Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 22, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
Do you plan on announcing a number two quarterback or are you going to wait until right before the game? And is that something that could rotate week to week throughout the season? How do you see that?
“Yes to all that. I would think we’d probably announce it before we play Pittsburgh, but not this game.”
Do you think you could rotate throughout the week, throughout the year?
“Definitely. Yeah, definitely.”
Do you have a sense on the order you’re going to play the quarterbacks in this game?
“I haven’t decided. No. Today’s a big part of that and tomorrow. But, we’ll decide after these two practices.”
QB Brandon Allen hasn’t really gotten in much and hasn’t practiced a ton. Is there a reason just to get more snaps for other guys or is there a reason why he hasn’t been playing too much?
“It’s just hard to play four guys. It’s a challenge. We got him a lot earlier in camp knowing that, especially when we had more threes. But, we don’t even do really threes now. Our ones are consisted of ones and twos and our twos are consisted of twos and threes. It’s just tough to get those at this time.”
Do you know how the procedure will work with the third quarterback rule? Are you going to have to designate a guy or is it just one of your seven inactives can theoretically play?
“No, I believe they sent a memo last night. I have not read through it all yet. But, I believe we’re going to have to designate them. It’ll be a specific guy. You can’t go back and forth.”
You said 15 days ago you were not at all stressed about DL Nick Bosa not being here. How are you feeling today?
I know general manager John Lynch was just saying for himself that usually he thought he needed three weeks of practices to be ready for Week 1. Doesn’t mean it’s for everybody. We’re right about three weeks now. What does a player generally need?
“You never know until you put him through that. I think Bosa’s first year here he got, I think it was a high ankle sprain. I think he went like the first week of practice and then we didn’t see him again until the Wednesday versus Tampa Bay and he played in that game. So, it’s different for every player. I have as much confidence with Nick as any player I’ve ever been around. You always want it to be more time. I wish it was three weeks. I wish it was five weeks. Not sure how many weeks it’s going to be, but you always would like more.”
Have you kept in touch with him at all the last couple of weeks?
“No, I haven’t.”
What would you like to see Friday that makes you feel good about the kicking situation going into the season?
“It’s usually if they make them. I’ve got no thoughts after that. When they miss them, then you think about it and you evaluate it. You think of why. It’s not always that. Sometimes it’s the snaps, sometimes it’s the rush. But, you look into all of it. I’m pretty confident with what I see in practice every day. I know we’ve had two outings and I wish those two were a little bit better. But, if practice was the same, I think I’d feel a little bit different.”
With RB Christian McCaffrey kind of getting through camp looking pretty darn good, how much more meaningful can he be with this offense now as opposed to last year when he kind of came in on the fly and obviously did pretty darn well? How hesitant were you to pull the trigger on that trade to give up so many picks?
“You’re always hesitant just because there’s risks in everything. You know how good of a player he is and when you have an opportunity to get a player like that, you want to look into all of it, not just the player, but how it fits to the whole contract of your whole salary cap and everything. You’ve got to look at what it means by giving up those picks and you don’t worry at all about it in terms of how good he is and stuff and things like that. But, there’s also luck to it. You’ve got to stay healthy, things got to go. So, it’s always a risk. You look back at it last year, it’s thank God. How could you even hesitate on anything? It’s a no brainer. But, you never know the future of it. But, when you have a chance to get a guy like him the way he looked on tape, we didn’t know him that well. People act like I knew him before, but I knew more his parents. And having him since then, not just how he’s been on the field and in practice, but understanding the person, feels so good of what we gave up to get him and knowing that he is a 49er.”
You guys have a good track record of getting these big deals done, LB Fred Warner, WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle and so forth. Nick is an outlier in this case. Is there any frustration that you guys haven’t reached an agreement?
“No. It’s going pretty much exactly how I expected it to go. No, it’s kind of just been exactly what I thought.”
You expected it to go this long?
“Yeah, I had a feeling it would.”
When do you expect it to end?
“Hopefully sooner than later.”
How different is it to have your DC up in the booth? I know you haven’t had that previously. Is it any different for you at all?
“No, I forgot about it until after the game because I don’t need to go talk to many people face to face unless I want no one else to hear. Since we’re all attached through technology, none of that stuff matters to me. You could communicate with everyone so easily. If I need to go have one-on-ones with people and you can do it all through your microphone. So, it’s not much difference at all.”
With a team as established as this one is going into the season, why play the starters in the third preseason game at all? What goes into that decision?
“It’s all about having guys ready to play a real football game. And there’s so much that goes into mentally being ready, physically being ready. I mean, you can’t have any hesitation in this game. When Week 1 starts, people see that and you can lose games very fast just being a little bit off. You kind of build that with experience over your career, but I’ve had guys that I’ve sat for the whole preseason games and then fumble their first play that they get in and then you kick yourself in the butt for it. It’s just like, what was I doing? You’ve also played guys and they get hurt and you’re like, what the hell was I thinking? So, there’s zero absolutes in any of it. That’s why I don’t sit here and tell you guys what we’re doing way in advance. I look at each thing day to day. I look at our practices, I look at our reps, I look at the individual how he is and where he’s at in his career, how he is just with the week and where he is in terms of being ready for Week 1. All that stuff goes into it and you don’t really know until it’s over what the right decision was. So, that’s why it’s not always fun to make those decisions. But I also know when you just sit everyone and you don’t practice football, you do your guys a pretty big disservice.”
Where did you see QB Sam Donald make the biggest improvement this offseason?
“Just each day. I mean, coming here not knowing the offense, not playing an offense similar to it. Just his command getting in and out of the huddle where he is now compared to day one. He’s been real consistent in everything that he didn’t come in the first day just owning it all because you can’t when you don’t have the experience. But, each day that he’s done it he’s gotten better and better and he just looks more and more comfortable in everything he is doing.”
Where have you seen QB Trey Lance make the biggest improvement this offseason?
“This offseason was just kind of getting healthy again and redefining how he throws, getting his balance. I think Trey from when he got hurt to where he is now, I think it helped him. It always helps to play through things and go through that stuff, but for him to sit back last year and really get to watch some stuff and know what he needed to focus on because he did get that week and a half of plan, he did get the whole training camp, the whole preseason. He knew exactly what he was in for and, unfortunately, he got hurt and didn’t get to go through it. But, I think he made a positive out of it because mentally he really saw what he had to improve on just watching other guys go through it and it’s been pretty well documented but I think he did improve on that stuff before he came back and now improving on it before he came back has allowed him to get a lot better through all those reps.”
Have you thought ahead about who you’d like to see running the scout team and who could benefit from the extra reps that provides throughout the course of the season?
“I mean, yeah. But then again, this is the NFL so you think about how to get your team ready to win that week and most of that has to do with who’s best for our defense, who gets them the right look and prepares our team the best way for what they’re about to face on Sunday. And after that, you try to get everyone reps because you only get better with reps.”
So, you’re saying that that could alternate week to week between Sam and Trey?
You haven’t had three quarterbacks I don’t think at all before. Are you pretty much committed to keeping at least three on this 53?
“We kept three, I think. No, we had [Jacksonville Jaguars QB] C.J. [Beathard] and [Minnesota Vikings QB] Nick [Mullens], all three of them. After I think Nick started playing, I think we kept all three of them. I mean, you keep three when you have three. In the NFL, it’s hard with the 53-man roster. So, you’d like to keep two so you can get another position somewhere. The new rule I don’t think is going to change anyone. That’s just a bonus. It’s not like you get an extra 54th. It still takes away from that. You just get an extra one up on game day. But, for what happened to us the one time out of 10,000 games or whatever it is, I don’t think people are going to change their rosters because of that. But, if you do have a third one that you don’t want to lose because it’s hard to have quarterbacks, it’s hard to keep them on practice squad too, then that’s what you have to do.”
What are the traits you saw in WR Anthony Miller that led you guys to bring him in?
“I remember studying him coming out of college. We were big fans of him coming out of college. I remember him with the Bears doing some good things. But, we had a workout with guys. I didn’t even go out to it, but they were the most impressed with him out of the four people. I think we had four, maybe three. But, he’s a guy I remember being a big fan of in college.”
On your wide receiver corps, you’ve lost a couple of your vertical speed guys. How important as a play caller is it to have that vertical threat and does it change how teams defend you if you don’t have that piece?
“Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it’s extremely important. You have some people with that 40 time and people know when you don’t and it changes a lot of stuff. Makes it tighter.”
What did you think of RB Elijah Mitchell in first practice back and do you anticipate him seeing a decent amount of playing time on Friday?
“I doubt it. We have to ease him back in. Yesterday was his first day back. I thought he looked awesome. We’ll see how he is today. We’ll kind of factor that in after two more days of practice. But I mean, I don’t picture Elijah with just getting these two and a half days in being a big thing this week, but we’ll see.”
Following up on the wide receiver speed question. Where is WR Chris Conley in that? Does he still have that speed he had coming out and how close is he to replicating what Danny Gray can do?
“I remember we worked Chris out in the local tryout day when I was in Atlanta. And you just look at the cards and I didn’t know any of the local guys until I saw a guy with four-three on it and that was him. And then he went in the third round, I believe. But, Chris has always been a speedster, which is what got him drafted and helped him a lot in his career and he can still run without a doubt. I don’t know if it is exact same, but I know he can still run. But, where Chris has been the best is he has been a true veteran receiver for us. Him and [WR] Willie [Snead IV]. This guy is very reliable. When you throw it to him he catches it. He’s in the right spot. And he’s had to grind through camp. He’s grinding to try to make this team. But usually once those guys get past camp and they can get their legs back and stuff, Chris is one of our faster guys.”