Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 22, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
Do you guys have an update on DL D.J. Jones? What kind of evaluations did he go through and what’s the outcome of that?
“He’s in the concussion protocol right now. You guys know how that is. Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later.”
Do you have an update on DL Nick Bosa?
“He’s just got a maintenance day. Just taking care of him today.”
With D.J. Jones, there’s no issue at all with his left shoulder?
That’s got to be a great relief for you that there’s nothing. I mean, obviously a concussion is a difficult blow, but nothing that’s going to be ongoing and affect him in during the season.
“No, totally. He landed on it a little bit, so you found that out somehow, but we were concerned because he landed on it. He went in and we looked at his shoulder, and ended up being totally fine to where he would have come to practice the next day, but he ended up having a concussion that we found out when we brought him in. So, we’re not exact when it happened, but it was good that we found that out after looking at his shoulder.”
Why did TE Ross Dwelley miss practice today?
“Foot was bothering him.”
There seemed to be a few maybe miscommunications or handoff issues today. How do you feel about how your offense has performed, cleanliness-wise? Do you feel like today was maybe just an off day?
“No, I feel it’s about where it is and where you expect it to be in your eighth practice. There’s been some good things and some rusty things as far as execution wise and also from guys just getting into football shape. I’d say that in all three phases really. Usually it’s about where you are with eight practices and usually you’ve got about 12 in before the first preseason game. So, it’s about where you expect to be with eight. We know this is going to get turned up a lot and we’re going to have to play a lot sooner than we’re used to. So, that’s what we’re all pressing against. How to deal with some of that stuff that you’re used to each year and how to turn it up harder because we’ve got to gain some ground here with how quick we’re going through this. You don’t want to turn stuff up too much harder because then you always go overboard. You risk hurting guys. So, we’re trying to balance it out pretty hard right now.”
Following up on that, you had mentioned at the start of camp that you were considering maybe doing some live tackling for guys who might be towards the bottom of the roster, figuring it out. Have you come to a decision on that and what all went into it, if you have?
“Yeah, I planned on it going into camp, but I still feel things out each day and how it’s going. Right now, I’d be very surprised if I do. It’s just not worth it with not having enough guys. I’m trying to get these guys all prepared with ten less than usual. Especially when you bring in the PUP guys and the guys who do get these injuries that take them out for a couple of days, how hard it is to prepare a team. So, when you do tackle and stuff, it’s risking so many other guys getting hurt. Right now, I think that’s too big of a risk. We’ll see if that changes. I look at everything each day and try to fill out where our team is, but as of now, I don’t plan on doing any full tackling.”
Yesterday, WR Dante Pettis said that last year, one of the issues was that he took your criticism personally and that he’s learned not to do that. I know you talked about it a little the other day, but can you expand upon how you’ve seen that change from him mentally?
“Dante and I had a pretty good talk when he came back. He wanted to talk and it was pretty cool hearing him tell me some of that stuff that I think he shared with you guys yesterday. Even when he said stuff like, ‘I thought I was accepting coaching,’ and stuff. But then, when I sit back and look at it, sometimes you realize you take things personally and you don’t totally hear it all. There’s a two-way street on that. Our goal in everything is to get a guy better and there’s thousands of ways we can do that. You better not do the same thing with each person. I knew Dante came in a little bit behind last year and I tried everything I could to try to get that fire and I didn’t get that done last year with him. I do see that as a two-way street. I love how Dante came back and accepted his part in it, but I also accept mine. I’ve got to find a better way to get it out of him. What’s cool is, I think he’s found a way to get it out of himself right now. I don’t like having to worry about whether I’m going too hard or how I’m saying it. I just want to say it as good as I can. Usually if guys trust you in that way, you can get that across to them. I think both of us are getting better at that right now.”
Last year you praised WR Trent Taylor for how he looked in camp. Is he, obviously coming off the injury it’s probably difficult to expect him to be at that same level, but is he getting close to that level? What have you seen from him during this first week?
“Yes, I think he’s getting very close to that. It’s just a matter of time. The more we practice and the more football shape he’ll get into, the closer he’ll be to that. He’s looked pretty good to where it’s also a fine line on how much we want to practice him to get to that. It’s kind of what I’m debating with all our players. But, we know the player Trent is and my goal is to get him healthy for the season, but I also want to give him a chance to fine tune himself and be his best self, which only comes with reps. So, we’re balancing that right now. Right now, Trent’s in a good spot to where he definitely could really help us week one. I know him, like everyone else, can get in more football shape and that’s really what this debate is going to be here over these next two weeks.”
What have you seen from the cornerbacks in the last week that just gives you confidence that you guys made the right moves by not making a big move in the offseason to bring in a starter competition, that you have your own guys here?
“You always want to bring in guys and keep adding guys to compete and stuff because you’re not always in that situation to do it everywhere. We chose to go whatever’s been available. We haven’t been able to hit that and bring in a big corner yet, at least with free agency this year or the draft. We brought in [CB Richard] Sherman a couple of years ago as a big free agent, which I think has paid off very well. I think these younger guys, whether it’s been a draft pick, whether it’s been with [CB] Ahkello [Witherspoon] and [CB Emmanuel] Moseley, whether it’s [CB Jason] Verrett coming in here as a free agent, which we got him in a very fortunate deal for us, getting a player like Verrett with the injuries he’s had and everything. It’s been great to see him have a healthy camp. All those guys, if they can just keep staying healthy and keep competing. I know there’s a number of guys out there we can win with. That’s the goal here, because the more they compete, the better all of them get. The more you compete, the more there is a risk for a setback. So, kind of like I’m saying with every position right now, that’s what we’re trying to deal with.”
What have you seen from OL Colton McKivitz? How is he picking up the offense and where do you kind of see his best fit for you guys at this stage?
“We drafted him originally thinking to play tackle. Then you have injuries and you can throw him in at guard. I think he’s got the ability to play center. I think he’s got the ability to go wherever we want him to go. I know he was a tackle in college and I think that’s how we saw him at first, but when you get to the NFL, especially if you’re not out there starting, you better be able to help at as many as you can. That’s why [OL Daniel] Brunskill’s been very good for us, getting in there. That’s how he got on the field, being able to help in a number of different positions. McKivitz, we moved him all over. It’s tougher for a rookie to go, but he’s got a chance to compete with all these other guys. With some of these injuries that we’ve had so far, he’s got more reps than probably usual. We’re probably going to have to keep him moving around positions because he’s got to be ready for everything. What has been cool about him, you don’t always do that to the rookies and stuff because they can’t always handle it. Especially without OTAs, but he, like some of our other rookies, like [WR Brandon] Aiyuk, have really owned offseason Zoom meetings and all that and really owned the playbook. He’s put in the work to where we at least can experiment with that and help us get through some practices, which is usually the main thing when you’re losing guys. Also, it allows you to see what your options are as a coach and where you can put guys.”
What are you seeing from TE Jordan Reed and is he getting closer to practicing with the team?
“Yeah, Jordan, every day is kind of a day-to-day thing and we say day to day, I’m almost doing it more in four-day blocks with our practices. I don’t plan on him getting out there tomorrow. We look at him each day, we’re conditioning him, trying to get him in football shape, but he’s a guy that we don’t want to just throw in there for the wear and tear with his history. Hopefully he’s getting closer. I haven’t talked to him in the last couple of days about it. I’ve talked to our trainers and we’ll sit here and probably evaluate it here on our off day.”
There’s been a lot of talk about Brandon Aiyuk. WR Jauan Jennings looked like he did have some progress. He made some good plays today. What has his learning curve been like?
“His has been similar to Aiyuk’s, I think. He came in and he’s been very good on the Zoom meetings and very good on the board and understanding what he’s doing. You can tell he studies a lot. Both of them, when you get out there and we’re calling plays and going fast and moving everyone, they realize they think they have it, but they don’t have it. That’s kind of what a lot of those guys realize in preseason games, especially one and two, and then they kind of get it by Week One. I think both of them are going through that right now. They’re smart guys on the board, smart guys in the classroom. We get out there and you get a little bit tired and all of a sudden, it’s a lot harder to think. When you bring up Jennings, I think he’s going through that pretty strong right now, because we’re almost in the middle of camp. I think Aiyuk’s in a similar boat.”
I want to follow up on what you were just talking about with Dante and it being a two-way street. What is your process like in terms of maybe just evaluating the way you coach different guys when you have this many people and personalities that you have to deal with? How do you go back and look and say what am I doing right or wrong with individual guys? How do you figure that out?
“When I believe in a guy, in his ability and what he can do, you’re going to get almost every single thing possible from me, because I get frustrated when I believe in a guy and I can’t see it. So, I take every angle possible. I usually am just my exact self and just tell him whatever I see on film. Sometimes if a guy, for some reason it’s not working, I try different approaches. You try to, sometimes you’ve got to shock a guy to wake him up to really understand you. Sometimes you’ve got to really explain stuff to a guy and really tell him the whys and stuff. Some guys really don’t care about the whys. You’ve just got to be aggressive with them and that’s what they want. I think everyone is kind of their own person and also everyone’s a little bit of product of their environment. It’s what they’re used to and things. I really don’t care. My goal is for the guy to get better and to be his best self. I think when players realize that about me, the more that they do, they realize that I’m doing it for a reason. I really never ride guys that hard unless I think we can get a lot more out of him. When I’m doing that left and right, and I’ve tried every single possible way, every style of coaching with someone and they still aren’t changing, then it makes it a very easy decision for me.”
QB Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown picks to Sherman in back to back practices. I know, obviously, you’re probably not nearly as concerned about those interceptions in practice as you would be in a game, but how do you balance the way you evaluate Jimmy in terms of maybe being aggressive with those throws in practice versus how you want him to handle those situations in a game?
“Practices are great because you get to experience it from practice and you can coach it the exact same way you would in a game, but it’s a little bit easier because the emotions aren’t there of winning and losing the game and everyone in the world seeing it. So, that’s what’s fun about practice. It’s never fun when a guy makes a mistake, but it’s always fun to coach it because you can actually get better from that for when it does count. You talk about, I don’t think those are necessarily being aggressive. It’s Sherm playing with vision. Both of those passes weren’t to the guy Sherm was covering, but if you sail anything over guys, or you look at one guy too long and you’re not knowing where he is, Sherm’s just going to follow your eyes and go and come out of nowhere. That’s happened to him twice in the last two days and that’s something that does happen in games if you’re not aware of those type of players. It’s great to remind him, hey, you’ve got to work on your eyes here. Just because you’re looking here, it doesn’t mean someone else isn’t looking at you and showing up at the end of the play. If no one reminds you of that, like Sherm, for an entire training camp or throughout the preseason and you get reminded in Week One, you’re like, how the hell did that just happen? It’s, well, no, that’s bound to happen, but one of our players showed you that, so you correct it. It always goes back to iron sharpening iron. A DB, if he’s squatting on every single route and covering the heck out of us, I’m hoping that we can call a go route versus him to show him, hey, yeah, you’re doing good in these coverages, but we’re going to run by you in this coverage. I’m hoping we can generate that in practice so he learns from that and that’s a really good rep. Alright, we’ve got the go arounds to touchdown. Now, instead of learning that in Week One in a big moment, you learn in a practice and it helps keep everybody honest. That’s the key because you practice against the same guys, the same coverage over and over. That’s why you do like scrimmages. That’s why you do like some preseason games, just so you can go against something different. It happens to me, too. Sometimes I call plays verse our defense for an entire training camp and I get used to all these plays being really good versus three-deep. Then I get into a game and I call the same play in a couple of same situations and it’s not the same and it’s because their three-deep is a little bit different than our three-deep. You’ve got to get reminded before you go there. All right, there are different things, there’s different players and that’s the stuff that you try to generate in different ways throughout camp.”
With the COVID pandemic that has gone on and then the social justice issues, how has the process of team building changed for you this year? Has it brought the team together more in any way because of either one of those issues?
“I don’t think so. I think our team was pretty close as it was. I think when you talk about COVID first, it hasn’t brought us closer together. I think we were a lot more excited to get back to camp. I think for a lot us, it was the first time getting back to what seemed a little bit normal for us. Just doing our jobs and doing what we do for a living. So, that’s what COVID did, but it hasn’t made us closer. I think we’ve always been close. And the social justice issues, I think, at least for our team, we haven’t had a bunch of need to get guys together and talk to them. We did when all that stuff came out, but I feel we’ve always understood each other pretty well for the most part on our team and we all understand the issues. I think we’ve had a lot of respect for each other in that way. So, I know it’s changed a lot in the world here in the last couple of months, but I feel it’s kind of always been the same inside this building.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was saying that the starting cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman is wide open this offseason. How much will you contribute to that discussion with Robert and with defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Tony Oden? What are you looking for if you do sort of insert yourself into that conversation?
“Yeah, there’s not ever a decision on that stuff that I’m not extremely heavily involved in. I’m not the offensive coordinator. I expect that always to be my final decision, but what it comes down to, to me, is who covers people the best, who tackles the best and who makes the least mistakes. It’s pretty easy to see that stuff if you give all the same guys the opportunity and they can stay healthy throughout all this. You kind of get a pretty good idea throughout practice who can separate themselves in those ways. Then you get to that first game and you watch how close it is in the game. Does it look the same way it is in practice? In games, I can’t always tell because I’m doing a lot of other stuff and sometimes I’m not looking up at times, but you can always see it on that tape after. That’s something that we evaluate every Monday and something that we talk about every night after practice, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. A lot of stuff goes into that, but that’s something that I’m not discussing with every single person in this building.”