Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – December 29, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“[LB Dre] Greenlaw will not practice, groin. [RB] Elijah Mitchell, he’ll be limited with his knee. [DL Maurice] Mo Hurst, won’t practice with his calf. Huf, [S Talanoa] Hufanga won’t practice with his knee. [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] won’t practice with his knee. [DL] D.J. Jones is limited with his ankle. [QB] Jimmy Garoppolo, the trainers are taking him out right now to see how much he can do. If he can do some, he’ll be limited today. If not he won’t practice, we’ll try again tomorrow. Go ahead guys.”

Could you clear something up? You said it was a thumb sprain on Monday and then after you said that, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport, both reported that there was more significant damage. One reported a chipped bone, another reported a fracture of the thumb. Can you kind of clear that up and whether surgery is in the future for Garoppolo?

“Yeah, I’ve been told he does not need surgery right now. To clear that up, the reason that was worded that way is because that’s the way it was worded to me. There are three types of sprains, and he has a grade-three sprain. Since I have to give you guys more information to clear up Ian and Adam’s tweet. It is a grade-three sprain. The reason they never mentioned to me a fracture is because that really didn’t have much to do with it. On the third-degree sprain that he has on his UCL ligament, when that is ripped up, it pulled off a little fleck of his bone. When there’s a bone that has anything off of it, you can call it a fracture, you can call it a chip, you can call it something, but that really isn’t what’s keeping him out. It’s the third-degree sprain that he has, but because it’s not moving he doesn’t need surgery and he has a chance to play this week.”

If QB Trey Lance does end up getting the start and we go back to his October 10 start, it seemed like it took him a while to get rid of the ball. I’m wondering if you thought that that was the case and whether in the two and a half months since then you’ve seen him improve and sort of the processing, the release time aspect of it?

“Yeah, unfortunately for Trey, he only got to play in one and a half game like that. And there were times in that game he held onto it too long. I didn’t think it was all of it. I think there were times he got rid of it pretty fast. He’ll get more playing time, more practice this week and if he plays, he’ll get a whole other game and I’m sure it won’t be perfect. But I think he’s been doing a better job in all areas the more he has gotten practice in.”

How has he approached these last few days, knowing that Jimmy’s tentative and is he doing more film work, more one-on-one time with certain coaches, any extra passing on the side, Trey?

“No, I wouldn’t say he is doing extra work. He’s been preparing like he’s going to start every week, so he’s kind of developed a routine throughout this year that it’s no different for him whether he is the backup or the starter. I think he’s excited because he sees, early in the week, that he’s got a chance, a possibility of starting and he gets to definitely start a practice today. I know he is excited for that, but his routine’s the same.”

I know you mentioned previously that you guys weren’t going do anything with your quarterbacks in terms of COVID and separating them and things like that. Is that still the case just with Jimmy’s injury and the COVID situation? Are you doing anything different on that front this week?

“Yeah, we did it just with everything. I made the decision last night, I just had us all zoom today. We had the whole team split up today. We did everything on zoom. We’ve been pretty fortunate with it so far just having one guy down, but just watching the world and watching everybody knowing how it’s a matter of time is what it looks like. So we’re just trying to be careful and keep everyone separate right now until we go outside.”

I’m just wondering whether the Garoppolo injury is similar to the one that Lance had in August, which I think involved maybe a piece of the bone coming off?

“No, it’s different. Trey hit on the tip of a helmet and literally chipped a bone off of it. Jimmy tore a ligament. A third-degree sprain, which is a tear. I’m trying to be right with my words so you guys don’t think I’m making stuff up. I’m not a doctor. Jimmy’s was more ligament damage and when a ligament gets ripped, ligaments are attached to bones I’m told and when the ligament gets ripped up, it can pull off a little bit of bone. And that’s the fracture that those two guys tweeted. However you look at a fracture it technically is, but it’s not about that, it’s about the ligament.”

Let’s say Jimmy cannot play this this week. It sounds like this is an injury where maybe with more rest it could improve obviously without surgery. He could be in play for the Rams game, is this accurate?

“Yes, because he didn’t break the bone, it’s stable. They told me [former NFL QB] Drew Brees had one in the last few years or something and his broke and that’s why he had to get surgery. Jimmy’s isn’t in that spot. It’s stable. That’s why he doesn’t need surgery right now. And I think he’s feeling a lot better today than he was a few days ago. That’s why he has a chance this week. And with it being that case, I’m hoping it only gets better with more time, whether that’s this week or the following week.”

With the new protocols and I know you said you guys are just being extra careful, but does this bring up any sort of anxiety or kind of flashbacks to last year and what you guys went through at this point?

“We always get flashbacks of last year, because it was just weird the month that we spent and almost every time I talk to you guys on here, it gives me flashbacks. I think its been different with our team. Like even the first week we zoomed, back then it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just the continuous month of it and not being around each other on the road in a hotel. This week, just talking to everyone, everyone knows what’s at stake. This week, everyone knows what’s at stake next week. The playoffs have essentially started for us, so it’s not an issue. Our team, we all don’t prefer zoom. People know what’s at stake with the chances of us losing guys for these games, so it wasn’t a hard issue at all going zoom today.”

On the running back front, you said Mitchell would be limited today and just how is he progressing? And then also, can we get an update on RB Trey Sermon?

“Trey’s good to go. We got to see him last week, even though we didn’t get to practice that much. He would’ve been able to go last week. We didn’t go with that, more of a special teams decision, but I know Trey Sermon should be good to go this week and I’m hoping Elijah will.”

With the passing of NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach and Broadcaster John Madden yesterday, I was curious about your thoughts about his impact on football and if you had any quick personal stories with John or you and your dad and John?

“I didn’t know John personally, I know my dad did, but I don’t know much about that. I would’ve been a much better student if it wasn’t for John Madden. I spent my whole probably first 25 years of my life playing his video game all the time, which was as good of a game as it gets. And I think that’s where everyone from my generation kind of knew him exactly. And then you heard him on Monday Night Football all the time. It was cool to see, like me growing up, I always watched him on TV and loved him and as I got more into coaching or the aspects of football, I’d always be like, ‘why is he drawing on the screen so long? I want to hear what he’s saying.’ And then other new guys came when they tried to replace him and no one could entertain the normal fan as much as he could. And it seemed like they never totally did replace him for a while. And I just know how much he meant, starting with that video game, how much he meant to everyone. Hearing his voice on Monday night football and I think someone said it yesterday, but he lived as good of a football life as anyone. And without me knowing him, I would totally have to agree on that.”

I realize this is medical territory, but the fact that Jimmy could function and play relatively well in the second half against the Titans, I guess some adrenaline had to do with that, but does that suggest he could do, from what you’ve been told, does that suggest he could do something similar this Sunday?

“Yeah, since I’m not a doctor either, that’s the exact same question I asked. They’re positive with it being that because it wasn’t fully broken in some of the areas, comparing to quarterbacks in the past, that he has a chance. But they said the second half was completely off adrenaline. Jimmy’s a very tough guy and when you’re that amped up and we’ve had guys do that before, not necessarily with their thumb, but other stuff. I’ve had guys finish games and then you end up finding that they have an ACL too. So the adrenaline those guys have in the heat of battles is different. But that gives you some hope, but they quickly told me that it was real impressive that he made it through that game.”

Do you feel the team is better equipped to weather any potential Garoppolo absence than in the past?

“I’d like to say that. We’ll see. We still have to do the same stuff. We have to score more points than the other team. And the best way of doing that is us not turning it over and getting turnovers. I watched a really good team go in there last week with the Texans real down and I thought the Chargers went up and down the field their first four drives. I think it went touchdown, touchdown, field goal, they had 12 points to show for those three scores. And then the fourth one, they went right down and they threw a pick. Then I think they had one drive in the third quarter and I think two in the fourth. I think we can handle anybody being hurt, but you still have to go out and play good football to get a win. And it’s not just the quarterback, it’s everybody.”

What do you see from the Texans and how much is there to going up against a team that potentially doesn’t have much left to play for, other than playing spoiler for teams that are looking at much more to play for?

“I would love it if I watched the tape and felt like they were playing like they didn’t have much to play for. Then that would be really advantageous for us. But all you have to do is turn on the tape and it quickly, you don’t think about that stuff at all. The Chargers are a very good team at all phases and they had everything to play for and they went in there and got beat pretty good. You watch some of the other games the Texans have played previous to that, I actually think they looked better in those games than they did versus the Chargers. They had so many guys down versus the Chargers that they were just playing with heart and they were fortunate enough to make some plays on offense and get some big turnovers that killed the Chargers. So I see a team that is really playing hard, everybody on it, it looks like there’s not a choice for that. I think this team, it’s not a surprise what they did last week and I think that’s why they’re playing better on offense too and I think they’ll surprise some people next year.”

There’s obviously always a sense of urgency on your team, but you mentioned it earlier, is it really a playoff mentality amongst the team and your staff at this point?

“Definitely. I don’t know the exact numbers. The one thing I do know is if we win both of the games that we’re in. I know it’s going to be hard if we lose any. So not taking it past that, you look at it as if you lose your season is over and if you win, it keeps going. And that’s, to me, the definition of the playoffs. So our players are aware of that and that’s why we have to make sure we take care of business.”