Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – September 13, 2023

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“Injury update, [LB] Dre Greenlaw, groin. He won’t practice. That’s all I got.”


Do you know if that happened in the game?

“It’s just wear and tear. It’s just still sore.”


I had a question about when to pull or rest starters. I ask because LB Fred Warner played every snap. RB Christian McCaffrey had like three carries when you’re up 20 midway through the fourth quarter and DL Nick Bosa got at least one snap with like three minutes to go and you’re up 23. I guess it would be easy to say, ‘Get them out of there. They’ll get hurt.’ What’s your philosophy on that and it tough to figure out when to do it?

“Yeah, you pull guys when you think the game’s over and you do that off of experience and we didn’t think the game was over when it’s at that point. Now, sometime in that drive because it took so long, we debated whether to take them out before that drive or not. We’d been in that situation before, we decided not to. We kept Bosa out just for a third down, but ended up going longer and then we didn’t want to pull them out in the middle of it. So, we kept that drive. But, that was the last drive of the game. We decided that before it, just went long.”


Did you keep Bosa in to get a sack?

“No, just he helps us get them off on third down. So, we thought he could at least do a third down and end that drive pretty quick, but we didn’t.”


How much did that Week 1 experience in Detroit a couple years ago kind of shape the way you viewed that?

“That’s huge. That happened to us personally. It was I think 41 to 17 with a minute-58 left. And they had the ball with 17 seconds, 20 yards away, down seven points. So that’s a lot more than that was. That’s a personal situation, but I see it happen a lot of places.”


The way you guys use your nickelbacks or your nickel defense with DB Deommodore Lenoir first being that guy and then later CB Isaiah Oliver. Was that something that was pre-planned or did the circumstances in the game dictate the change?

“Things dictate the change. We thought they’d all play in the game, but stuff happened in the game that has us adjust.”


Such as?

“Stuff that’s between me and our team. Just watch the film. You might be able to figure it out. Stuff I can’t say, sorry.”


In terms of like a divisional opponent, usually you know these guys really well. Just kind of looking at the Rams roster, is there a lot of unfamiliarity there with them being so young?

“We have such a history, with the coaching staffs being similar for so long and the players being similar for so long. There’s a lot of new guys out there, them playing in one game and trying to figure out some of their new players that you don’t have a history with. But, once you turn on the tape and try to see it, yeah, you don’t know some of the guys, but you definitely know 99 [Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald] and you know the quarterback and then you watch the schemes and nothing’s really different. It’s two really good schemes on both sides of the ball and two great players and looks very similar and the result was very similar with what they’ve had in the past.”


QB Brock Purdy made a few plays with his feet on Sunday, including that 17-yarder right up the middle. Is that an aspect of him that is surprising to you? Did you foresee that when you were drafting him that he’d be able to make as many plays with his feet as he has?

“You never know at the next level, but that’s how he played in college. He did it a lot. I think one of his first games he had his own read play for like 60-yards or something. So, Brock’s always had a knack for making plays with his feet. He has the quickness to do it. Yeah, you never know how to equate at this level, but looked that way in practice and stuff and he’s carried it over to games.”


How much of his success is a product of the fact that he’s a lot more experienced than most quarterbacks his age?

“I don’t know. It’s how you play quarterback at a high level. Where does that come from? Sometimes experience. Sometimes you’re just good at it. But, he’s playing at a high level because he’s good at quarterback.”


When you go out and put a performance like that at in Week 1, is there a need on your part to kind of, ‘Alright, now we’ve got to bring them back down a little bit because they played so well?’ Or is this such a veteran group that they kind of police that themselves?

“I mean, usually it’s off the tape and the tape to me wasn’t totally what everyone thinks. It wasn’t our best performance. There’s a lot of things in there that could have gone a different way. A bunch. The way we ended at the second quarter not scoring on offense, not running the clock out before we gave it back to them. Giving up an 80-yard drive before half, giving up a 40-yarder on the third-and-one, possible touchdown on the third play of the game, fortunately, they missed it. They tried to come back to it like four times, but they got the wrong coverages then. There’s lots of stuff that goes into it, but sometimes games just get away and it got away real fast because we broke a 60-yarder on play two in the third quarter, and after that it was pretty easy.”


At Texas, did you ever run on the backside 70-yards to block for RB Cedric Benson and what’d you think of WR Ray-Ray McCloud III there? It seemed like a culture play. Did he get a game ball? Did you talk to him about it?

“I always tried to do that, but I was never fast enough. I could’ve caught the slower fullback but not Cedric. That was awesome by Ray-Ray. It was awesome by [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A. We didn’t give a game ball for it because that’s what we expect. I feel like that’s what those guys do every play. Those guys run hard every play. It just happened that Christian broke one and they would be put in the spotlight as lead blocker. So, it looks really cool. It was really cool, but I feel like that’s what those guys try to do every play.”


What did you make of Deommodore Lenoir’s game? I know he had 10 tackles, but he had that rough drive at the end of the first half. How did you think he did?

“I thought he had a good game. He had that personal foul on the sidelines and then I didn’t totally see it the same way with the defensive holding that he got down there. But I thought he had a solid first game playing inside and outside and good start to the season.”


What do you think of S Talanoa Hufanga’s decision to try to lateral the interception?

“Not great because he didn’t lateral it. I also thought the guy in front of him, he could have just ran around because I think he was faster than him. But, it was a good setup for the option right at it dude, if the guy was behind him. So no, I didn’t think it was that smart of a play.”


What’s the most challenging part of facing a Rams Head Coach Sean McVay-led team?

“Aaron Donald being on it would be the number one thing. They’ve got some really good players but they’re always going to be sound. They’re always going to have a good scheme. They’re always going to put their players in good positions. Starting with the offense, which is where it starts with Sean, but it’s been no different with the defense and special teams either. Those guys are always coached up well, they’re ready to go and they know how to put their really good players in real good situations.”


What did you think of Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford’s performance without Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp out there?

“As good as it can be. That was evident why they played so well. He looked like Matt Stafford, which is one of the best quarterbacks to play over the last couple decades.”


The strip sack from Steelers LB T.J. Watt. After that play, you came back to the bench and looked like you parted something to Brock. Looked like a one-way conversation. Do you remember what you shared with him right there?

“Yeah, just coaching on when we don’t get what we expect. And we did get what the second thing we expected. It was just taking too long. And Brock was waiting on it. He saw it all right and it could have been a big play, we just didn’t have the time for it. And I told Brock, my last thing I want to do is put you in that situation. I thought we’d be able to get rid of it quicker. But when you can’t, you can’t wait on it for that long. Sometimes you’ve just got to tuck it away and take the sack because we didn’t have time to wait on the look.”


So much of this offseason was the value of running backs. Obviously, you always valued that position, your dad did as well. Can you remember how and why that position has always been so important to what you do?

“I think it’s important to almost what everybody does. I think it’s really hard to win in this league without a good running game. You can have a good running game by having all 11 people dedicate to it and be real good at it, but you really don’t make a difference until you’ve got a difference maker back there. We’ve always committed to the run regardless who’s back there. I know my dad did that in his career. But when you look at when teams have really won, I think my dad had one really good one and those are the years he won Super Bowls. And when you look at our success here, our Super Bowl run, the way [Miami Dolphins RB] Raheem [Mostert] did that in the playoffs. Our next Championship deal game, the way [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] were running at the end of that year. And then last year, the combination of Christian, Elijah, mixing in Deebo to me is why you go on a 12-game win streak. So regardless of who your run running backs are, I believe in always committing to it because that’s what makes a football team good. But when you have a difference maker back there, it’s a huge difference.”


How much time did you spend in recent drafts looking at Los Angeles Rams WR Tutu Atwell and Los Angeles Rams WR Puka Nacua and what are their qualities? The compliment of them? What does it present for defense?

“Yeah, looked at him a lot in college. Tutu is as fast as anyone. He’s one of those premier play-action top-level guys. Everyone in this type of offense, ours, theirs, play action offense, they really want a guy like that. You can tell that’s why they took him. He’s premier at that. When you look at Nacua, he’s a very tough physical football player. He reminds me a lot of [WR] Jauan [Jennings]. He’s going to get after it on every play. The game’s not too big for him. And when you can put those guys in the right spots and you’ve got a quarterback like they do, it can be pretty lethal.”


Going back to the Detroit game where they almost came back, did you have another similar experience during your career? Something like that where it was like, ‘Yeah, game’s over and it’s like, oh crap?’

“Yeah, that was the biggest one that was like never again because I took a lot of people out and I still can’t believe how that happened. I’ve had to go back and keep watching it because it doesn’t sound believable but it is. But to me in particular, I’ve seen things get out of hand and close. But nothing as scary as that Detroit one. But it’s something I always watch around the league. We see it. Stuff happens fast and you just go three-and-out and that clock’s different. When they went on that long we were trying to do it then, we thought we could stop on three and out and they went longer so it was different. But I don’t have a specific one for you, but it’s something you’ve got to be aware of.”


Is it in your head like ‘I’m being too paranoid like the game is over. Come on Kyle, the game is over.’

“Oh yeah, you should get a soundtrack to our headsets. That’s all we’re talking about. Trust me, we want guys out of there, we want to go put them in bubble wrap and wait them for next week. But, once you start to go there, bad things happen a lot. So yeah, we wish we could’ve gone there sooner but we didn’t.”


With regards to starting two games on the road, is there any positives or benefits that you can take team building off the field then if you can get to road wins to start. How that kind of like jump starts your year?

“Yeah, there’s team building stuff when we go, we’ve sometimes stayed a week away in these times. We haven’t done that this year. But I think when you start on the road and if you can start out two-and-zero there’s only so many road games and you’d always rather them be at home. So, when you have that good of a record to start, it’s just more momentum going forward.”