Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

Press Conference – January 5, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

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Opening comments:

“We got [DL Maurice] Mo Hurst, calf, he will be limited. [LB Dre] Greenlaw, limited. [LB] Azeez [Al-Shaair] will not practice. [S Talanoa] Hufanga will be limited. [QB Jimmy] Garoppolo will be limited. [RB] Elijah Mitchell will not practice. [S Jaquiski] Tartt, limited. And [T] Trent Williams will not practice. Go ahead.”

Has Jimmy thrown since the last time we talked to you and how did that session go?

“Yes, he threw yesterday and it’s made him good enough to be limited today.”

Is Mitchell hurt or just being rested?

“He still has the same stuff he’s had the last few weeks, so that’s why he’s not going today. I think we’re listing knee as the injury.”

With some of the guys going on the COVID list today, I’m just curious where things stand with the booster shot and how have you guys communicated that issue potentially with the playoffs ahead?

“The booster shot, I don’t know what that does for the players, except just getting it, as far as rules and everything. We have the guys that I think that you guys know that are on it. Right now, we’ve got [CB] Dontae [Johnson], [DB] Jimmie Ward, [CB] Ambry Thomas and [CB] K’Waun [Williams]. With the new protocols, they all do have a chance to test back in before Sunday. So I’m just hoping that goes well with them and hopefully they’re symptom-free.”

With Jimmy, how do you kind of go about, you said he is limited, but how do you go about divvying up the reps? What’s your approach knowing that, obviously, these guys both need the work, but in a big game, how do you divvy that up?

“We’ll put Jimmy in on what he feels comfortable with doing with where he is at today and [QB] Trey [Lance] will get the rest. I’m sure Trey will get the majority, but we’ll see how it is when he’s out there. Mainly just communicating with him through the practice, through the individuals, through everything. Today won’t be a full-speed practice, so it’s not as challenging.”

Do you have a feel for the guys on the COVID list about, are you optimistic from what you’ve observed or how they tested since then that they will be removed by Sunday’s game?

“Yeah, I’m optimistic. Just watching how it worked for a number of teams around the NFL last week. Guys who got it on Monday and were able to come back, I think some guys got it on Tuesday, they were able to come back, so I am optimistic, but I think your guess is as good as mine.”

As far as T Trent Williams injury, do you feel like his status is in question at all for Sunday?

“I don’t think so just knowing Trent, being around him. I know it’s hurting too much to go today. But no, I know this is a big game and if Trent can be out there, he’ll be out there. I don’t think he’s looking at it in any other way right now.”

As far as Jimmy’s thumb and sort of the relatch scenario, will you try to keep it light with him this week so that has more time to heal and relatch a bit?

“Yeah, I think we have to be careful. I think waiting until where we did definitely helped getting him to this point, but I think each day is a new experience with it. So it’s going to be mainly at Jimmy’s pace and just talking to him and making sure he doesn’t push it too hard to give him a chance for Sunday.”

I assume that your guys on the COVID list get to attend virtually. How big of a deal is it to have that many guys in your secondary not be able to actually practice this week?

“It is a big deal, but it’s part of the league now, guys have been dealing with it throughout the year. We’ve been very fortunate this year. We haven’t had it hit us like we did last year. We got it all in one position right now, pretty heavy. Finding it early in the week gives us a chance. Anytime guys miss practice it doesn’t help. But the main thing is it’s late in the year and our guys have a good idea what they’re doing, so the goal is just to get them to Sunday and hopefully that’ll be a possibility.”

You guys have had a lot of success against the Rams. Is there anything that you can pinpoint why you guys have been so successful against them in the last few years?

“Not in particular. I think it’s two teams that respect each other a lot. We go hard. I would guess we’ve won the turnover battle the majority of the times, but each one is kind of its own game. And so I never really tied those together when we went into it and especially being this one right now, it really has no bearing on what’s happened in the past. It’s all about these four quarters.”

Obviously, the stakes for this game are big. Do you feel like you have to address anything about what this game means for the team or does it kind of speak for itself and if so, how do you address it?

“I think we’ve been addressing that the last few weeks. I truly believed going into the game versus Houston that if we lost that we wouldn’t be able to get in the playoffs. And I think it went that way, based off all the other games that day. So our team’s fully been playing and acting like that for a little bit and the way we started out this year, it’s been that way for a while.”

With the way you guys move WR Deebo Samuel around and you know they’ve got a chess piece so to speak with Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey like that, is it easier to kind of find out what they’re trying to do with the way you can align Deebo in certain ways?

“They mix it up so much, just like we do too. Whenever you get a beat on what someone’s doing, then it changes. So it’s just about adjusting and trying to stay ahead of the curve on it. And it’s a chess match in that way. And they’ve got some really good players out there, especially ones like Jalen, ones like [Los Angeles Rams DL] Aaron [Donald] and a number of others and so do we. So you’re always trying to move all those guys around on both sides, trying to give your players advantages and they do as good of a job at it on defense as anyone does on offense also.”

With seeding in the NFC, and I know you guys are focused on yourselves and this week, but just overall in the NFC, the playoff picture, maybe the teams might be bunched up a little bit more closely without that one or two elite teams that there seems to be every year. Do you agree with that? And with COVID and everything as potentially being an equalizer, do you think even a lower seed might have as good a shot as any this year, given all those circumstances?

“Yeah, I do. I really don’t see it much different every year. It’s always hard to go in other people’s stadiums, especially in the playoffs, especially versus some of these quarterbacks. That’s usually the challenge. I always feel like every team’s got a chance if you can get in the tournament. That’s why you always want homefield advantage, you always want one less game that you have to play. But the goal to me is always just to get in, because if you get in, you got the shot. And I’ve always felt like that and it seems pretty strong this year too.”

There obviously can be some sort of competitive advantage because your quarterbacks have pretty dramatically different skill sets. Might you keep the decision about who’s going to start hidden as late as possible, even if you have made that determination earlier in the week, if that makes any sense?

“Yeah, it makes total sense. I haven’t made it now, which is the truth and I probably will make it before the game starts. And I will not tell you guys when I do that. For all the reasons you just asked.”

There is some video of TE George Kittle where he was sort of running up and down the field, attacking Trey Lance after the play, just being really encouraging. What’s the importance of him just sort of being a big brother to Trey and encouraging him in that way? And also, how did that hit he gave you on the sideline feel?

“I would rather Trey avoid Kittle after plays. I appreciate the encouragement, but Kittle for some reason can’t control his aggressiveness. Trey definitely can handle it better than me, but I run from Kittle after good things because he will not change how he hits people no matter what. Whether they have pads on or not, whether they’re on your team, he just gets too excited. So best thing is to avoid Kittle in those moments because he is an injury waiting to happen.”