Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – September 14, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening Comments:

“Injuries for the practice today: [OL Daniel] Brunskill and [TE George] Kittle won’t practice, same deal from last week. [T] Trent Williams is not practicing, but just a vet day for him and [LB Dre] Greenlaw will be limited, same deal from last week. Go ahead.”

With QB Trey Lance and WR Deebo Samuel, obviously they’re very physical runners. As a playcaller, how do you balance their physicality versus you have 16 more games left this season?

“Deebo is a physical runner, that’s how he runs, whether he is running it or we’re throwing it to him, I feel it’s the same ending. So that’s what you always hope and that’s what you want with, to me, every single player that gets the ball except for a quarterback. Quarterbacks, you have to pick and choose. Sliding is the best deal, but sometimes there’s ways to go down forward without taking the hits and I think Trey’s done a pretty good job of that. Did a lot better in this game too.”

Has George made any progress with the groin injury?

“He’s made a lot of progress, so hopefully we’ll have better luck this week.”

In the game Sunday, what was your field level view of Lance’s completion to WR Ray-Ray McCloud and did you learn anything about him from that pass?

“It was the exact same pass he threw to [WR Brandon] Aiyuk the series before, just a high-cross and he was open, did a good job hitting him in stride, so.”

You said about your rookie runners that they need to be better without the ball. How are they with the ball? Are they decisive to the degree that you’re looking for?

“Yeah, I like their style of running, both of them. I think they’re very similar. They don’t mess around, they get downhill. Two types of styles that we need and that we like, but there’s a lot more to playing football with us than just running with the ball.”

And without the ball, is that passing game? Is that pass protection?

“That’s special teams, that’s lining up, that’s blocking, that’s every single part of the pass play, it’s protection. It’s every single thing that goes into football when they don’t have the ball in their hands.”

When you say lining up, are you comfortable that they know it? It’s an intricate offense, but are you comfortable that they know it well enough at this point in their rookie year?

“Everyone works at it, but that stuff’s not easy. When you’re switching, Deebo in and out of positions and switching backs to receiver and him to running back, there’s a lot that goes into it and people who even know it real well, still mess it up. So it’s not something easy, but the pressure’s on those guys to pick up faster than they planned on at the beginning.”

And is it sort of a competition this week to see which one of those guys performs better as to who’s the number two going into the game?

“Yeah, for the most part, that’s what it was last week to see. We knew it was just going to be special teams. This week we’ll get a feel for him on these three days and then we’ll go with the hot hand in the game.”

Is Brunskill any closer or how much closer is he than he was?

“He’s closer than he was last week. He did have that setback a little bit ago, so we were thinking he’d be ready for Week One. And he had that setback, so he’ll be later in this week, but I’m not sure yet, not good right now.”

RB Jeff Wilson Jr.’s done very well when you guys have given him the opportunity. What is it about him that you like?

“Jeff is such a good football player, anything that we ask him to he does, whether it’s our third-down back, whether it’s playing the fullback role when our wideouts have the ball, in the pass game, in the run game, he’s been a starter for us and Jeff, he’s just a very reliable guy. When Jeff’s healthy and able to stay fresh he can play at a high level and he’s one of the guys that we trust as much as anyone around here.”

I’ve never seen a quarterback with three career starts face the intense level of scrutiny that Trey is facing this week. How do you account for so many people being so eager to write him off so soon?

“I just don’t account for it. That’s just outside of here and it doesn’t really have to do with what we’re doing.”

You guys have been interested in RB Marlon Mack for a while it seems like. At least dating back to last year, what is it about him that you like, I guess he’s 2017, and were you looking at him as far back as that draft?

“The most I studied him was college, and I liked him coming out of college a lot. And I think we all did in here, then I know he did good early on in Indy. Had some tough injuries, but those are the things our guys stay on top of throughout. We all have rankings of guys in college and then we see how they perform in the NFL. Coaches don’t get to get to it much until they become free agents, but that’s stuff our guys are doing all the time and we got a list on everybody.”

RB Jordan Mason and RB Ty Davis-Price, how much do you rely on RB Elijah Mitchell, who was in a similar position last year where he had to come in after a Week One injury to kind of help them along?

“We weren’t totally sure, you don’t know about guys until they get this opportunity and Elijah’s rookie year, he missed about half of training camp. So we had a gut feeling that he could be as good as he’s ended up being, but you don’t totally know on the guy until they get in the heat of battle. And we were real worried going into that game that we wanted to keep [Miami Dolphins RB] Raheem [Mostert] healthy and he went down the second play and you don’t really have a choice to wait and see, you have to see what he knows and what he doesn’t. And Elijah after that first game, showed that he had ability that he had shown in practice, but he showed the game wasn’t too big for him. And he was someone we could count on. And Elijah’s been a pro ever since Week One of his rookie year.”

Are you counting on him to kind of help them move into a similar role or at least guide them a little bit?

“Hopefully they look at him as an example and what you have to do to prepare for a game. Hopefully they look at Jeff Wilson that way. Hopefully they look at [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice. There’s so much that goes into a game and there’s a lot of thinking on it and you don’t want to think on Sunday, so that happens with the work you put in during the week.”

What’s your strategy this week for trying to encourage a cleaner game in terms of penalties?

“Just being smarter, when we go over all the penalties that we had, I think a few of them were definitely avoidable. But just trying to be more detailed in everything we do. Don’t let anything slide. Point everything out, nothing different than usual. I expect us to be a lot cleaner this week.”

What did you see from the Seahawks in their game on Monday?

“They were ready to go. I think everyone felt that just through the TV, on both sides, that stadium was as energetic as I’ve felt anything. It was actually a fun game to watch, I think for fans and everything, but they looked like they always do. They’re going to play really hard. They’re going to run around. They’re going to hit. They’re coached very well. They got a bunch of talent on their team and it didn’t surprise me how they looked.”

With regards to Kittle, how hard is it to protect him from himself? I’m sure he is itching to get back out there, but he’s a guy that loves football. How hard do you have to stop him from himself?

“We’re used to Kittle, we’ve had him here for a while, so this is our sixth year of being with him. So Kittle, in his mind, he’s ready to go every single day. And a lot of times, he’s right, but you also have to know that that is his mentality and that’s not going to change, so we do have to protect him from himself in that way. And that’s why it’s kind of a team effort with deciding what the best is for him.”

You said you’re pretty pleased with how Trey ran as far as protecting himself. A lot of times, I think he dove head-first once and then he did slide once, but otherwise he was taking on contact, a lot the time it was very near the first down marker. Is that just kind of what you have to do, are you saying overall that that was good because when you’re close to a first down, you lower your head and–?

“He’s got to play football still too. And so I just compare it to all the quarterbacks in the league who could run and there’s times to slide, there’s time to take edges and dive. There’re ways for receivers who get tackled going forward, splitting two people where they’re getting hit on the sides of their shoulders that you don’t feel. You have to get down when you have people in certain areas that are vulnerable, but there’s going to be some that he gets hit on. There’s going to be some that he can protect himself. And that’s just for him and us to work through.”

How do you think he’s processing is at this stage compared to where it was when he came in?

“What do you mean by processing.”

Processing the field, seeing the game, being cerebral, not staring things down.

“He’s been pretty good in practice. He had one game right there, but he gets better at that each week.”

How’s Trey handled Monday and Tuesday coming back?

“Great. Yeah, he comes back like the rest of the team on Monday and we stay here until about, we usually finish reviewing everything with the players by four. Trey’s a guy who is always hard on himself. Looks at everything hard and comes in Tuesday and does all his rehab and gets ready like the other players do, we don’t see much of them on Tuesdays. Gets a little bit with the quarterback coaches, but Trey does everything right.”