Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 26, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“Injuries from the game, [WR] Chris Conley had an AC sprain, he’s day to day. [K] Zane Gonzalez had a calf strain. He’s going to miss a few weeks. [S] Tayler Hawkins had a hand fracture. He is going to need surgery this week. We’ll have a timeline after. [TE] Cam Latu knee-meniscus, has some swelling. Most likely going to have to get some surgery on that. [RB Jordan] JP Mason foot sprain. He is day-to-day. [CB] A.J. Parker pulled his hamstring. He is out a few weeks.”
Just in the big picture, how do those injuries, in addition to WR Danny Gray and K Jake Moody’s, how does that affect what you guys have to do on Tuesday as far as injury settlements or IR or anything along those lines?
“Yeah, it all affects it. Also, Latu with his thing that came up also. It all plays into each other. So stuff we’re not ready to decide yet, but it’ll all play into the factor of the 53. We know the positions we want, we know the numbers that we need. We’ve got to see who’s available. Some of these guys that are hurt, like [WR] Ray-Ray [McCloud III], Danny Gray, now Cam. We’re just going to have to see how long it is and whether to think about IR or whatever it is for the 53.”
And then with the kicker situation, do you guys have a list of players? If so, who are they? Who will be coming in for any tryouts?
“I don’t have that list. I know our guys do. I know we’re going to work out a few guys and stuff, but as of now I don’t have that list.”
Is K Robbie Gold on that list?
“I have not looked at a list. I just finished with the coaches. I just got the injury report, so I haven’t asked about that yet.”
You mentioned last night that over the next few days you’re going to have to have a lot of tough conversations with a lot of guys. Is this something that ever gives you trepidation? Does it ever get easier or just every year it’s tough?
“I think the more you do stuff, the more you get used to it. But, it’s not ever something that you enjoy doing. I think you get more comfortable with the hard conversations once you get more reps of it, like anybody does. But, you know how much these guys put into this stuff. I remember having a dream playing football when I was younger and how hard it was when eventually you realize you can’t. It’s kind of tough for you to be the person that breaks that to some people. Most of the time you don’t have to break it that harsh because you hope that they have other opportunities elsewhere. I also try to stress to the guys so much that everyone makes such a big deal about the final 53. But as I’ve always say, there’s never been a final 53 in the history of football. That’s just the final 53 for Tuesday. We still pick out 16 practice squad guys and normally throughout a year people go down and we like to bring people back that we know. We don’t like to just get random guys. So, if there’s people that have established relationships in here and have showed us they can fit in here, just because they’re not a part of our 53 or 16 does not mean that they’re not going to have an opportunity to be a part of this team at some time in the year.”
Do you guys like to have four quarterbacks? Find a young quarterback to maybe put on the practice squad?
“If there ever is one you that you feel you have an opportunity to get, you never pass up on that. But it’s really hard in a building with four quarterbacks just in terms of reps and everything. Usually your one quarterback gets all the reps with the first team, the whole first team because you’re going through looks maybe once or twice in the whole week that they’re going to get on that Sunday. And then usually the number two quarterback gets all the scout team stuff, where he’s running someone else’s offense. And trying to still call it in our own terms and stuff so he still gets some work out of it. And then usually give the three, a few of those reps from the two, so he can get a little bit of the scout team. Once you bring a fourth in there in the times we have usually they’re playing scout team safety things like that. But when you have guys you don’t want to lose and you feel like you’ve gotten one, you do what it takes to keep it. But just the way NFL practices are and the lack of people that are out here and the lack of reps that it takes that you get to prepare for Sunday it’s always hard for a fourth guy. That’s why the developmental stuff of those guys is rough.”
When you spoke to the locker room last night after the game, what was the barometer of the mood in there with the departure of QB Trey Lance?
“I think that was fine. Guys saw it earlier in the day just in the locker room and we kicked off at seven. So, I’m in the locker room way before and a bunch of players are, so I got to talk to a bunch of guys individually. I remember Trey came over here and [general manager] John [Lynch] and I gave him the news personally. And so, he was able to see, I think he saw [WR] Deebo [Samuel] in the parking lot right when he went out, maybe [WR Brandon] Aiyuk. So, all those guys got to touch base with him a little bit. So it wasn’t that big of a deal in terms of when I spoke to them after the game. I just wanted to give them a heads up on how big of a deal it is for you guys and everything and outside of that locker room from when they come in just so their minds are on the game at that time, and they got to be ready that they’re going to get asked more stuff about that.”
I don’t know if this is premature, might you have to keep two place kickers on your original 53 just to kind of hedge your bet for the game Week 1?
“I’ve never been in this situation before where we have two really good kickers in our camp and a few days before the final 53 both kickers aren’t available at this time. So, I think these next couple days are real important just for us to just see how the rehab’s going and things like that and trying to guess where it’s going to be two weeks from now when we kick off. But yeah, everything’s up. We’re discussing everything and just being ready for any possibility to maneuver this roster however. But, we really don’t know what direction we’re going to go until time takes care of that.”
With the salary cap space that was created by trading Trey, I realize it’s not this massive amount, but could that make the negotiations with Bosa any easier or have any impact on those talks?
“I don’t know. I’m not involved in any of those negotiations. I would doubt that affects it much. It’s not just this year, it’s over a two-year span and it’s not always just cap, it’s also cash, which eventually cash and cap all equal out over about a three-year span. So that all goes kind of hand in hand, but I don’t see it having much of a factor in their negotiations.”
S Talanoa Hufanga and RB Elijah Mitchell have missed a couple practices. Are they okay health-wise?
“Elijah’s abductor has been tight so no pulls or anything, but it was tight so we don’t want to push him. Especially with his history. And then Hufanga, he had a Baker’s cyst. He’ll be fine but we did a little PRP or something that will help him. So, he has been resting these last four days and he should be good to go real soon.”
I’m sure you know all about this. Any clue what a Baker’s cyst is?
“No, I don’t. I just had to ask what it was called again to people who do know, but it’s not too big of a deal, so we should be alright.”
CB Isaiah Oliver was in the game for quite a few snaps. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has been a big advocate for him. Has he improved over the last couple weeks on his play?
“Oh yeah, without a doubt. I think Isaiah’s gotten better each day. I know it was tough for him when we started mixing Demo [CB Deommodore Lenoir] and stuff in there, but it’s actually made him better. He hasn’t shied away from competition. He’s been really good in practice and I think it’s carried over to the games.”
A quick couple of big-picture offensive philosophy questions. Looking around the league, the deep ball, anything 15 plus yards is kind of weighed down. That hasn’t necessarily been a staple for you guys offensively. Why don’t you need that to be a part of a successful offense?
“I mean, I think you do if they’re taking everything else away. I think that a lot of it depends on what you’re good at. I’m not just saying us, but I’m saying any team. What is your quarterback good at? What are your receivers good at? But it also depends on how defenses play. I think more defenses now than ever aren’t as aggressive as they used to be. You go to like [Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon] Staley’s and [Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic] Fangio and that whole system, which there’s a number of people out there using it. It’s a very bend but don’t break defense. It’s not a Tampa two oriented defense, but it’s very soft zones and the deep ball isn’t there. And if you make a living of trying things that a defense is really trying to take away it’s kind of an uphill battle and you’re wasting a lot. And so sometimes you take what they give you and a lot of teams have kind of changed to that philosophy on defense. You could call a bunch of go-routes versus those looks and you’re going to have low percentages because that’s what the defense is made to take away. So, I think a lot has to do with defenses. And the more defenses adjust, we’ve got to find holes and eventually I think everything kind of comes full circle in this league, whether it’s over a two-year span, a five-year span or a decade. But that’s why I think football’s always changing. It’s how is everyone playing each other?”
How much, if at all, does that maybe change your approach personnel-wise in what you’re looking for in terms of finding some of the guys like you’ve brought in over the years who are good on the intermediate stuff that could turn it into a big play with yards after catch?
“Well, I think always with a wide out, it just starts out with how are they outside the numbers in terms of are they a threat for a go-route? And if you’re a threat for a go-route, it makes it much easier to get open on every other route. So then if you are a threat on a go-route and you can scare people on that, they’re going to play that and then you don’t have to be as good everywhere else. But then how are your hands? How tough are you with the ball in your hands running after the catch? And so, there’s some people who aren’t great on the go-route. They’re not that much of a threat. Well, how are they a threat everywhere else? Are they good with the football in the hands? Are they good at underneath stuff? And that’s why you can always balance out your five eligibles whatever way you can. But the best is when you know the true wideouts are threatening people all the time on the outside. And when they do, that allows the rest of the game to become a lot easier. And then if they’re tough with the ball in the hands then they usually get to really change the game.”