Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – August 5, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Opening Comments:

“New stuff for you guys. [WR] Marcus Johnson is in the protocol. [OL] Jaylon Moore has a lower leg strain, he’s going to miss a little bit of time. And is that it? That was it.”

Johnson in the protocol from the hit?

“He’s in protocol. He’s recovering slowly. It doesn’t look like it, but he’s feeling better.”

What was your message after Tuesday with the hit that he took?

“To wear a helmet or be more coordinated in riding a bike.”

Is LB Dre Greenlaw okay or did he just get a day off the other day?

“He got the day off. Yeah.”

We haven’t talked to you since the brawl or whatever that was the other day. What did you think of that? I know you don’t love teammates fighting, but do you like the intensity of that?

“Yeah, I love the intensity of it. I don’t think you have to fight to be intense though. Scuffles are scuffles, but then they lead to other stuff. I think that’s why we have a guy in the protocol, because we took an unnecessary shot on someone which led to the big fight. And then we had a bunch of haymakers and stuff thrown in there, which will only break hands. I think our team’s pretty tough. I think we’re pretty physical. I think if most people probably voted on who was the most physical team on tape last year, I think we’d win most of that. And we didn’t get in one fight last year, so I don’t think that totally pertains to toughness.”

Do you sense that WR Brandon Aiyuk was standing up for something or did you feel that happening out there?

“Definitely, I understood what he stood up to, so it didn’t bother me.”

QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s around, throwing, even during practice with the crowd seeing it, is that a little awkward or is that something that doesn’t even really come up with anything?

“It doesn’t come up with anything. We have a real good relationship with Jimmy, there’s no secret here of what the situation is. I think he fully understands the situation. We fully understand the situation, so we make the best of it and Jimmy’s out there. He is feeling better and better each day. I still see him, we have a real good relationship with Jimmy and he’s done some really good things here. So fans are getting pumped with him and our players still love seeing him, that doesn’t surprise me at all.”

You mentioned, I think the first day that he reported for the examination and then could go or you let him, he didn’t have to be here. Was that just entirely his choice to be here working out on site?

“Yes, I think you have to report with the rules of the NFL today. You have to report, so we made it the best for both. I think if Jimmy wanted to be in every single meeting and wanted to do everything, for sure we would let him. I would guess that isn’t what he would want, totally. And when we asked him that was accurate, he didn’t totally want that, so he’s just trying to get his body ready for hopefully the next situation he goes into.”

RB Elijah Mitchell had talked about wanting to work on his one-on-one battles in the open field. Obviously, he had a great year last year, but was the issue with him that he didn’t try to win one-on-one battles in the open field? He often chose to run over people or tried to.

“Elijah’s such an efficient runner. He doesn’t mess around at all. He’s going downhill. He creates edges on people and he’s trying to go through people every play, which is why we like him so much. When you do that and you’re committed to that, sometimes you do leave some yards out there where you could have a little bit of a bigger play, but that’s \ also why I think he has such a good yards per carry. But when you go out and you evaluate everything and you watch all the runs that you had, when you get a bunch of them, you do see places you can improve. And he had a couple big runs that could have been bigger. And I think that’s what his goal is. He has the 40 to do it. But he runs like he’s a 230-pound big back, which is what makes him such a good runner. So we’re trying not to lose what has got him here and then just add other elements to his game that his body’s capable of doing.”

You said he had multiple broken ribs, I think it was the Bears game where he got that injury. He didn’t miss a game. It seems like a pretty serious injury. Did you expect him to miss some time?

“Yeah, he did miss some time with it, because it happened a couple different times during the year also. So sometimes he got through it, sometimes he didn’t. Yeah, that would seem that way to me, if I have something wrong with my rib, I can’t get out of a chair. But it’s different. Yes. Some players, [New England Patriots WR] Kendrick Bourne played with a broken rib and didn’t realize he had one. And then some guys have a broken rib and they can’t even move, so it’s all kind of where it’s at. Whether it’s front to back, each one’s a little bit different.”

LB Fred Warner had said that he was, early on, that he was kind of pushing WR Brandon Aiyuk’s buttons because he wants him to take it to the next level. Is that the kind of thing you guys watch closely or let the veterans handle it or?

“I want everyone challenging each other. I don’t care how much crap each other talk. I don’t care how close they get to fighting. They can do whatever they want to get themselves going and being as intense as they want and bring the best out of each other, which happens a lot that way. And it’s the same on the field, but once you throw a punch, you get ejected or you get a penalty. And we pride ourselves on, I want people to be irritants. I want people to get as close as they can to all that stuff. I want people to get right on the line where they’re about to black out. But you can’t black out on football or you’ll cost your team, but I love doing that to other people.”

Are you bringing in another quarterback for a workout, anybody signing?

“I’m not sure. I didn’t know we were, so are we?”

Reports are saying that you guys are going to work out a quarterback?

“That’s news to me, but I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I think we work out a lot of people, so you need people on list.”

So there’s no urgent need for an extra arm?

“No, it there was an urgent need I would know. Yeah.”

RB Trey Sermon talked about trusting his eyes and his vision. I know it’s only been a few practices, but have you seen a little difference in him and how he is hitting the hole?

“Definitely, his first four runs that he had when we– Trey sees it good. And it’s just about hitting it without any hesitation. Those holes in the NFL close a lot faster than they do in college. And I think that was something Trey learned the hard way his first year. And he’s got the film, he’s got the experiences that happened and you want to see how he is the first day you put pads on and we didn’t have to remind him, which was cool. That means he learned a lot from last year and he’s been thinking about it all offseason. He’s built his body to handle it. And most importantly you can tell his mindsets there and we’ve seen it in practice. And can’t wait to see it in these games coming up.”

The right guard competition, is OL Daniel Brunskill still in on that and what have you seen from OL Spencer Burford that’s getting him that time?

“Spencer, he’s done a great job. He’s got the skillset to do it, so it’s about getting the reps and getting used to going against our D-line and just doing it down in and down out at this level. But he’s got the ability to do it at a high level. When you talk about Brunskill, Brunskill’s been there for the last couple years. We know what Dan can do. Everyone’s has to prove himself, definitely, but getting Dan a ton of reps, isn’t always going to help him. He needs to get to the season healthy as good as he can. And we also want to make sure he is getting more reps at center because that’s what he’s had less of the past couple years.”

You’ve made it clear how highly you think of DB Jimmie Ward. There was a time where he was having trouble staying on the field, all that. He’s now one of your longest tenured players in retrospect, what made you believe so strongly in Jimmie?

“Just what he’s made of. Jimmie’s a football player. Like you don’t have to convince him of anything, he wakes up and he’s ready to hit. He wakes up, he’s ready to guard. Watch the way he challenges people in man coverage at the line of scrimmage. I think he does that better than anyone on our team. He’s also a safety who will hit as much as anyone on our team. Jimmie loves to practice. He loves to talk football. He loves everything about it and how talented he is to where we could have put him as our best corner the first couple of years we got here. He’s been our best safety the whole time we’ve been here. And the only thing that’s held him back is injuries. And when we looked at his injuries and why he was getting him, we just felt there were some freak things. And those are kind of the guesses you have to make with everyone. If you have a guy who every time he pulls a hamstring or just all these muscle things and it’s just one thing after another, a lot of time, that stuff doesn’t change. But when a guy’s broke his collarbone and he’s broken his wrist and things like that, I usually chalk that up to just some unfortunate incidents. And that’s what you have to gamble on. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be right. But that’s what we felt like. And Jimmie has definitely made us look good in that way, because he’s stayed healthy and that’s usually all Jimmy’s has to worry about. When he stays healthy everyone sees the type of player he is.”

With us, it seems like he’s really found his voice since he’s been able to kind of settle in and have you noticed that in him being more outspoken, just in any format?

“Yeah, we hear Jimmie all the time out there. He’s got a great personality. He’s always himself. The guys on this team love him and when you work as hard as he does and he’s committed to football the way he does. However you act, as long as you’re yourself, people are going to follow you in. That’s why he is one of the better leaders on our team.”

You and general manager John Lynch have always said that you’re not looking for a veteran center. You’re almost like it’s an option, but it’s not something you’re looking at. Would that option be even dwindling more? Have you seen enough, obviously barring injury or whatever, that you’re pretty well set with that position?

“Yeah. We’re very good with the people in our building. When you talk about veteran stuff, which everyone does, that just means, yeah, it’s always a lot easier when you’ve seen someone do it for 16 games or 17 games. But no one does do that until you give them the opportunity. We see in practice every day now. We saw it last year that we have guys in our building who are definitely capable of it. Now it’s about getting into those games and we’ll try to get them some experience in preseason, you show it in practice, but our o-line coach says it all the time, you don’t know if an o-lineman can play until he gets his kicked in a game, because it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen a lot. And then how do you come back the next week? Are you rattled? Do you kind of hide or do you rise to the occasion and learn how to deal with it? And that’s really, to me, what playing o-line is in NFL and you don’t know that until you give those guys those opportunities, but you have to believe in what the person’s made of. And we got the guys athletically and I also think we got the character in this room to handle those situations.”

Was that Brendel, specifically, you’re talking about?

“That’s the guy that’s getting the first opportunity, but we also know Brunskill has started at guard for us at a high level. He’s played at tackle and Dan, really anything we ask him to do, he ends up figuring it out. And plays at a level that is good enough to win at, so we got some good options.”

Former NFL WR Brandon Marshall here from I Am Athlete, I was drafted in 2006 by a legendary coach by the name of former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan. I played four years in Denver, had some spectacular seasons with coach Shanahan, former NFL coach Mike Heimerdinger, former NFL QB Jay Cutler, former NFL TE Tony Scheffler, former NFL TE Eddie Royal and so many other legends. Legendary coach, but there were some times during the course of a ball game, where people’s asses get tight a little bit. Right. It might be a TV timeout, we’re on the sideline. What do we call? And you got coach Shanahan with his paper, his call sheet. And he will always go to trips right facts y-stick lookie. So he’ll put me in the slot and he’s like, Brandon, get open. So when the game gets tight, what’s your go-to? Do you have a go-to?

“What coverage are they playing?”

Ah, let’s go quarters.

“We’re probably going to go lookie jaguar, which is almost the same play you’re talking about. But I’m going to give my player a little more freedom and give him a two-way go and not just give him the outbreak route. Some of those older guys are a little uptight.”

Adam Jones, Pacman Jones with I Am Athlete. You’ve been around the ‘94 Niners, you’ve been around the ‘90 Broncos. Is there one coach or player that you took your swagger or a little something from to get to where you are at today?

“I took everything from my dad. I never worked with my dad until Washington, which throws a lot of people off. I never worked at the Broncos, but just like you guys see my son up here all the time, right. That’s how I was. I was hopping in one-on-ones during mini-camp coming back from college and I’m sure that was illegal, but they can’t fine him now. So I just grew up all around it and so you’re around it all the time and I was always trying to be a player. But then once you get into coaching and I feel my style was more like my dad’s, not because you’re naturally trying to, but because that’s just what I was around all the time and I respected the hell out of him. But when it comes to your style or your swag that has to do with your friends and the people you hang around and the people you go to high school with, the people you go to college with because I don’t try to emulate anyone. I just try to be who I’ve always been. And that’s usually the people you associate yourself with.”

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was your right-hand man for essentially a decade or over a decade. What’s the adjustment period been like without him by your side?

“It’s been different. He’s been there for so long, so was always good to bounce stuff off of. He prepares a lot of my meeting stuff for me, so it’s been good going through this offseason, just having to train some other guys to do that. [Assistant quarterbacks coach] Klay Kubiak has done an awesome job preparing a lot of the film and stuff like that. I had him on defense last year and just brought him to offense this year and I’ve thrown a lot at him to see what he can do and it’s been great. And [offensive line coach] Chris Foerster, who’s always been great, him and I in Washington together is really what started this run game. Mike, we brought there our second year in Washington and Mike was a pass game guy, but those roles were filled up. I had [Los Angeles Rams head coach] Sean McVay as my quality control, then moved him to tight end coach. I had [Green Bay Packers head coach] Matt LaFleur as my quality control coach moved him to quarterback. So I put Mike with the run stuff with Chris. So Chris helped Mike so much to where then when Mike and I went to Cleveland and Atlanta and Chris wasn’t there, we were able to do stuff and keep building off it. And then we were so fortunate to get Chris back here. That it’s kind of been always the same and now losing Mike, Chris has had to step it up in some areas, which has been great because he was always there as the original guy, so it’s been fun to get back with him more and talking more with him and really having his imprint on stuff the more we go.”

You talked about Jimmie Ward finding his voice, Brandon Aiyuk is famously quiet, but now he’s standing up to the middle linebacker and asserting himself on the practice field daily. How much has he grown?

“It started throughout last year. Everyone knows about last year, but as last year went he was shocking us by talking at the end of the year. Walking up to [CEO] Jed [York] and just asking him what’s going on and Jed like, ‘oh my God, Aiyuk talked to me.’ So him just walking into my office randomly and just staring at me and saying hi and then me having to carry the conversation. But he started doing that a ton last year and it’s led into this offseason, which he had as good of an offseason as anybody on our team. And I think he’s grown up a lot as a person I think. But I also think that’s expected. You got a guy who went to junior college. I think he had two years at ASU and he comes into the league, which was a COVID year, which you don’t learn a lot in. And it’s been really fun to get to know him more and he’s doing a hell of a job here.”