Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 31, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
With respect to LB Fred Warner’s privacy and the medical rules that you guys have to follow, what can you share? What are the possibilities of a false test and how much does this raise your alert level for a potential outbreak on the team?
“I think it’s just a good reminder that no one’s out of the woods. When you go a few weeks with nothing happening, you can start to feel pretty safe. It’s a reminder that this stuff’s out there, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not going to get into it because I can’t, but you guys know the rules with it. So, there’s a couple options with the tests that come back and we’ll see how that goes each day.”
Does his absence on Sunday have anything to do with him being on the COVID list today? LB Dre Greenlaw obviously hasn’t practiced last two days either. Is his absence related to Fred Warner’s?
“No, not at all. Dre’s in the concussion protocol. So, that’s what happened to him and you guys know Fred’s deal.”
Just what you were talking about in terms of you go a few weeks and you feel pretty safe, how much do you talk about this on a daily basis with the team? Does getting a positive test or having someone placed in protocol change the message and how you react going forward?
“I don’t think it changes anything in how we’re reacting. We feel so safe in here that that’s all we talk about when we first get here because the concerns when we got back are the same concerns that everyone had going into where a big group of guys are. Then when we’d gotten in here, to go three weeks where everybody’s passing tests every day, everyone feels pretty good. A lot of other stuff’s going on in here with our jobs and then what’s outside of this world. I think it’s just like, my family and I, we’d sit at home, we’d freak out at first and then eventually start to feel a little bit more comfortable and you might let your guard down for a day or something and then one of your family members gets it. Then you go right back to feeling how you did a month before that when you were more paranoid. So, I think it’s like everybody. Just because it doesn’t hit you or the people you’re around in a while, doesn’t mean it’s not the same as it’s always been. It’s a good reminder to the guys that it can happen at any time and we do have to keep being aware of it. Nothing changes with how we do things. Our rules are pretty set in stone. That’s why I think it is real safe in here, but we’re not in here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, this type stuff is going to happen and it’s going to continue to happen at times and we’ve just got to make sure we are on top of it and do the best we can.”
How are you approaching this week with all the injuries you have, with cuts coming up, but the Cardinals are not that far away? How do you sort of approach it in terms of preparing for the season to start, but also finalizing the roster?
“You’re mixing it all in. The main thing is we’re getting our guys ready for next week. We’ve got to finish up a few more practices and things and there’s still a lot of injuries up there where you don’t know who’s going to be available for Week One, what can happen in the next few days practicing. So, the roster is always fluid and that’s why I always talk about the final 53, everyone makes such a big deal about that day, everyone in the league, everyone outside of it, it sounds like a big deal. Saturday is the final 53, but never in the history of football is the final 53 been on Saturday. The final 53 is fluid every single day. So, it’s kind of the same. Guys get hurt on Saturday and it’s a different guy in here on Sunday and Monday. You always think that way as a coach. You’ve got to remind the players of it because people do start to look at their reps, they start to look at the roster and you can kind of get those camp eyes at this time of the year. You just try to educate them on nothing’s ever final. You’re always going for it and trying to prove that you can be a part of this team, whether it’s Saturday or whether it’s next week or whether it’s in December.”
I just wanted to ask if there’s an injury issue with T Trent Williams? Then with TE George Kittle, is that still just being very cautious with his hamstring?
“Yeah, Trent got a vet day. He should be out there Wednesday. And then Kittle is the same thing. We’re just being cautious with him and hopefully he’ll start getting some more reps here. We’ve got tomorrow off. He’ll do maintenance stuff in here, but I’m expecting to get him back later in this week.”
With Fred potentially being out for however long, who do you think is going to have the green dot on the helmet during practice and in the mean time?
“I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out. We’ve got three more practices to decide and then we’ll continue to evaluate it Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, all the way into pregame warmups. We’ll make that call right before the defense goes out. So sorry, man. I appreciate it, though.”
I’m curious what you think about any post Super Bowl bounce? Are there any ways in your mind in which making the Super Bowl last year carries over to this season in terms of confidence or players’ faith in the system? Has that been affected at all by the strange offseason, obviously an unprecedented lead up with no mini camps, no preseason games, et cetera?
“Every single person is different. So, I don’t know exactly what affects the guys, but each year is different. You come in thinking about the last year, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s more exciting when you’re coming off a 4-12 season and guys are coming in, ‘Hey, I think we’re a lot better than that. Let’s go prove ourselves.’ I think we proved that we were better than that last year, but also our guys know that that’s completely last year. That’s how much work we had to go in to do that. We do have a different team this year. There are different players, different coaches and even the people who are the same, you’re always different the next year and you’re either worse or you’re better. We’ve got to work pretty dang hard to be better than we were. If we’re not, then it’s going to show. So that’s what our guys are kind of focused on that. How much better can we be? We’ve got to find that in order to get to that spot. We also know we’ve got to find that just to get to the playoffs. I don’t think guys think about much of the year before. I know that it makes people who have never felt that experience, never played in that game and stuff know how special it is and how hard it is to get there, how cool it is to get there and how tough it is when you lose. I do think that makes people very hungry to get back to something that they experienced, but besides that, I don’t think it affects anything really.”
When you look at the bottom half of the roster and also the practice squad, as you kind of have an idea now who’s going to make the team, do you start cross training guys to play multiple positions in case stuff like this happens in the regular season?
“Definitely and you also do it, you do that all the time. You rarely have 10 O-Linemen or all 10. You’ve got five starters, five backups. You always have guys who do different stuff. You get up on game day where we usually only had seven up on game day. You never have had 10 up on game day. No one does. So, everyone has to cross train at everything. It’s the same at D-Line. Having some of our edge rushers out, inside guys have got to play outside positions. Our receivers throughout camp, we usually use just three positions out there and all three of them come in at one spot and now everybody’s done every spot. If you only could play one spot here, you’d have a hard time getting through a training camp. You see it at linebacker, you see it at safety and DB. Everything’s got to be interchangeable. It’s tough. You’d like to leave a guy at one position so he can just hone his skills there, but you always have to have a plan B because you really don’t have a backup for everyone on the team in specific roles. So, you’ve got to be versatile.”
You mentioned kind of mixing things together this week. Under normal circumstances, obviously, you would play the final preseason game and then you’d make your cuts and then start game planning. How does things change this year without having a preseason game? Do you start game planning now or are you more cautious with it knowing that you could be releasing a bunch of guys that would have a game plan if you did? How do you kind of balance that?
“Yeah, that kind of no different this year than the other years. As coaches, you always have an idea just from watching film and stuff, what you want to do in Week One because you don’t go off the preseason a ton. So, people have their tapes and stuff from years past and you always have an idea, but Week One’s always weird because stuff always changes once that first quarter starts. I never tried to go too hard with what you put in players’ heads or even coaches the week before, because a lot of times you get to the next week and it’s kind of changed. It’s hard to bring guys back and then you get into the first quarter and you find out what you’re going against and then it changes again. You’re really preparing guys to do assignments. You’re preparing guys to be good at certain things that you know you’re going to employ throughout the year at some time, whether it’s Week One, Week Three. You’re just trying to train that muscle memory so you’ve put everyone who you’re going to use through certain things. Then based off of what you’re going against schematically, that’s how you decide on how to call it.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was talking about QB Jimmy Garoppolo yesterday saying that he’s been much more decisive. S Jaquiski Tartt said that he’s not staring down his receivers as much. What kind of things are you working on with him to improve and your thoughts on what they said?
“Yeah, I agree with that. The more you’re in a system, the more you go against the same defense over and over, the more things become second nature. So, you expect that from him. You expect that from a lot of guys who are going through camp and going verse some of the same players, the same coverages for a couple of years here. That’s also what’s good about trying to mix in some different stuff. Sometimes I’ve got to do some different stuff for the defense that we wouldn’t do offensively. Sometimes they’ve got to do some stuff that they don’t really want to do, but our quarterback or receivers or our O-Line, someone needs to see it. I think our whole team’s pretty sharp at going against each other. We’ve had enough of that. We’re ready for that to end. So, the quicker we can go against some other people, we’ll see how it’s panned off.”
At least symbolically, Jimmy ended training camp, I think with six touchdown passes in the red zone drill. Is that, as a coach, do you get excited about that or is it as stupid as getting really upset about five straight interceptions in a training camp practice?
“I get excited because your article will be better. So, that’s better for the players and their family. It takes the pressure off them a little bit more. Whether it’s good or bad, I think in practice you can always learn from it. We’ve had some of the best Friday practices ever followed by the worst Sunday game imaginable. Then we’ve been horrible on Friday, where I don’t even think we can line up on Sunday, and then we throw for 400 yards on offense. I’m really, usually pretty much upset, usually, in practice most of the days and even when good things happen, I don’t always totally notice those stats. I thought we executed much better in the red zone than we have throughout these practices. I thought Jimmy played very well. I also thought he had some better looks, which helps makes it less hard on him. I try not to get too caught up in that stuff because I have before and I see how quickly that can change the next day. So, I really just try to prepare as much as I can and only try to judge it off of Sunday.”
What kind of camp was Fred having? It just seemed from our standpoint, like he was playing really well and seems like he’s ready to take a next step in 2020.
“Yeah. Fred gets better each year. He came in and played at a high level as a rookie, put a lot of pressure on him as a rookie and that pressure paid off because it gave him a ton of experience. He rose to the challenge then, and he’s taken it to a whole other level each year. Fred is as much of a pro as I’ve been around. While he’s not in here, I’m sure he’s in his apartment doing bag drills or wherever he’s living, just going crazy that he can’t be in here. So, Fred’s a stud. Whenever he can come back, he will be ready to go.”
I was wondering, with college football season up in the air, has there been any discussion about bringing in college coaches as consultants just kind of help you guys out and give you a fresh set of eyes?
“Not really. All those guys, obviously, are real good coaches and stuff, but you only can have so many people in a building and especially now. You definitely can’t add extra people in a building. We’ve got a pretty good system here on who does what and stuff we can add and stuff we have to take away. We don’t need much more overload on that stuff. So, try to pull it back, if anything.”
Kind of a quick follow up to my earlier question. The history of Super Bowl teams, as you probably know, it’s rare for them to get back the next year, particularly Super Bowl losing teams. I think only one of the last 25 or 26. Why do you think that is?
“I think the first reason is just the rules of the NFL and salary caps and stuff like that. Teams who have success in the playoffs, teams who have success in the Super Bowl, those teams become much bigger free agents for other teams. It seems like everyone who was on a Super Bowl team, win or lose, the next year they get a little bit more money when they have their opportunities. So, it’s very hard to keep teams together. That’s one of the coolest things about the NFL that you don’t see many dynasties last and when you lose one, it’s even harder because it’s starts with that. Then a lot of people, it’s so hard to get there and you put in so much work to get there and it goes a month longer than you’re used to and things like that. Human nature, you want to sit back and relax a little bit. Then I think some people do that a little bit too long. I mean, it’s okay to do that for a couple of months. You need to recover, you need to get away, but then you need to go back to work. You’ve also got to understand that in this league, you only get better or you get worse and it is very hard to get better when you think you were that good. You better be extremely humble, you better recognize that and you better be willing to put in the pain and sacrifice that it goes through to get to that moment. I always say that in order to get to heaven, you’ve got to go through hell and I feel like that’s what you do. Sometimes, that’s not fun. That’s why if you want to get to that moment again, you better get away and relax because you know how hard it is. So, when it’s time to come, you’re ready to pay your dues and go through that grind. If you do, that gives you a chance at the end of the year to be the only happy team in the league.”