Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 20, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
I’m wondering if you had an update on DL D.J. Jones?
“No, it was a shoulder. They’re taking a look at it right now as we speak.”
You’re obviously having to make changes on the interior of the offensive line. What do you see out of the center and how’s OL Daniel Brunskill coming along there?
“We’ve had to mix a bunch of guys up in there. We’ve lost, the center has been like our receivers, we’ve lost three centers so far, starting with [OL Weston] Richburg and then [OL Spencer] Long retiring and then going to [OL Ben] Garland yesterday. So, we’ve had to move a number of guys there, training a bunch of guys. Brunskill’s done a little bit of it. He goes in there and tries his best, just like the other guys. Brought in a new guy today in [OL Hroniss] Grasu, so today was his first day. When you lose three guys that you plan on having, you’re going to have to switch around a bunch of guys to figure it out.”
When you look at the guys who are on the Injured List right now, DL Ronald Blair III, Weston Richburg, DL Julian Taylor, WR Richie James Jr., and WR Deebo Samuel, how many of those guys are you planning on starting the season on that Injured List or one of those injured lists and missing the first six games at least?
“I don’t remember all the names you just said, but I know Richburg is not coming back at that time. I know I’m Richie James isn’t. The other guys, and I know Julian isn’t, so I think that leaves two left. So, the other guys we’re holding out hope for.”
I’m just wondering about the energy in today’s practice. It seemed like it was pretty good for the day after a day off. What did you think about that and your comments on a couple of the small scuffles today?
“I liked the energy today, especially coming off a day off. Sometimes guys tend to have to wake up a little bit after that a few periods in, but guys came ready to go. I thought it was probably one of our most physical days yet. There were some little scuffles there going back and forth, which is typical of camp around this time. We’ll see it all when we get on the film and stuff, but sometimes scuffles are a little bit, are okay. They wake everyone up a little bit, but I’m trying to make sure no one’s throwing punches or doing anything that would get us a penalty or them ejected in a game.”
WR Brandon Aiyuk seems to be involved in a lot with the ones. What is it about him, about his learning curve that has let you put him in there right away?
“He’s got the ability and he’s worked hard from a mental standpoint, so he’s earned some reps there. He hasn’t been going with him all the time. For the most part, our guys have been pretty interchangeable. Right now, the ones and twos are blending a ton together, but Brandon’s still got a lot to learn, a lot to go, but these practices are huge for a rookie like that. We’re expecting him to play a lot this year, just like we were expecting Deebo and [WR] Jalen [Hurd] last year. When it’s that way, you’ve got a lot of pressure on you, so you can’t miss a day or you get behind and he’s doing that both mentally and physically.”
Could you just talk a little bit about OL Trent Williams, what he’s done? I was watching him there in pass protection today and the feet and everything were just incredible, but just what he’s done and what you’re expecting from him?
“Trent’s been everything we’ve expected. Trent is as talented of a football player that I’ve ever been around. I was fortunate to be with him his first four years in Washington and you never know how much a guy’s going to change, not seeing him in person and practice and stuff for about seven years, but he’s the exact same guy. Still the same athlete. Still moves the same, a very aggressive player. This has been his first time playing football in about a year and a half. Came in in great shape and, like our entire football team, is still continuing to get in football shape, but I’ve been very pleased with the athlete and I’ve always loved the guy. It’s good to get him out here with our players and get him kind of used to how we do things.”
I know you’re big on your guys coming back to training camp kind of in football shape, but I want to talk about WR Dante Pettis. He had a couple of catches back on Tuesday. Has he come to camp kind of in that shape that you look for out of your receivers?
“I was very excited with Dante. The first day I saw him when he came back, we weren’t allowed to see them for a few days because all the COVID testing and stuff. He was one of the guys that I was looking forward to talking to the most. When he came in, I saw him right away when he came in and we got to talk and you could just tell his mindset, how his body was, that he spent the time away from us doing everything he could to put himself in a position to make this team and to be as successful as he can be. So, I’ve been very proud of Dante so far and I think it showed. I think he had his best practice yesterday or two days ago since he’s been here, like you said. I know he got a lot of balls and a lot of opportunities, but it wasn’t just that. It was his demeanor, the way he played, the aggression and his routes and everything. I’ve been very pleased with Dante so far.”
Since, I guess the last week or two, you guys have signed a lot of veteran players. Some guys are first, second round picks, Pro Bowl guys. Just the fact that some of these guys, I guess conceivably could end up on the practice squad. Just the way that the rules are. Before you sign them or bring them in, do you talk to them about, ‘Hey, are you willing to do this? Is this a problem?’ Just because this is a new situation and some guys may not be going for the practice squad.
“We don’t talk to them about that yet. I think everyone we’ve brought in, you’re trying to bring in guys who have a chance to make your team. That’s the thing you do first. When you lose a guy, you always look who’s out there and who can make it. If they don’t make it, yeah, then you want to see who can go on your practice squad. So, with the rules changing this year, that you’re allowed six vets on practice squad, that definitely gives those guys an opportunity or us an opportunity to keep them around. The label of a practice squad player for those guys might be a little bit different, but to me it’s just a label. All those guys we have brought in have a very good chance to make this team, but if not, hopefully we can keep six vets on this team that are practice squad guys that will eventually be playing sometime in the year. It’s going to be tough, as always, to get through an entire year. Usually when guys go down, you bring some guys off the street because not always are practice squad players ready to play. So, you try to go get a vet on the street, but when you have the ability to keep some of those guys, if it works out that way and other teams don’t take them, it’s a huge deal for us and a huge deal for everyone else around the league.”
A couple of questions for you about yards after catch. Obviously, I’m sure every coach wants guys who are good at that, but it seems like it’s become more of a point of emphasis for you over the last few years. Was there a point where that became something that you looked for in particular? Also, when you’re scouting guys who maybe that doesn’t show up on tape as much, are there personality traits that translate specifically to doing that well?
“You’ve got to be able to run pretty fearless. If you’re running around looking at who’s going to hit you and stuff, it’s really hard to attack and get up the field. Getting yards after the catch, I think is a little different in the NFL compared to college. In college, you can reverse the field, you can go back and forth sometimes. The speed isn’t quite the same. Sometimes in the NFL, the best guys after the catch are the guys who don’t mess around, they just get right up the field and get whatever yards they can. I feel like we’ve got a bunch of those guys. I think over the years of just being in offenses and stuff, you learn how to get guys the ball a little bit better, and the better you get at that as a coaching staff, then the better you want the guys who could do something with the ball in their hand after they catch it. So, it kind of goes hand in hand with everything. We always try to have an explosive offense. That’s the goal, and to get explosive plays. I think we’ve done that pretty good, just where we’ve been over our career. Last year, I think we had one of the more explosive offenses and you didn’t have to throw the ball down the field all the time to do that. You can just throw it to guys, higher percentage throws where it doesn’t put as much pressure on the quarterback, not as much on the O-Line and you can get guys open underneath. When they can turn it into a big play pretty consistently, I think it makes your offense a lot more effective and efficient.”
How do you feel about the depth along the interior of the defensive line and have you seen DL Darrion Daniels maybe surpass some expectations you’d have for a guy coming in as an undrafted rookie?
“He’s been what we’ve anticipated. We’ve got a number of guys out there, and knock on wood, for the most part, the D-Line has been able to stay pretty healthy. So, we do have some good competition. We have had some depth there these last two years, and I think we were able to add a couple of guys this year. Not having Ronnie Blair out there and not having Julian Taylor, those guys being on PUP and stuff have given some guys some more opportunities. It’s going to be a battle to see who ends up making this roster. He’s done a good job so far, but there’s a lot of them out there.”
Last season when RB Tevin Coleman remained in the starting lineup, did you ever give it much thought to putting RB Raheem Mostert in there, just because he was, at a certain point there, he became a more productive back? Just on top of that, what is it that you liked so much about Tevin that fits what you want to do?
“I like good running backs, and I consider Tevin a good running back. We know Raheem took over the carries last year and really took off halfway through the year. I know it’s a big deal who’s labeled the starter, who’s out there, and we kept going with Tevin in that. Raheem ended up getting the bulk of the carries and stuff, so I think overall, he ended up being treated more like the starter as the year went. But, the thing with us in that is, who does it help more? Is it a big deal to someone? Is it not? Raheem had always come off the bench a little bit and I thought it was kind of comfortable for him to do that. They have a little bit different style runs. We keep working both of them in. We tried to get a third guy in there, too, and we’ve got a number of backs this year who can get in that mix. I’ve always liked Tevin’s physicality. He’s got the speed that we love, like pretty much all of our backs do, but he’s never going to turn anything down and he’s going to run through people and try to get those hard yards. When people hit Tevin, there’s a little bit different of a feel to it. I like to watch how those linebackers react when they get up after they tackle him as opposed to how they react after they attack some other guys. The more you can do that and mix it up with certain guys, I think it does have an effect on the linebackers throughout the game.”
With all the smoke from the fires, how closely were you monitoring the air quality? I think it was last year where you had to consider whether to alter practices and what’s the threshold that you guys got to look to if practices might be affected by it?
“Yeah, we have some tool that tells us the number of what the air quality is. So, if it gets to 200, there’s no choice. 200, we’re not allowed to go out there and I think it was at times yesterday. So, we had guys monitoring it all day yesterday. Fortunately, we weren’t out there. If the number gets to 200, and we’re basically at the mercy of how the winds go, then we’re not allowed to be out there. So, keeping our fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t get there. Today we were very fortunate. The wind was going the right way. So, I believe our number was below a hundred. We felt there was no issues today, but we’ll be monitoring it every day. I’m not going to have much of a choice. If it gets to a certain point, we’re not allowed to go out there for good reason. So, hoping the wind blows the right way over here over the next week or so.”
What’s the update on CB K’Waun Williams and outside of CB Jamar Taylor, what’s your depth look like at nickel?
“K’Waun has a calf. I think he’s going to be week-to-week right now. I don’t expect to have him here probably for about two weeks. Jamar’s done a good job. We’ve got a number of guys in there, rotating them all around. I do think one, just thinking of some of how I’d been in the past with you guys and how I’m going to be a little bit different this year. A lot of that stuff, you guys are out of practice and everything, and then I don’t mind answering all those questions because everyone sees it in the preseason games anyways. Guys we’re repping, the order of how you rep guys and that’s what all other coaches are always trying to study. That’s why I’m usually pretty more open with that stuff because they’re going to find out in the game anyways, but this year is a little bit different when talking about who we’re playing at what position and where and why because there is no preseason. No one gets any tape. We’re not going to see anything on Arizona until we get out there on the first play in the first quarter and the same thing with us. I will, I think, be a little more different with you guys just in terms of talking about the depth and where we’re playing guys and moving guys around because that is something we’re realizing now that, it’s a big difference as we start to think about the teams we’re playing, when you don’t have those depth charts you can see yourself. So, everyone’s going so much off media reports that I might not be as open as I’ve been in the past training camps.”
Another Dante Pettis question. What does he need to do, what do you need to see from him for him to be considered to be the primary punt returner this season?
“He’s got to be better than the other guys. We’ve got a number of guys who can do that. I think in order to be better than other guys, it starts with who can catch it the best. You can’t, no matter how good a guy is back there, you can’t put a guy back there who can’t consistently catch it. The number one thing on that is for us to end with the ball. They’ve already given it to us, so if you’re inconsistent catching the punts, you’re probably not going to get an opportunity in games. So, whoever catches them very consistently in practice, then it’s going to be who – you’ve got to weigh it, weigh the risk and reward of who can make the biggest play and who can consistently get the most yards? Some guys don’t mess around and they can get you, just hit it straight every time and they get you at least a first down by getting a 10-yard run. Some guys only get like four yards, but every 20, they might have a chance of a touchdown where the guy who gets you 10 doesn’t have a chance. So, you’ve got to weigh that off and see who has got the most play-making ability and who also is consistent as can be. We know Dante’s got some play-making ability. That’s why he has more kickoff returns and punt returns than anyone in the history of college football. So, we know he’s got some play-making ability. If he catches it out here consistent, he’ll get those opportunities in the game and then we’ll see how good his average is and how many big plays he makes.”
It seemed like TE Ross Dwelley was more involved in practice today. What are your expectations for him and TE Charlie Woerner as kind of your supporting cast for George out there?
“Ross has done a great job here in the two years he’s been here, I think two. I expect him to get better each year, which he has. Ross came in as a little bit more of an undersized guy, but he’s been able to do everything we’ve asked him to do, whether it’s the run game or the pass game. When we lost [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice, he came in and did a great job at fullback for us. Charlie’s coming in trying to earn that role, too, just like that [New York Giants TE] Levine [Toilolo] had last year. That [free agent TE] Logan Paulsen had in the past, that [former TE Garrett] Celek has had here. He’s coming in trying to do that. He’s got some competition. Hopefully [TE] Jordan [Reed] can get out there sooner or later to where he’ll add some different dynamics, but we usually ended up keeping three. We’ll see if they give us a reason to keep four, but there’s some good competition going on.”
I assume you like what you’ve seen from T Mike McGlinchey in his first two seasons. But, was just wondering, can he take a next step and kind of what area might that be, where he could do that?
“I see it right now. I’ve seen Mike as a better player right now at this time than he was last year at this time. He had to battle through some injuries last year that made him miss some time and then he had to spend a few weeks trying to recover from those as he came back and then I thought he finished the year very strong. Right now, the way he came into camp with being away from us, the way his body is, the way his strength is and everything, the detail he’s had in this technique, I feel he’s at his best right now. Hopefully he can continue to keep that going into the season by staying healthy and not wearing down, but I’ve been very happy with what Mike’s done away from us because we can see it with our own eyes out there on the practice field.”