Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – September 22, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
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Opening Comments:
“Injuries for today, [DL] Kevin Givens, ankle he’s out. [RB JaMycal] Hasty out with ankle. [RB] Elijah Mitchell has a shoulder, will not practice. [DL Arik] Armstead adductor, won’t practice. [CB Emmanuel] Moseley, knee, he’ll be limited. [RB] Trey Sermon, concussion, limited. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, knee, limited.”

Is there any additional specifics on Elijah Mitchell’s shoulder, did that turn out to be a stinger or something worse?
“A little worse than a stinger. So, that’s why he can’t go today, but he’s got a chance to Sunday.”

CB Josh Norman’s going to be full?
“Yeah, he’s full go.”

When you said Sermon is limited, does that mean he’s progressing through?
“Yes. He’s allowed to have a blue jersey on today. And I think just individual. But yeah, he’s on a good path.”

Obviously when you have all the injuries at the running back position, was any thought given to checking out, seeing what RB Frank Gore is doing and what are your thoughts on him at this stage of his career?
“I think I would never put anything past Frank. I know if you probably give him a little heads up and some notice he’ll always be ready to work and help a team. I thought it was a little early for that. Our guys still have a chance of playing this week. So, we looked at it as an opportunity with not having 53 on our roster to try to steal someone off someone else’s practice squad, which we did. And then try to add a practice squad guy, which we did with [RB] Chris [Thompson]. So, we’ve never fully ruled that out. I don’t know exactly where he is right now, but I’ve got a number of people in here who have a relationship with him. If that time ever comes that we need to do that and he wants to do it then I would never rule it out.”

With Givens and Hasty did you mean out for today or out for the game on Sunday?
“Oh no, they’re out for the game on Sunday. They’re going to be out for a while. Yeah, they’ll probably go on IR soon.”

What did you guys like about RB Jacques Patrick, the guy that you took off the Bengals practice squad?
“Just when you get in those situations and you don’t have 53 on your roster, it’s a cool opportunity for all the scouts and everybody upstairs who sit and study other rosters all day to look at practice squads and give us who they think to the best one is. And they give us a good choice of guys and we looked at all of them and then we all came to the conclusion that that was our top guy. And so, it was a good opportunity for us to get him.”

He’s a bigger bodied guy than you’ve had typically in here, is he able to do the outside stuff that the offense requires?
“Yeah, I think [RB] Raheem [Mostert] changed up a lot of stuff. So, when you have Raheem and his speed, which is different than everyone’s, we get used to having that and you start to design stuff for that, which I don’t think many people in the world can do. But we’ve never said we have to have guys who run 4.3s. It’s really never been like that if you look at the history of some of our runners, it’s just kind of morphed into that recently. But we just looked for who we thought the best runner would be and they come in all different shapes and sizes.”

How does it alter that game plan with the uncertainty of who is actually going to be in the backfield on Sunday?
“It alters a lot because you have to make sure you give different options in every situation. Especially when there’s a lot of unknown. There’s a chance we might be only be down one compared to last week. There’s a chance there might be a whole new group, which would be down to our sixth on the year. So, you have to plan for everything and that’s what you do.”

It seemed like in the past, whenever a player entered, and I’m talking years ago when it first came out, the concussion protocol, it was a given they were out at least the next game. Has anything changed or has it evolved that a player can possibly get back in after going in the protocol the following week?
“Yeah, the protocols, as long as I know, it was never automatic the next game and there’s always been some type of protocol and I think they get better each year. But I’ve been in some where you barely can see the hit on tape and it takes a guy based off the protocols and what they go through, it takes a number of weeks. And I’ve seen some where like that’s not going to be good and they’re doing a lot better the next day. So, it’s hard to predict and that’s why I’m definitely not in charge of those protocols.”

When it comes to a quarterback’s quick release, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, has it. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has it, how does that especially benefit this style of offense?
“I think it benefits everybody regardless of the type of offense you’re in, but when you can get rid of the ball fast and you can do it from stationary spots, in this league, there’s rarely a pocket you can really step into throws. You’re not in centerfield throwing a ball to home plate with someone trying to score, which you’re getting a lot of momentum to do that. It’d be awesome if it was 7-on-7, but there’s some big guys right in front of you. So, you have to sit there firm and when you do that you have to create your throws with the torque of your body. And the quicker you can do that, the better, and the more strength you can get out of it. And Aaron’s been the best on the planet for a long time at it.”

You’ve seen a lot of the Packers, the last couple seasons. What are you expecting out of them this year?
“Real tough game. They’re a real good team. They’ve been one game away, two years in a row. I know their goal is as high as anyone’s in this league, just like ours. They’ve got a lot of players who’ve been around for a while, a lot of good players, a great coaching staff. And that’ll be a huge challenge.”

WR Deebo Samuel is getting 37% of the passes that you’ve thrown going his way, which is one of the highest in the league. Does that bother you in anyway? Is that okay to have that throughout or can that be problematic when one guy is getting so many?
“Yeah, it is if you’re throwing to him in the wrong situations. If you’re throwing into double coverage and if you’re going to him when he’s not open, I think it’s a huge problem. Every one of Deebo’s runs he gets is a pass 2-inches away, so those help his stats. That helps him get a lot more targets too. He is our best screen-runner. So, he’s going to get probably the majority of those, so I think that adds up. We don’t coach guys just throw to people. We try to attack the defense and put our guys in different spots. And usually the coverage dictates that. And obviously he’s one of our better players, so if the coverage is going to allow him to get open, we’re going to try to have him number one, a lot.

What’s dictated TE George Kittle getting maybe fewer looks in the passing game than we would normally expect?
“Nothing in particular. I think a couple opportunities, he wasn’t there. A couple of times in the red zone that when he has been number one, there’s been three guys on him. There was three in Detroit on one play, there was three in Philly. Which usually means someone gets uncovered, which I think happened on both of them. He’s been unbelievable in the run game and he’s done a good job in the pass when we’ve come to him but nothing in particular.”

When you called Packers head coach Matt LaFleur about seeing if Aaron Rodgers was available, did you feel totally confident about that? Did you feel a little sheepish like, ‘oh geez, he’s going to laugh at me’?
“Yeah, I thought it’d be a quick no. Which was exactly what I thought it would be. But you hear enough stuff and I think everyone knew what was going on at that time that it didn’t seem like it was worth the call, but I know how we would’ve felt if it was going to happen and we didn’t call. So, you call, you get a quick answer which what was what you’re expecting and then you move on.”

What was your initial offer going to be for Aaron Rodgers?
“You. That’s what I mean, we weren’t going to sit and go through all that if we didn’t know it was a possibility and just the thought of it, we didn’t see how that would happen. So, we made sure of it and quickly realized that, well, our hunch was right, so we didn’t have to discuss it too long.”

What’s the biggest key to getting Aaron Rodgers out of rhythm and flow?
“He’s tough to do it. You can’t give him the freebies. You can’t give him some easy completions. You have to always watch the big plays. You’d love to keep him in the pocket. But even at his age, he’s still got the skill set to get out of there and just with the flick of the wrist he can cover about the whole field. So, you try your hardest to do it and he’s been making people look bad for a long time. But yeah, if you let him get comfortable at all, I think everyone knows what that result is.”

You have played the Packers a lot recently, it almost seems like a division opponent at this point. Does it feel that way and maybe how does that familiarity work either to your advantage or disadvantage?
“Yeah, I think when you face a team twice in the playoffs, that’s always random, but they’ve been on our schedule the other two times. So, I feel like it’s almost been every year. I think every year but the first year. Lambeau is a fun place to play. I’m glad that we haven’t had to go there in a while. So, I’m glad with that, but it’s always a fun challenge when you go against one of the best quarterbacks to play and one of the best traditions. I know that Packers and 49ers go back a longways. So, I think it’s really cool for the league and for our fans and their fans, when both teams are playing at high-level.

You often talk about how many yards a running back gains when a play is blocked for a certain, how has Elijah Mitchell done in that regard?
“I think he’s done a real good job. He lowers his head and doesn’t mess around. That’s why he’s been so efficient for us. There wasn’t a ton of room there last week vs. Philly. But he got every inch they gave him and you could see him lower his head, find the crease, even when there was a small crease and he usually finishes going forward.”

There were a few throws that you talked about, the one to Deebo that could’ve been intercepted and a few to the boundary that were missed. How important is it to correct those going forward?
“It’s important every week, but there’s always going to be a few throws off. I know we were off on two screens and the one to [Mohamed] Sanu [Sr.] and then the one to Deebo, but it’s always important. You want to be perfect but I’m still waiting for a day where someone is though.”

There’s been a growing sort of feeling recently that early in the season sort of feels like an extension of the preseason in terms of the way coaches approach game planning and just getting starters playing time. I know all these games matter, of course, in the schedule, but does the fact there’s 17 games and maybe starters are playing less in the preseason make the football look a little bit different in September than it might in November and December?
“Yeah, if you don’t go through the right offseason, it’s definitely going to look different. That’s why I thought the NFL was as sloppy as it’s ever been last year. But I don’t know that trend. The NFL is too important. The 1st game of the year is the same as the 17th game. I know we’ve added one more, but this isn’t a league where you start thinking when to try your hardest and when not to. You’re going to learn a very very hard lesson in this league. But I also think when you go through camp and if you do have an injury in camp, it’s hard to be ready for Week 1 and you want to get your best players out there Week 1, but not everybody is always ready. And that happens later in the year too when guys are banged up and they have to miss or they’re limited that week. So, I don’t see it as any different, but the more you work, the more you practice, the better it usually is. But sometimes that takes some people longer than others.”

You referenced coming off two-game road trips, and then your team looking, maybe, flat or tired in the game when you came home after those trips. With that in mind, is there adjustments this week in practice?
“Yeah, we talked about it, which I think is the most important thing, being aware of it because I don’t think we did realize that in the first year. I don’t really chalk it up to that, but after having that feeling three years in a row of it, I do think that there is something to be said on it. So, you talk about it so guys are aware. Trying to focus on getting a lot more sleep, things like that. I cut the schedule in half on Monday. Didn’t come up here as long, and today we’ll go a lot lighter at practice. But besides that, it’ll all be the same.”

Does playing on Sunday night kind of help the intensity, like you said to avoid that?
Yeah. I always like the guys sleeping in a little bit. Especially myself too. So, when you know you have a night game, even on the West Coast, it’s five something, so it doesn’t seem as late as the East Coast, but I think it always helps the guys. And the more rowdy the fans are the better and usually the longer they have to do that and play corn hole and tailgate, usually the better for us.”

Your last home game, other than the preseason, of course, was against the Packers in the NFC Championship game. Does that add a little bit of extra fire, do you think it’s a little extra special this week?
“I think so, obviously the result of the game was memorable. Especially in the championship game, but just the feeling and the energy of the stadium was one of my favorite moments in sports. And when that’s the last time you felt that anywhere and it goes back to almost two years ago, it’s crazy how long it’s been. So, I know the guys are really pumped and really pumped to have the fans out there. And just watching tape and you mix in the last games that you played that team previously. Going back and forth between two games and one game, it goes to the scoreboard and there’s not one person in the stands and the next clip, the stands are packed and it just shows the difference between 2019 and 2020. And I’m very glad 2021 we’re going to have people in there.”

I’m not expecting some big announcement after one game, but Josh Norman is a 33-year old cornerback. There were questions about what he has left. Through your assessment, does it look like has a little juice left?
“Yeah, I was real happy. I’ve been real happy with Josh since he’s been here. I played against him in his career, so I’ve had a ton of respect for him. He’s been really good in practice. I know he had those two PIs in the game, but it wasn’t because he was just getting killed. He was playing competitive. He wasn’t scared to get beat. Trying to defend the go-route and trying to jump stuff underneath. So, I was happy with this play. Obviously, we want to eliminate those two penalties, but you can tell that he still looked like Josh Norman to me.”