Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – September 9, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Can you just update us on what you saw or just what LB Fred Warner’s status is and just how he’s dealt with the last week and then also just how dependable he’s been for you guys entering his third season?

“Yeah, Fred’s back. He’s good to go. I can’t talk about too much of his week away, but Fred’s been as reliable of a player that we’ve had. It’s great to get him back today. We were obviously pretty nervous about that, but he’s good to go and we’re very grateful he’s going to be here. The rest of the guys at practice, [WR Brandon] Aiyuk and [WR] Deebo [Samuel], likely not to practice today. A small chance, but I’d be surprised if they’re out there. [CB Jason] Verrett is out and [OL Ben] Garland should be limited today.”

You guys are going against a mobile quarterback again to start out the season. That was kind of more of a challenge last year. What have you seen from the defense that’s going to help you get after that a little bit more this season?

“That’s always going to be a challenge. Anytime you’ve got guys who can run around like this one can in particular and how good of a thrower he is, that’s always going to be a huge challenge. So, you get used to going against this stuff. We had it twice last year, but I know there will be a bunch of new wrinkles this time, especially with the first game and having all offseason to think about it. But, our defense knows what to expect from the personnel and you’ve got to be ready to react to the new stuff, but he’s going to get some of his, and we’ve just got to make sure we get more.”

With the changes to the preseason schedule and just everything that you’ve had to deal with leading up to the opener, do you and the coaching staff have to kind of figure out how much you want to play your guys? I know certain positions lend to rotating more than others, but is that something that you have to think about the workload that you’re going to give guys Week One?

“Yeah, you’ve got to know who’s ready to go in and perform at a certain amount of plays. I think you had enough camp and stuff to get guys in shape to play football. I don’t think you always need the preseason games to do that. The problem was that we did it in a cram time. Guys who missed some of that time, they didn’t get it in the whole cram time. So, if you had all that time, then I don’t think not having the games is a big issue, but not everyone did get that because of the wear and tear of training camp. Those guys, you’ve got to be smart about, evaluate where they’re at all week. Talking to the player, it’s us looking at it, talking to the doctors, getting a lot of science involved that helps us with our decisions, but each guy’s different. I’ve got to see how the game goes, but your main decision, you don’t want to put a guy out there who’s not in shape enough to pull off what you need him to pull off or to protect himself.”

I know the NFC West has always been kind of a difficult place and even more difficult now. I’m just curious how you assess the division going into this season and is there any more emphasis on these division games, particularly in a season like this?

“I think you do every year. Usually the team who wins the most games in our division makes the playoffs. If you don’t do well in your division, very rarely do you find a way to make playoffs every year. I guess I could say maybe this year might be bigger, but it seems like the biggest factor each year. It’ll be different without the crowd noise in the West that you usually have every place. So, we’ll see how that goes. It’s pretty much always as important as it is this year.”

Have you guys finalized whatever the sound situation inside Levi’s is going to be for Sunday?

“I think it’s consensus for the whole league, I believe it’s 70 to 75. We’re going to decide on that too. We’ll keep it a secret for some reason. So, they don’t play with the right decibels the whole week, but we’ll see if that’s an advantage for us. We’ll surprise them on Sunday.”

There was a video clip of you calling it human torture. Just how much of an adjustment period is that for even the coaching staff, just procedurally?

“I think it’ll be a huge adjustment for everyone out there. You don’t realize just what constant noise is like. It’s not about being loud or too low. It’s about just constant. I mean, usually when the play starts, you get to hear the pop and you get to hear football. When things aren’t going on, you can have conversations with people and stuff. So just the constant noise, it’s a little tough to deal with, but fans won’t be having to deal with it. That’ll just be us. So hopefully we can make sure that doesn’t affect our game, which it shouldn’t. It’s more about just the irritation of it and you embrace it and realize that that can’t affect you unless you let it affect you and you just go back to playing football.”

It’s been noted as it relates to QB Jimmy Garoppolo, how quarterbacks in the second full season in your system have taken off. I guess [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Schaub, [Atlanta Falcons QB] Matt Ryan being the best examples. I’m sure it’s not just, wasn’t the same thing with those two quarterbacks, but in what ways did those guys improve in their second season and could it be similar areas for Jimmy, if that makes sense?

“Yeah, that makes sense. I think it does for most positions of people, too. If you’re good enough, then the more you do something, usually the better you get at it. Especially when you have some continuity with the players around you. It’s not always just the quarterback, sometimes the other 10 guys, it’s their second year in the system too. It’s their third year, their fourth year. So, your teams get better. You look at some of our guys in their first year and second year, I don’t know if our team was better halfway through our second year with some of the stuff that was going on. You don’t always get to see that with the quarterback, but with Jimmy going through what he went through last year and being able to pull off the year that he did, especially with coming off an injury, he learned a lot and also played at a very high level. To be able to go through that this year, having very similar players around him, the offense doesn’t change. You just get better at it. I think that’ll definitely help him.”

Now that training camp is through with across the league, a lot of success keeping the virus down, how optimistic are you that things are going to go smoothly throughout the whole season?

“I don’t expect it at all to go smoothly throughout the whole season. Whether there’s COVID or not COVID, so many things happen in an NFL season that it’s always a different team that you end with than that you started with just with the injuries and everything that happens. On top of that, putting in a pretty unprecedented thing that we are going through with the state of this pandemic and everything. I definitely expect things to happen. You’ve got to be ready to adjust to all of that. Everyone’s going to do as good as they can, which I think we have as good of a situation as possible with that stuff. You’re expecting things to happen when it does. So, you just deal with it the best you can, you make sure people are healthy and you’re doing things the right way and you hope you never have something where it makes it impossible to go out there and compete.”

TE George Kittle obviously didn’t play much against the Cardinals last year, but he did have that highlight reel play against S Budda Baker. I’m wondering, when you go back to that play and then back to George’s development as a tight end, do you remember the first time when he showed that kind of cutting ability, not just to speed, but that kind of cutting ability to get open against such a smaller defensive back?

“Yeah, George, since he’s gotten here, George is a very talented guy. Our first time with him in training camp, we just felt very fortunate to get the guy that we got where we got him. The way he moved around, the way he ran. He’s only added size on himself since he’s been here and he’s also gotten a lot healthier since he was his first couple of years. The second year, the stuff that you could see him do with the football in his hands, it’s not always in routes, but just the ability he has in the open field to run. On that one in particular, I thought it was more after the catch and he just had to throw him off of him to get him off of him in that situation. He’s a sticky cover guy. This is as good as a safety as there is in this league. George is as good of a tight end as there is in this league. So, it’s always been a fun matchup even though it was short to watch him last time, but I expect that being a really tough matchup for both guys for a long time.”

I haven’t seen what the air quality looks like in Santa Clara, but in San Francisco, it’s orange. Have you seen, I know you’re getting ready for a game, but have you seen any of these pictures on social media and what are your thoughts about the air quality and what’s going on in our state with the fires?

“I haven’t seen it on social media, but I’ve seen it out here. We just got back in from walkthrough and it’s orange out here, too. I feel like I’m in the Book of Eli, it’s like an apocalyptic state out there, but surprisingly the air quality doesn’t seem as bad as it looks. A few weeks ago when we had it or last week, it got up, it got past 150 here for us. But, today when we were just out there 15 minutes ago, that air quality was at 69, I think, which isn’t close to what it’s been. Yeah, it definitely looked different out there.”

You had a lot of praise for WR Dante Pettis early in training camp. I’m just wondering whether he followed through with that for the rest of training camp and these recent practices and how you feel about the prospect of him possibly starting, having a big game reps-wise on Sunday?

“Yeah, with two receivers up this week, with them being day-to-day, we’re ready for any situation with the receivers. Whether Dante is going to play a lot, play a little, he’s kind of in the same boat with about four other guys. What I can say is Dante is so much more prepared right now for the season than he was last year at this time. Just the work he put in when he was away, the stuff I said earlier in the year, but it definitely hasn’t changed. I mean, everyone battled through camp and had some good days, some bad days, but Dante was so prepared for camp. He fought through camp on the tough days and I think took a number of steps forward as a receiver. Whether he gets this opportunity this week or some other time throughout the year, he’s put himself in a position to have a chance to be successful.”

I know in years past you might have waited a little later in the season to determine captains, but has that been something that’s been determined so far?

“Yes, they voted on it Saturday. I think I announced it Monday. There’s seven of them. I think last year we had five. They changed the rules, we’re allowed to have eight this year, but the guys that I can remember, we had Jimmy, Kittle, and then we had [T Mike] McGlinchey and [T] Trent [Williams], and then on defense we had [DL Arik] Armstead, [CB Richard] Sherman and Fred. So, we’ve got seven there. Room for one more, if we decide to go that way.”

With everything different this offseason, no preseason, et cetera, mentally, does this week feel like a different Week One at all than it has in the past?

“Yeah, it definitely feels like a different Week One, because we’re such creatures of habit. I’m doing the same thing I’ve done every single Wednesday for the last 17 years as far as getting ready for your Wednesday practice. You know how every Saturday is, every Sunday. You know the feelings that you have every year and they’re all a little different this year because we’re off a little bit with our schedules and the process that we usually go through, but everyone’s in the same boat. Once you can think about that and you realize like everyone, sort of weird for everyone going out there and feeling their way, but once that game starts, it’s Week One like it always is. The crowd might not be there the same, which, I watched the NFC Championship game Sunday. They had it on TV here and that was really cool to watch that on TV like a fan and to see how crazy our stadium was the last time we were in it and how cool that was. I know how it was when we first got here and it wasn’t quite the same and just the hard work and everything that the players put in to give the stadium something that exciting to be about and watching it on TV, it pumped me up. Then you realize, oh man, it’s not going to be like that this Sunday, which you’ve got to talk to the players about because that energy that our stadium started to get like last year, it fueled us. I also want to remind the players that the way they played, I think fueled the fans. I think both people earned that. It sucks for the fans that, I think, what we’ve earned and to get them something to be excited about, it sucks that they can’t come there and be a part of it with us. That hit me more Sunday than anything just watching that on my couch at home. That’s something we’re going to have to deal with and create our own energy with that, something I think we have done in the past. Even though we know our fans are at home being crazy and loud, we’re going to make sure that we hold it down the right way in the stadium

The Cardinals led the league last year in 10 personnel usage under Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and they were able to hit you guys on defense with a few big plays. If you can just talk about just how difficult it is to prepare for an air raid offense and the challenge that it presents?

“Yeah, it is difficult. What Kliff’s done such a good job of, it’s not just air raid. He’s taken a lot of things. The stuff that he’s done in college has been very effective and causes a lot of problems for defenses, but he also does a lot of other stuff out there that you’ve got to respect and you’ve got to do. So, it’s just the balance of their attack with the creativity that Kliff has and all the different things they can do. The quarterback who has the ability to do everything, whatever style they want to go with. So, regardless of what personnel they’re in, they’re going to put you in some tough situations at all times. It’s a sign of a good offense. It’s put together well and a lot of it is a little bit different, but there’s a lot of similarities in everyone else, too. When you combine that with how well their coached, with the talent that they have, it’s not a surprise at all how they ended up finishing up last year offensively. I know they’re going to be a real good offense this year, too.”