Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – September 29, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center


Opening Comments:

“Alright guys injuries for practice today. [CB] Josh Norman, chest, won’t practice. [CB] K’Waun [Williams], calf, no practice. [TE George] Kittle, calf, no practice. T Trent Williams having a maintenance day. [DL Nick] Bosa, maintenance day. [DT Javon] Kinlaw, knee, won’t practice. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, shoulder. He’ll be limited. And [C] Alex Mack vet day too.”

How about DL Arik Armstead?

“Yeah, he’s full go.”

What’s the severity of Kittle’s calf injury?

“I mean, he should be alright this week. Just sore today, what we expected, and take it day-by-day now.”

When you guys have so many players not practicing, do you kind of change things up? Or how does that impact preparation?

“I think we’re alright because the 16 practice squad guys definitely helps. It would have been tough in the past. And we’re not too overloaded at one position, so it shouldn’t affect it today.”

With Norman, do you expect him to play this week?

“I have no idea with that. He’s got to pass some tests throughout the week and I know he wants to, he seems a lot better today, but he’s got to pass a number of tests to be able to.”

You activated the IR windows for a couple of guys, but not Jalen Hurd’s. So, what’s Hurd’s status? What’s the plan for him?

“He’s just not there yet. The other two guys are ready to go. They’ll practice today. And when they’re ready, we’ll get them up.”

Recently both you and general manager John Lynch have said that you weren’t going to close the door on Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Richard Sherman. Obviously, he signed today with the Buccaneers, but what made the three guys that you signed the past three weeks at that position? What made them better fits at this stage for where you guys are?

“I think it was more of the timing when we did it. At first, we weren’t sure we were bringing them in, whether they were going to start, whether they’re going to be a backup, or they’re going to even dress knowing that they would have to help on special teams, things like that. We didn’t think that was the time for Sherman with what he’s been here, always been the starter. We weren’t going to bring him unless we knew exactly what his role was. And then this week, I think he just had a better opportunity at Tampa. Some of the injuries we have, we need an outside and inside guy. Still would’ve loved to have Sherm, but situation at Tampa was a little bit better for him I think or what he decided. And I was glad we were able to get [CB] Buster [Skrine] in here too, who has played inside and outside throughout his career.”

So, did you Guys when Richard declared to go there to visit. Were you guys in touch with him about possibly bringing him back?

“Yeah. John’s been in touch with him a ton. I haven’t talked to him for a couple of weeks. But it’s the same as John talking to him and he was in touch with him the whole time, but that’s why we were hoping he was going to be there for a while. So, when it made sense for both of us, we could do it. But we lost that opportunity because Tampa came through and it just wasn’t the right timing for us.”

Just to clarify. So, you have CB Emmanuel Moseley and Josh Norman, who I’m assuming if healthy, are your starters. Did you not envision Richard as a starter if he were to come in right now?

“I think he needs a couple of weeks to get ready, at least a week. And there’s contract things that go into it also. Not playing and everything so, that’s about as much I’ll say about it, but we would love to have Richard here. But it makes sense why he went to Tampa.”

Is Buster in the same timeframe? Does he need a couple of weeks to get ready?

“He says he’s ready. I think he needs more time to learn our defense, but we’ll see how many decisions we can make at the end of this week based off everyone’s health, but he hopped in there today, did good in walk through, and we’ll keep him going throughout the week.”

Is George the type of player that he doesn’t need to practice to play in a Sunday game?

“No, I don’t think anyone’s really like that. It helps everyone to practice but, we’re not giving George off just to get it off. George plays pretty physically, he gives everything he’s got and sometimes he’s got a little wear and tear on him that takes a little longer to get it back.”

Practice time for a backup quarterback is typically scarce throughout the week. What are you looking for during the week from QB Trey Lance in order to make a determination about how much he plays on Sunday?

“Trey’s our backup quarterback. This isn’t the preseason. We’re not just going back and forth all the time. Trey goes in for specific plays or things we want to do. Trey week in and week out gets better each week the more reps he gets on scout team. But there’s not a big decision going into that each week. We put in a gameplan for our starting quarterback, the backup needs to be able to do all of that if he gets hurt. And what’s cool about Trey is because of his different skillset is we always keep him alive with a couple of plays on situations.”

Given the way that the offense has started the last two weeks, was there any thought to inserting him earlier in the game to sort of get things going a little bit faster? Give the defense something different to look at to get the offense moving?

“If we thought that would be the case, we do it.”

If the offense is out of rhythm, early on, is there a worry that taking the starting quarterback out of game for a couple of snaps would sort of continue the problem, exacerbate the situation?

“No, there’s not a quarterback battle right now. We’re going with our starting quarterback I think he is playing very well. I’m happy that he is. So, Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early. If he ever is thrown into that, then I know Trey will deal with that and he’ll get better as it goes, but we have a luxury where we don’t have to do that yet to Trey or to our team. So, hopefully we won’t have to.”

QB Jimmy Garoppolo been a lot more efficient second quarter onward. Have you been able to identify any common links as to his struggles efficiency-wise in the first quarter?

“Yeah, when the whole offense is struggling, usually the quarterback does and I think we have in the first half, the last two games. And I think the whole offense did a lot better in the second half and usually the quarterback does when that happens.”

What strides has WR Deebo Samuel made in Year 3 in your eyes?

“I thought Deebo, as a rookie, he made a lot of strides halfway through the year. We threw him into the battle very early, even Week One verse Tampa. He had a lot to learn on the fly. But he got better throughout the year and was playing at a very-high level. When we got to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. His second year was just injury-filled. So, he didn’t get an offseason. So, when he came back, he wasn’t totally ready to play football and he kept getting re-injured. So, the second year was almost like it didn’t even happen. And this year, I think is what you were hoping to see the second year. He came in very prepared from what he learned his rookie year. He came in ready to go. Was in much better football shape, much better on his routes. His stamina’s better. And I think that’s why he started off better.”

His skillset is kind of unique, in terms of his build and the way that you guys use him. You sometimes see defenses trying to take a receiver out of the mix. Is it harder to take him out of a mix than other people because of the ways you can get him the ball?

“Yeah, you can hand off the ball to a lot of receivers and they got a chance on good looks, but Deebo is a real good running back too. So, even if it’s not a good look he still has a chance to gain a yard or two. He’s very natural at it and the way his body’s built he can handle it pretty well. So, anytime I think guys can take pasts eligibles out of the game fairly easily, if they want to. That’s why it’s good to always have another club in your bag where you can play a different position.”

The last completion to Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams. Most people thought the ball was going to go to Adams. It wasn’t that hard of a completion. Was that the coverage you wanted? Was there any sort of bust on defense there?

“Yeah, it was the coverage we wanted, two-man. It just wasn’t the technique we wanted. Everyone should be inside technique, bumping, not allowing any end break routes. And we didn’t get that on the outside.”

Is there are many parallels to be drawn between you had New York Jets head coach Robert Salah first year defensive coordinator back in 2017. Just how he, at least to the untrained eye, looked like he kind of went through a process of learning how to do his job and get better and learn from your mistakes and all that. Is that something that defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is going through as well?

“That’s something we all go through. Even people who have been doing it for a while. You go through different stuff every week. Everything’s adjusting and each Sunday is a new Sunday and the league evolves. So that’s something everybody goes through comparing it to Salah’s start is just completely to me, apples to oranges. We had a totally different team then, it’s not that Salah just learned how to be a good coach and all of a sudden, we did well. That took time, putting the team together. It took time working and developing all I think we got there. I think we have a head start this year compared to where we did four years ago. We’re a better team than we when we started here. But that’s the cliché thing, anytime the defense struggles with a first-time play caller. I know that’s what everyone’s going to say. People used to always say it about me, but yeah everyone learns with experience, but it’s never just the absolute at all.”

What have your conversations been like with DeMeco over the past couple of days, as far as you seeing what he’s doing?

“Yeah, they’re great. I love working with DeMeco. He’s really smart. He’s strong-minded. He’s not a yes man at all. He’s going to listen to you. He’s going to tell you what he thinks and he’s never was going to stop working at it. So, I’ve been really impressed with DeMeco in these three weeks. When it’s been good and when it’s been bad. How he’s handled it during the games, how he’s handled it after the games. I thought he made some real good calls on Sunday night. I wish we had got a better execution on that last call of the two-man coverage. But that goes back to what you do out do throughout the week. It’s not all about calling the play. It’s about executing the play and that has to do with coaching guys throughout the week.”

What have you seen from the Seattle Seahawks these first three weeks?

“Very similar to how you usually see them. And I know they’re 1-2, which isn’t what they’re used to, but and I know their defense’s numbers aren’t very good, but that won’t be the case at the end of the year. They got some really good players. They got really good coaches. They fly around, they hit, they usually cause turnovers and they’re a very good team. And looking at their offense, their new scheme is to me helping. It’s given some other problems and newer problems. Their receivers are as good as it is in this league. And they have one of the best quarterbacks to play in the last decade.”

During training camp, you talked about using the two-quarterback system and you said that Trey Lance was too good to keep off the field. But through the first three games, it really hasn’t played out that way. So why did you change your mind on that?

“I didn’t change my mind. We have put him on the field. We do it in situations. You can go with whatever you want what I say in training camp and you can expand on that or not. But I think I was asked coming off the field of our third game, if we’d see this in the regular season, I said, ‘probably not.’ So, I think a lot of words have been put in my mouth with some of that stuff or exaggerated pretty big. So, I pretty much keep it pretty real to everyone, but I don’t just tell everyone the answer. I have no problem with you guys overdoing that and Detroit working on that extremely hard. But I’ve been pretty consistent with what I’ve said.”

What was the purpose of bringing Lance and Garoppolo in and out in that final pre-season game? I know you said you weren’t going to use them that way, but it was just such a strange sight. And I think it created an expectation with some fans and media members?

“Yeah. I mean, it was preseason, it was fun to do, but it has to do with the team we’re playing the next week. It doesn’t have to do with the reactions, it has to do with how people prepare for people.”

On Lance’s touchdown run, Mack had to get down along there to make a block. I assume, when he was a younger man, that was not a problem. He obviously got it done. How does he move at 35 as opposed to when you had him in Atlanta?

“I don’t think he moves much different than when I had him in Atlanta. I think Mack would say in his first, probably four years of his career, he was all athlete and extremely fast and it’s slowed down a little bit as he got into his second and third contracts, but he still played at such a high level when I was at Atlanta and I see the same guy now. So, I think he’s doing a pretty good job.”

Have you watched that play over and over again? Is that not a play you can run with Jimmy because it was blocked so well, I saw that defender kind of get close to Lance and I thought, ‘was he fast enough to make that?’ If it was Jimmy, just wondering?

“Yeah, you can run it with anybody. The faster you are, the more you can overcome, not great looks. If Mack didn’t do a good job on that, it would have been tough for anyone. But definitely the bigger and faster they are, the better percentages you have for it to be a good play call.”

After the loss to the Vikings, the Seahawks cornerbacks were didn’t seem like they were on the same page, but they do seem to get better as the year goes on. Last year they were kind of a disaster defensively early on and they actually improved. Do you see similarities between their early season struggles the last two years?

“Yeah, they went against some good receivers and then the quarterback was hot. He was throwing some good balls and whether they had blitzes or whether they played zone, he usually got that ball to the right spot. Which always causes some problems, but that’s why they’re not going to panic about their numbers. They’re a good defense and I think everyone will see that as this year goes.”