled and he went to go break forward and it just gave out. And Skule in a pass protection drill, going against someone put his foot down and his knee just buckled. So three unfortunate injuries, two on the field. I think the hard thing was the two on the field. You know, we had a clean camp, no one got a serious injury like that. And then we had two guys in three plays with Tarvarius and Skule. So that was a little depressing. It’s always, you hate seeing that, but you know, last year we didn’t have an offseason we lost four people before training camp started. We lost [WR] Deebo [Samuel] to a broken foot in the offseason. We lost [Seattle Seahawks CB] D.J. Reed to a torn pec. We lost [Chicago Bears CB] Teez Tabor to a broken foot. We lost [WR] Richie James to a broken wrist. Those are all outside of football. So, that’s part of life, you know, we got two people hurt on the field in OTAs, seven practices. And it’s very unfortunate because those two guys are having a great practice and Jeff got hurt before it started.”
When you say you guys were having a clean camp, are you kind of done? Are you going to do any more OTAs and is minicamp still going to go on next week?
“No, we’re totally done. We really finished up our exit meetings today, really with everybody. We’re still going to keep the rookies around here for a little bit, some more than others. I kind of decided a while ago we weren’t going to do minicamp. You know, I rarely do minicamp when we get nine OTAs in, we usually do one practice and then we have like a team building thing throughout that. And kind of decided earlier in this, if we could get our OTAs in I wasn’t going to keep them for minicamp because it’s a week longer than usual. I like the guys to get away for 40 days. And we started a week later this year than usual, the whole league did. So they only would have gone away for like 32 days. And I think that does add up. So we had such a big turnout too, you know, and I know there was some question around a lot of people around the league. So I didn’t know if we didn’t have a big turnout I obviously would have kept those guys because I know we had to get some work in. But I mean, we really had 89 people show up to OTAs, which was unbelievable. And the guy who didn’t was here since February rehabbing the whole time now with [DL] Dee [Ford] so he just got away because he’d been here since February and he had to get away for just his peace of mind, but having 89 guys here and getting seven OTA practices in I felt great about it. You know, my plan was to get eight. And I was going to surprise them on Thursday and take everyone bowling. But after our seventh practice with those two injuries and just the aura it gave to it, I wasn’t going to come back and do one more just to do one more. So I surprised them on day eight instead of day nine.”
Does that mean that DL Nick Bosa has shown up and was taking part in some things?
“Yeah, I mean, he can’t take part in much because he’s still rehabbing too, but he’s been here all week and yeah he’s been good. But he came for a shorter visit than expected. He thought he was going to come for two weeks, but I didn’t let him know until I let the whole team know we weren’t doing minicamp.”
Now that you guys are mostly done with the offseason, I know you said the rookies will stick around a little bit, how do you think QB Trey Lance did in terms of picking things up and translating it to the field over the last few weeks?
“I think he did a good job. I mean, just being able to throw everything at him, you know, we got through the whole installation and be able to do that. You know, there’s a process of it. Some days you do good, some days you do bad, but there’s a whole up and down with it that is necessary for a guy to go through. So you can get those reps, soak it in, have an idea of what it feels like. Now we have tape to show him, tape to talk to him about, he gets to get away on his own and have an idea of what’s expected out of him when he gets back. And just going through the process, kind of with most people with OTAs I don’t really ever say whether it was good or bad because just going through it to me is good. Even if you didn’t do that well, which I thought he did, but it’s just experience of how it affects you in camp at least what you’ve got to work on when you’re away and really helps you get your mind right and your body right for what’s ahead of us.”
I know you don’t go like “Oh God, we’re screwed again” with injuries. But does it lead you to think about training camp in any sort of different way? I realize you got to play football, you can’t prevent injuries, but is it, do you think about just changing things up just in light of this?
“Yeah, I think about everything every single day, seven days a week. That’s my job to. And that’s why we’ve changed stuff up a lot and we always do, and we’re always re-evaluating things and doing things like I’d say, you know, we change every year a little bit. We always learn from stuff. But to sit and say we’re going to do training camp differently because someone got hurt getting out of chair, because someone got hurt on air and a person hurt his knee playing football would be pretty irresponsible of me and extremely reactionary. I just try to do what’s right for a guys and provide them football and we try to do it the safest way as possible.”
What’s your overall assessment of how the rookies progressed this week? Especially RB Trey Sermon since he was allowed to take first-team reps?
“I mean, I was just kind of like what I said with Trey the quarterback to begin with, just those guys being able to go through all these practices. I mean, last year we had rookies, we didn’t get an offseason and you have a bunch of rookies show up for training camp and you have no idea what they’re into. Some they think they’re in shape and they tweak stuff and it messes up their whole year. To be able to get rookies here, see what it’s like to play to NFL speed, to learn the playbook, to go out there and understand how NFL practices are, how fast you go, how much better the people are across from you. It gives those guys just an idea of when they come into camp, what I’ve got to work on. And I think it helps those guys have a much better rookie year. So Trey’s been great and Sermon we’re talking about, each week he’s gotten more and more reps and as we cooled it down with [RB] Raheem [Mostert] a little bit here, the last couple of weeks, it’s given him even more opportunities.”
How do you sort of, I hate to keep going back to injuries, but how do you sort of balance the need and the desire to protect guys in camp and not overwork them, but also knowing that they need those reps and they need to hit other guys in order to prevent injuries long-term? I mean, how do you sort of balance that?
“I mean, we have a whole science to it. We get the GPS of how much they go through. Every guy’s an individual. So you’ve got to think of what’s best for the team and what’s best for the individual. So, you could write a thousand-page book on that answer. But that’s what we do. You know, last year was the most disappointing time because the way COVID went and everything, training camp was cut in half and we also didn’t have an offseason. So you didn’t have the time to really train guys and practice football. So all you did was just sit there and wait and hope you get them to Week 1 which was kind of the card everyone was dealt, but that’s definitely not the way to keep guys healthy throughout the season. That’s a great way to get them there, but guys aren’t prepared to play and I thought we paid for that last year. A lot of stuff you can’t control. But one thing I do know going through this for 19 years and this being, I think my 19th season just being around it in a lot of different places, you’ve got to play football in order to get ready for football and the more football you play the better you are and the longer that you can do it. Every time you play a sport or every time you do anything, you’ve got a chance to get hurt. So obviously that goes up, but that’s what we’re paid to do. And that’s the only way you can get better at what we do is by doing it.”
What would you say the general mood was of the guys as you essentially sent them home for summer?
“I think the guys felt like we accomplished a lot. You know, I think the guys came in and really attacked it hard and that’s really what I appreciated. Our guys never came in and demanded anything. They wanted to know what my plan was. And I got a bunch of guys who really love football and who aren’t scared to work. And guys came in and did it each day, did everything we asked for. And when they did that, I just felt like our guys and me included as a coach, I felt we’d accomplish what we’d set out to do. And you try to make decisions for 90 people. Yeah, there’s probably about 15 guys that I’d love to continue to put on a whole camp for. But I’m not going to do that at the expense of the other 75. Where about three weeks ago there, I want to put on a camp for 75 people and there’s really about 15 guys I’m not so worried about. But I still like everyone to be a part of it because you don’t want to just say, ‘Hey, these guys don’t have to do it, but these guys do.’ And that’s why I’m proud of our team and that all these guys showed up and came to work and a lot got better and a lot, some guys struggled in OTAs, but it’s crucial that you learn that now, because now you can do something about it. When you learn that a week into training camp it’s ‘Oh, what do I do now?’ It’s a little too late.”
You mentioned Moore and Skule went down within a span of three plays. Did you end practice after the second injury? Did you consider ending it after the first? And what changes have you implemented to your practice methods to reduce injuries since you’ve become head coach?
“Well first, no, we finished practice and I usually don’t cancel a practice when a guy gets hurt. So I don’t, you know, unless you think I should. If someone broke their neck or something like that, that’s tough to go out there and do something, but no one really just cancels practices when people get hurt. So I think that’d be extremely weird. Second thing, we change stuff up all the time. I mean, I could go get a book out and tell you how many reps I would do in year one to year two. I don’t like to tell other teams what we do, but you know, some of our high-low stuff and how we rep guys, the way we do it off of a day off. We have heavy rep days to low rep days to heavy rep days to low rep days. A ton of stuff that goes into that, which takes us about three weeks to figure out before we put a schedule together.”
You mentioned 15 or so guys that you wish you could keep around a little while longer. You’ve spoken in the past about QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the fact that he hasn’t had a lot of full offseasons to this point since joining your team. Do you feel good about where he is and what kind of spring do you think Jimmy has?
“I think Jimmy had his best spring since we’ve had him. We had the spring the first year with him, the second year he had the ACL, so we didn’t get that. And then last year it was COVID. So this is really his second one not being on an ACL. I thought Jimmy came in in great shape, really locked in, a good place physically and mentally. And I thought he had as good of OTAs as he’s had.”
How would you assess the way things are flowing with the changes to the coaching staff, especially new roles for Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel?
“I think it’s been great. I think DeMeco has been ready for this role for a while. It’s been fun for me to watch him in it and just for him to continue to flourish and get better each day. I’m pumped about DeMeco and I think he’s going to show everyone how good he is. And I think everyone knows that already in this building. And Mike, not much different. I mean, Mike’s been a huge part of this since we’ve gotten here. And so nothing’s really changed. He just doesn’t have to share that title with anyone anymore.”
Your top two receivers are pretty easy to figure out, but after that, what’s your feeling about the guys you have? I mean, it looks like there’s, you know, you have four or five, six guys who are all kind of in the same boat. Does that make it difficult to get these guys reps, evaluate and kind of come up with a pecking order? Do you have to add somebody to this mix? Like just, what do you feel about that? The group after WR Brandon Aiyuk and WR Deebo Samuel.
“Similar to what you said. I mean, I think we’ve got a number of candidates who can earn that spot you’re talking about. We’re looking for the obvious third spot and with what you say with Aiyuk and Deebo, but those guys, they’ve got to put in a good camp and get through it healthy so we can get them up to play up to their potential. And that’s mainly allowed them to get them on to practice which would be great for them in training camp. And if they get that I know how good they’ll be going into the season. After that, you know, I’ve been happy with our group out there. A number of guys have a chance to try to earn that third role and we need a number of guys to make the roster to be ready for starting roles in case people get hurt. So it’s not to where you can just pencil in those guys. And I know [New England Patriots WR Kendrick] Bourne’s had that the last couple of years, so that’s the one that everyone wants to see replaced. But guys who have done it in the past year, you know, with Richie he’s been here for a lot and helped us a ton. And right before he got hurt or tweaked something, I thought he was having a hell of a camp. So I’m excited to see him come back. And some of the guys that people haven’t seen yet, with [WR] Jauan Jennings who was on our practice squad last year and a guy like I’m [WR] Mohamed Sanu, who’s done a lot of things in his career, who he’s been having a hell of a camp, [WR] Travis [Benjamin] has been having a hell of a camp. [WR] Kevin White’s been doing great. We got, I know I’m missing people, but there’s not a guy on our roster at receiver that doesn’t have a chance to make this team. All of them, I believe, are NFL players and all of them gave themselves a chance in OTAs to show us that and we’ll see what they do in their 40 days away. It’ll be a fun competition to watch. If everyone stays healthy it’s going to be a battle. It’s a good problem to have though.”
What’s been reported about your interest in Tennessee Titans WR Julio Jones was that there was some interest, but it never turned into some hot pursuit or maybe never even a formal offer. If that’s accurate, obviously know you love Julio Jones. Who wouldn’t, but why was it not more pursued or how would you characterize it?
“Yeah, I mean, I think the simple, like you said, no one in the world doesn’t want a guy like that. I mean everyone knows the player he is. But it’s not as simple as that. You’ve got to build a team and it’s not just year to year, you’ve got to build it for the future. And, you know, you just think about how hard it is going into drafts. You know, you never know what you’re going to be able to do in free agency, who you’re going to lose, who you’re going to be able to bring in. You’ve got lots of guys on one-year contracts, things like that. Everyone knows we don’t have a first-round pick. But what happens when you don’t have a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick and you lose the number of guys in free agency, which you never can for sure count on. And then you end up going into a draft and you’ve got to get six new spots, but all you have is a third and a fifth-round pick. It’s kind of tough to build your team that way and to consistently do it. But he’s a hell of a player and he’s going to definitely help Tennessee. And everyone knows how special he is, but it’s, you’ve got to think about the short-term and the long-term and that’s why those things are so risky for everybody.”
I’ve got like three kind of paperwork questions here. One, a Dee Ford update, two how you feel about the vaccination rates among the players and then three just confirming you guys have extended stays with the Chargers and then Greenbrier.
“Yes, the Chargers and Greenbrier. Dee Ford, that’s the guy I was talking about. He’s been here since the beginning of February doing everything. Had about three and a half months here. And a week before everyone came back, he went back to Kansas City with his back specialist. He was going to come out here next week, but if he comes, there’s not going to be too many people here left again. But he made a lot of progress in the months that he was rehabbing here. We knew we weren’t going to put him through OTAs because we don’t want his back to act up. So I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and I’m hoping he can come ready to go in training camp and hopefully he can help us out this year. Oh, and the COVID rates. I think we got 50, I think we got 52 guys who have our vaccines done. Our goal I think is to get, we need 85-percent, which I don’t have a calculator on me, but I think it’s 77 or something of the 90 that we have. So I’m hopeful we’ll get there. I think we will. It’s a different decision for everybody how, you know, and especially religious reasons. I don’t think it’s the decision for people who have religious deals that don’t allow them to do it, but everyone else does have the decision. I’m just hoping that we do it because I don’t want to have to wear my mask in here anymore. And I want to be able to have team meetings in our normal meeting room and be able to hang out with each other when we go on the road to hotels. So hopefully that’ll work out.”
When it comes to DeMeco and his adjustment to his new role, how active are you in working with him and maybe coaching him up in adjusting to that role? Are you comfortable enough with him given your familiarity that you just sort of let him be and maybe observe from afar? What’s that balance like for you?
“I mean, I have a good idea of what I was getting into before I promoted him. So it was a very easy transition. It’s not, kind of had an idea what I was going to get just being around the guy for so long and knowing how ready he is for this and my style isn’t really to micromanage anyone. I kind of sit back and let people be themselves. And if I have a problem with something or if I think there’s something that can help someone be better, I never hesitate to do that. And I do that as much as I can, but with DeMeco, you don’t have to do that too much. DeMeco has been made for this role and he’s been successful in everything he’s done. And you know, regardless of what happens, I already know we have a real good one.”