Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – August 12, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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I’d like some clarification on the two-minute stuff. Why did you bring QB Trey Lance back for that little short play at the very end by the goal line? Was that not a tough spot?

“It probably was. I just wanted to practice the situation and see if we could get a spike and we would have if [TE Ross] Dwelley didn’t throw it to the ref. You can’t guarantee they’ll catch it. So that’s a coaching point we have, that you run it to the ref and hand it to them because they catch it like 50% of the time and if they drop it, that’s the second we need. So, I just wanted to try that situation, but yeah I thought it was the score.”

When did that become a thing, handing the ball back to the ref?          

“I mean, the first time I learned it was when I was in Washington and [former WR] Pierre Garçon would do it every time and we were kind of messing with him because I had never heard it before. And that’s what they did in Indy. So, I learned it from him and it made a lot of sense and then when I watched it on tape, they’re right. Those guys drop it way too much. There comes a time and place though when running it all the way to the ref, you don’t have enough time to run it all the way to them. Sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith and throw it.”

Don’t you just run it to the hashmark?

“Yeah, you can there and spot if for them and then they’ll grab it, but then sometimes the O-Linemen will walk through and accidentally kick it on accident and then you’ll see a ref scrambling everywhere for it and they don’t stop it so.”

What’s the plan for the quarterbacks on Saturday?

“[QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] will start out. I mean with most of our starters, I know there’s a number of guys that aren’t playing to be safe with and some guys who’ve been banged up. We’re trying to get most of our starters going, Jimmy will be hopefully just one series and then I’ll get Trey in there and hopefully just the whole first half.”

Can you say which guys won’t be playing?

“No, I really don’t mind telling you but I don’t have it memorized.”

Will Trey get any reps with the starters? Or will you take them out with Jimmy?

“No, I’ll take all the starters out when Jimmy goes out.”

Who will start the second half?

“We haven’t decided that yet.”

Could it be Trey?

“I doubt it, I mean it could be if he doesn’t get a certain amount of plays. Hopefully he gets around 30 or something, but you never know how that will go. If he didn’t get enough plays, then I would start him probably the first series of third.”

What about DL Dee Ford? Will he play in the game?

“No, he won’t.”

What about WR Jalen Hurd?

“Hurd won’t play, no.”

What did you think of Hurd yesterday?

“I was impressed with him. He got some balls. Made some plays. No, he’s coming along. The stuff that I said the other day wasn’t anything that was a shot at him. That’s the reality of injured players. I don’t think people realize that  when you have guys who are talented enough to make your team, it’s tough because it’s not about just getting them to the 53. Those are the stressful decisions [general manager] John [Lynch] and I have because there’s guys you really want to help but you’ve got to be smart with them because they’re coming off real serious injuries. But you eventually got to show that you won’t get re-injured and that’s what’s tough. You look at our camp last year and we knew Dee Ford was bothered and we only had two weeks of camp, so we were very safe with him. Then he goes out to an Arizona and tries to play for his first time in a real football game and he realizes halfway through that this doesn’t feel right. Then we have a guy who wasn’t there for the next 15 weeks and that’s why we cut someone a week before that. It almost happened with Jalen the first year when him and [WR] Trent [Taylor] went down. We thought they were going to come back Week 4, but since both of them went down, we had a bunch of young guys. I mean, a guy like [New England Patriots WR Kendrick] Bourne was on the bubble that year to give you guys a story. You look at our draft picks that we had at the time, I think [WR] Marquise [Goodwin] was starting. We had just drafted some guys. I mean, Bourne didn’t have the best camp and he was on the outside looking in. And then Jalen was hurt and Trent Taylor got hurt. So, we kept Bourne, but if everyone had been healthy, it would have been hard for Bourne to make the team. But we kept him because a couple of guys were hurt. Then Week 4, I’m expecting to get them back and the injuries are a lot worse for Trent and Jalen than we thought. And damn I’m glad I didn’t cut Bourne Week 1 because he ended up being our most consistent guy for the following two years. That’s the stress of injuries and trying to take care of these guys because you know how good they are, but you’ve also got to know what that final 53 means.”

In a practice like yesterday, Trey Lance was dealing with a lot of pass rush, do you like to see Lance deal with pressure from the pass rush?

“Yeah, you try to make it as real football of as there is, so I mean, definitely. I don’t want him sitting there playing like its seven on seven all day. That’s why I don’t like seven on seven because I’m telling them to get rid of the ball, but there’s no pass rush. I also want him, if no one’s open, to hold onto it until the pass rush gets there. I also want him to, if there’s a lane, not to hesitate to break. So, you try to generate that as much as possible. You just want him to play real. If a guy’s about to hit him, you don’t want him to just sit there and take hitches because they’re not going to hit him and then just throw it late and have a big play. No, that was a sack if that happens. I hope he knows where to get rid of it or I hope he scrambles. If we block well, I hope he makes the play that’s presented to him. So, it’s just trying to give him reps of really doing everything and when it gets to the game it’s a lot realer. We’ll see if they tackle him. We’ll see if he scrambles. We’ll see how he hangs in there.”

What have your conversations been like with him about just protecting himself on those rumblings?

“I mean, you mention it every time. I mean every time that you evaluate a run, you always talk about ‘Alright, how would you protect yourself here? How are you going down? Are you going for more or are you sliding? Are you going head first or are you stepping out of bounds?’ I don’t ever want a guy in practice to practice diving or sliding. You don’t want to hurt a wrist or get your feet caught in an awkward way. That’s something we’re all going to see in the game. Trey says the right things. He’s a pretty good runner. He’s pretty competitive. So, I hope he takes my word for it, but sometimes those guys don’t believe how hard people hit and then they get hit a couple of times in NFL they’re like ‘Alright, now I know what you’re talking about.”

Going back to Bourne, did you tell him you’ve got a second life here?

“I forget, probably. Bourne and I talked a lot, so I’m sure I told him something. But that’s why this stuff’s so stressful. I mean, we had a number of draft picks that year. You know, we had [New York Giants WR] Dante [Pettis] who was a second-round pick the year before. I think we took [WR] Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd that year. We already had [Chicago Bears WR Marquise] Quise [Goodwin] as our starter, we had [Cincinnati Bengals WR] Trent Taylor who was doing really well until he hurt his foot and back, I think it was, I forget that year. So, you just look at all this stuff and you know, it’s tough. I mean, we liked our draft picks whether there were ready right away or not, but it’s really hard to keep seven receivers. And so that’s why it’s so important for guys to have an OTAs, so guys have a chance to come to training camp so they have a chance to show you because it’s tough. You only get 53, then it’s awesome when you get more on the practice squad, but that opens them up to everyone else. So, if you are good at one position, you’re going to try to keep them all but that means you’re going to go shorter in some other area. And when I look back on it, that’s probably why we lost [New York Giants TE] Kaden Smith. You know, we couldn’t keep four tight ends. We tried to for one week but we had too many receivers waiting for someone to come back. Wasn’t ready to cut Bourne. That would have been one of the dumbest decisions we ever made. But we ended up losing Kaden who was a real good player because he wasn’t quite ready. [TE] Levine [Toilolo] was more ready at that time, but we had too many roster spots. So, we ended up trying to put him to practice squad. We ended up losing him to the Giants. Now he’s a pretty good player.”

How is S Talanoa Hufanga taking advantage of those extra reps?

“He’s doing a good job. I mean, the more reps those guys can get, I mean, they do get a little more camp legs and they get sore. But the experience is so huge whether they do good or bad just for those guys to have those reps and go through them and then to go back in the facility and be able to watch it on film. And now they’re not going to do anything tomorrow. They’ll be able to rest before the game and hopefully they’ll get some fresher legs there and go out and be able to perform.”

When it comes time to those cuts, do you guys look at it like ‘well this guy might be ahead of this guy but no one’s picking up this guy where as another team may pick up him?’

“Yes, that’s why it’s never a simple answer and I probably think I’ve said as much as I can. It’s a lot more complicated than people realize, it’s not always this guy versus this guy. It’s how to balance out a roster, a practice squad. This guy might not be ready, but you think he will be Week 4. What does that mean to how you can get through until he’s ready and what if he’s not going to be ready because he’s injured? Well, what does that mean to the team? Can you IR him? Can you get them through until Sunday and then PUP them so you can buy until Week 8 or whatever it is? So, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it.”

No one remembers what a quarterback does in their first preseason game. So, it’s not like if Trey is good or bad, you say, oh wow, now we know, but it’s kind of like the next step of like what can he do. I don’t know. Is there a sense of anticipation from you or just excitement of like what’s this going to look like?

“I’m just excited to see him play like everyone else is. It’s fun to watch quarterbacks go out there for the first time and stuff, but I don’t get nervous for the person or anything like that because I think it’s fun to watch. I know no one’s going to remember how his first pre-season game is. They will the next day and that’s alright. So, I know rookies get some butterflies and stuff and it is a big deal for them, but the reality of it is it isn’t. It’s an experience for them. I think Trey’s going to make the team so he doesn’t have to go out there and freak out about that, but he knows a lot of eyes will be on him. And sometimes those guys want to go out there and make some plays and show everyone what to be excited about. And I just always try to tell them, it’s just like practice except they can hit you. So just calm down and just do your job like you try to do out here every day because that’s what quarterback is going to be every single day of your life until you’re done playing.”

Have you ever coached a 21-year-old quarterback before and do you sometimes forget that he is 21?

“Yeah. I think [former NFL QB] Johnny [Manziel] was 21 when I was in Cleveland. But yeah, I do. The first time we talked to him, we were going to offer him a beer and then I realized that would be supplying a minor. So, we definitely didn’t. So, you forget about it. He’s mature. He doesn’t look like a 21-year old, maybe in his face, but no. He definitely acts a lot more wise than that or at least more than I was when I was 21.

What was that status of CB K’Waun Williams and DL Arden Key today?

“K’Waun had some friendly fire when he ran into [LB Dre] Greenlaw the other day, just a sore hip. I mean, I think he could have gone today if it was a game or something like that, but nothing to be worried about, day-to-day. Arden Key, same thing. Someone ran into his quad so he had a slight quad contusion, but he almost went out there today. So, nothing too big deals, should be all right in the next couple of days.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel said he wants to see Trey have successes and failures. Would you say the same thing? You want to see how he handles both?

“Yeah, I mean, you don’t want to deceive a guy. You want him to learn and sometimes you go out there and there can be some fake success, not fake, but just some gimmes and stuff. And guys, I don’t really worry about Trey. He works and stays the same every day, but sometimes situations that happen that don’t seem that good, I think they always make people stronger, they always make people wiser. And guys don’t like it, so they focus on how to not let it happen again and I would like that much more to happen in a pre-season than when the games count”

We’re going to talk to your two rookie cornerbacks today. Just given the cornerback situation and the depth it looks very likely they could play at some point in the season with significant and meaningful snaps. I realize it’s still somewhat early but do you feel comfortable with them right now? Would they be ready to do that or would they need a few weeks?

“I think everyone needs a few weeks. I think those guys are battling through a lot. Then they go up and down just like all corners do and all rookies do. I mean, when you get to a 53 and injuries happen and stuff, it really doesn’t matter whether they’re ready or not. And that’s what the stress is of drafting people in the 53. There’s not a minor league system here where you just get to wait until they’re ready. So that’s what’s so crucial about every decision you make as a staff and I really like how our starters have been playing. Anytime you’re a corner and you come out of college, you think it’s going to be easy and you’ve got a lot of ups and downs. What’s been cool is when those guys have had bad days I really love how they responded the next day. I think they’re both two guys who aren’t going to run from stuff, who want to compete, and those are guys that I would like to get a lot of playing time.”

Through the first four years Mike McDaniel hasn’t had a big media presence. Have you been entertained by the material that he has unveiled there?

“I haven’t watched any of it. I’ve known Mike for a long time. So always when Mike is sitting there talking I’m entertained. He’s one of the smarter guys I’ve been around and sometimes he’s got about a thousand thoughts going so it’s hard for him to get one answer out but that’s why he’s a hell of a coach and has helped me a ton throughout my career.”

What are some things you’re looking forward to seeing out of Trey Lance on Saturday?

“Just getting him the experience. I mean, I want to see him take command of the huddle. There actually will be a play clock out there. Just being aware of that. You know, sometimes you get comfortable when you miss a play call or something. We can always re-huddle and I’ll give it to you again, but I’m not going to be able to talk after 15 seconds and it’s going to be silent and what are we going to do? And how quick do we get it to the line and execute it? And it’s also tough when you’re playing with a lot of guys who it’s their first time too. So, you’ve got to help people out a little bit, but he’s going to have a lot on his plate and I’m just excited to see how he handles it.”